Thursday, October 27, 2005

Marriage Again

Earlier this month The Volokh Conspiracy hosted a debate on same-sex marriage, with Maggie Gallager arguing against it. She gave all the standard arguments, some of which are stronger than others, but then she made this rather bizarre analogy:

"Imagine you stand in the middle of vast, hostile desert. A camel is your only means of transversing it, your lifeline to the future. The camel is burdened-- stumbling, loaded down, tired; enfeebled-- the conditions of the modern life are clearly not favorable to it. But still it’s your only hope, because to get across that desert you need a camel.

"Now, chop off its legs and order it to carry you to safety.

"That’s what SSM looks like, to me."


Huh?!???!!???

How on earth is chopping the legs off of a camel analogous to expanding the definition of marriage? That analogy would actually work reasonably well as an illustration about the effects that no-fault divorce (which Gallagher references earlier in her post) has had on the institution of marriage, and she might - might be able to argue that expanding the definition would add to the camel's burden, but as written her metaphor is simply nonsensical. Talk about chopping the legs off of your own argument!

For the record, I'm still undecided on this question. It's definitely time that we extended certain legal protections to same-sex couples, just as we already do for common law marriages, but whether that requires redefining an existing institution is another question entirely. In my opinion, at least.

On the other hand, even when I was still fully invested in the ex-gay mindset I recognized what an abomination the federal marriage amendment is. With a single stroke it would permanently redefine the separation of powers codified in our constitution and unravel our federal system of government every bit as much as proponents of the amendment claim that same-sex marriage would damage the institution of marriage. And to think conservatives used to stand for upholding the constitution.

Anyway, back to Maggie Gallagher's analogy: Good Lord, no wonder Christians aren't taken more seriously in the marketplace of ideas.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I keep trying to figure out what she meant. My brain hurts.

Is it like that Alan Chambers line about "If SSM had been available, I wouldn't have found healing and my wife?" In other words, if he had SSM available to him, he would have been like that camel with no legs, not being able to get to the "other side" (which I guess is heterosexuality)? Or does that not make sense either.

My thing about SSM is the legal benefits - immigration, inheritance, etc. I used to think it didn't matter to me. Lately I'm realizing it does. It matters in my life a lot, especially if I ever end up being with someone (which I think I might hope to, someday). To me, it doesn't seem like existing solutions (civil unions) cover these kinds of situations.

Anyway, good post. I just don't like it when my brain hurts like this.