Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.”     Ronald Reagan

January 20, 2010

Gay Marriage — Far LESS Harmful Than Democracy

by Brad Warbiany

I’d like to claim that I’m not one to pick nits — but I’d be lying. So here is exhibit 10,483 in the “Brad takes part of a post he agrees with and spins it way out of context.”

The base post is about marriage and in support of gay marriage. But I found this analogy somewhat off:

What opponents of same-sex marriage cannot explain is how exactly same-sex marriage undermines the institution of marriage. It broadens the definition, to be sure; but that definition still includes opposite-sex marriage. We broadened the definition of voting when we allowed non-landowners, women, minorities, and 18-year-olds to vote. Democracy is a process of broadening; it’s an evolutionary thing.

You see, there’s a difference. Allowing gays to marry does not make my marriage to my wife any less meaningful. Allowing gays to marry does not infringe upon any of my natural rights. In fact, while I have no problem with gays (and have several gay friends), it doesn’t change the way anyone might think about gays. Gay marriage doesn’t stop homophobes from being homophobes just like Loving v. Virginia didn’t stop racists from hating blacks.

Democracy, though, is far less tolerant. The masses of the nation can democratically infringe upon my rights. They can forcibly seize more of my earnings as “taxes”. They can impose regulations on every aspect of my life, including how much water my toilet can flush. And worst of all, they hold in their power the ability to determine who I may or may not choose to marry. I’m lucky enough to be in the “politically favored” rather than the “minority” status on that one, but that doesn’t in any way change the nature of democracy. While I don’t oppose the expansion of voting on fairness grounds (it should be clear that I’m against democracy on its own merits), every expansion of voting only widens the pool of people who think they can tell me what I can and cannot do.

I don’t like the idea of comparing gay marriage to democracy. After all, one of the two should be opposed. Just not the one most people think.

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5 Comments

  1. I totally agree! A naturalized immigrant has the power to vote away a U.S. citizen’s marriage rights. This reality is dead wrong! A crazy religious bible thumper has the power to vote away a non-religious person’s marriage rights. This reality is dead wrong!

    If the plaque in the SCOTUS that says the following: “equal protection under the law,” means anything proposition 8 will fail!

    Comment by Flex — January 20, 2010 @ 6:36 am
  2. This is a concept that I’ve been struggling with. When it comes to governing we seem to have to have a dilemma of “who gets to decide”. With democracy we give everyone the ability to decide, and that leads to a mob rule with the problems that you mention.

    The alternative (at least the most commonly considered one) is a constitutionally limited republic. We must remember that our country began in this way, and essentially evolved into a democracy through universal suffrage and amendments to allow popular elections for the senate and the president.

    If we look at how this evolved, a republic is basically formed by a committee of people. It is a series of compromises. And since the founders aren’t omnipotent, they allow for a future process for amendments. These always leaves open the possibility that whatever the original intent may have been, it can and will evolve over time. Furthermore what is to say that the founders intent is to be any better or any more directed toward liberty than the masses?

    The move toward democracy largely happened because of all of our rhetoric (not intended to be a negative connotation) toward liberty. The masses will of course eventually say “I want that.” So once again we seem to have the irony that more liberty leads to less liberty.

    So “who gets to decide”. The founders? A group of selected or elected individuals bound by a constitution that they are free to amend or ignore? The masses? In any case the opportunity is always available to those with power to restrict individual liberties.

    Comment by CJS — January 20, 2010 @ 6:44 am
  3. CJS,

    My alternative is that for some things, nobody decides. Or, more accurately, each individual decides for himself/herself. Some things (natural rights, freedom of contract, freedom of association) simply shouldn’t be voted on.

    I should point out that I’m not anti-Democracy compared to other forms of government. My argument against democracy is that people think it legitimizes the infringement of natural rights. We (rightly) castigate monarchy, dictatorship, oligarchy, etc as bad and illegitimate forms of government. But while democracy is just as good at taking away rights, we consider it legitimate. That’s what I’m arguing to change.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — January 20, 2010 @ 1:29 pm
  4. Excellent analysis on the democracy issue.

    We live in a world where it seems that in the name of “diversity” each of us is thrown into a group or class, like it or not and forced to make concessions offer favors and make arrangements with this group or that.

    Our uniqueness, personal dignity and independence gets highjacked by the state to endorse and support others who are perfectly able to fend for themselves.

    I am OK with democracy being used to promote tolerance, but when our freedoms and resources are expropriated to promote others, the line of propriety is crossed.

    Comment by Let's Be Free — January 21, 2010 @ 10:15 am
  5. Whose business is it anyway?

