A Marriage of Culture and Disenfranchisement
Apparently, it’s time to dust off the Federal Marriage Amendment; the California Supreme Court has redefined marriage to include same-sex couples. For those who may have forgotten, the most prominent version of the FMA read as follows:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
As I argued at the time, the effect of this language would be to prevent the expansion of the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and, while enabling state legislatures to grant rights to same-sex couples (a moral, even necessary, capability in some respects), to require that all civil union–type laws to explicitly grant rights to any new unions without the shorthand of referring to marriage.
That arrangement is as it should be for a changing culture because:
- It leaves culturally central definitions such as that of marriage to the people
- It allows states to acknowledge and accommodate changing life arrangements and adapting social practices, while forcing them to consider what has changed and what that change requires.
- If the changes effected by number 2 become sufficiently thorough — and thoroughly accepted — the amendment can be stricken to erase the legal distinction to mirror the by-then erased cultural distinction.
This process is the appropriate one because it enables our society to bring about change in such a way as to preserve that which is good and necessary in marriage, while experimenting with the expansion of its principles to other groups. Of equal importance, it arrests divisive government trends that have made all cultural battles national in scale and hinged them on the largely unelected judicial oligarchy.
Of course, the more likely course of events is for people who think they’re marching on “the right side of history” to push their preferred change by