    The practice of marriage and marrying another individual is an act that has
    been performed before the U.S. Constitution was established. The word marriage means any close or intimate association or union. Same-sex couples in the United States have been attempting to achieve legal recognition for their unions since the early 1970s. (Burns) A marriage is the ability to love, trust, and devote yourself to another person. Love is an undeniable right everyone in the U.S.A has, however forty five states take this right from millions of Americans daily. Same sex marriages should be allowed in the United States of America as a personal choice of freedom that this nation is founded upon. States including, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, and Connecticut have come together to speak for the loving couples who wish to marry by allowing same sex marriage. (CNN)
    An argument that is brought up when discussing same sex marriage refers to the bible and how homosexuality is a sin. However, the people of the United States of America have the right to practice freedom of speech and religion, making this argument invalid. In 1978, the United States Supreme Court declared marriage to be “of fundamental importance to all individuals” (Zablocki v. Redhail). The court described marriage as “one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’” and “the most important relation in life.” (Burns) The court also noted that “the right to marry is part of the fundamental ‘right to privacy’” in the U.S. Constitution. When civil rights are at stake there is no such thing as deserving them; they are intrinsic to our very way of life. (Gannon) Marriage seems as basic to me as the freedom of religion or of speech. Most people don’t question why we have freedom of religion or speech; we have these rights because all free people have them, because it is wrong for the government to infringe upon them. Therefore, the ability to marry another human being, male or female is a right no one should be allowed to rob us of.

    Some people believe that if same sex marriage is legalized, it will open the door for practices such as Polygamy. (Hunt) However, this statement is entirely false. Legalizing same sex marriage is strictly restricted to just that, two people of the same sex. Marriage is the union of two beings and having more than one husband/wife is not a wholesome union. Homosexuals are not trying to harm society, but simply empowering their rights as Americans. (Burns) Same-sex couples want to get married for the same reasons that heterosexual couples do. They not only want the legal rights and benefits of marriage; they also want to be regarded as married by society. It is all too easy for the rest of society to ignore same-sex relationships, and to assume that they are only sexual, or involve no serious long-term commitment or sharing of finances and household responsibilities. Many gay and lesbian couples want to make it clear to everyone that they have a relationship of the same general kind as society expects of married couples.(Wedgwood) In my opinion, being a heterosexual female myself don’t feel anyone has the true authority to regulate who any human being decides to honor in wedlock. It is a special bond in which two people who truly love each other share. Just because it is a couple of the same sex, does not mean they are not worthy of acquiring a marriage license, which in reality is only a piece of paper with signatures on it.

    Marriage is commonly but not entirely associated with children. But, clearly this world has evolved since the traditional “white picket fence” family. Millions of children are cared for daily by persons other than their biological parents. (Sullivan) If society has adapted to different social living situations, then why can’t it be glorified? You could even go on to say that children of same sex marriage couples have the potential to be happier with parents who are completely devoted to one another, with same sex marriage being illegal, as opposed to people who marry simple because of an unplanned pregnancy. Whether or not the couple has plans of raising children, given how “adaptable” the U.S. has become, it will have no harmful argumentative influence over the child. (Burns)It’s absurd that the citizens of the United States of America are still having simple rights stripped from them. Laws are beginning to affect our daily personal life, and how we choose to live it. To love someone else is an undeniable right everyone has. Where’s the freedom in restricting someone’s ability to love and show devotion to another human being, and where’s the justice in never giving them the chance to prove you wrong?

    Work Cited

    “New Hampshire now 5th state to allow same-sex marriage”. CNN. 1.10.10 .

    Gannon, Heather Ann. “Same-Sex Marriage Should Be Allowed.” Opposing Viewpoints: Family. Ed. Karen Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Baltimore County Public Schools. 10 Jan. 2010 http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010136208&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=bcps&version=1.0.

    NOLO Law for All. “The Legal Context of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States.” Contemporary Issues Companion: Gays and Lesbians. Ed. Kate Burns. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Baltimore County Public Schools. 10 Jan. 2010 http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010359217&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=bcps&version=1.0.

    Wedgwood, Ralph. “Society Should Allow Same-Sex Marriage.” Opposing Viewpoints: Homosexuality. Ed. Mary E. Williams. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1999. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Baltimore County Public Schools. 10 Jan. 2010 .

    NOLO Law for All. “A Legal History of Same-Sex Marriage Battles in the United States.” At Issue: Gay Marriage. Ed. Kate Burns. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Baltimore County Public Schools. 10 Jan. 2010 http://find.galegroup.com/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010014217&source=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=bcps&version=1.0.

    DeMarco, Donald. “Same-Sex Marriage Should Not Be Allowed.” Opposing Viewpoints: Family. Ed. Karen Miller. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Gale. Baltimore County Public Schools. 10 Jan. 2010 .

    Comment by Candi Cowan, Ms. Avallone Period 1 — January 21, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

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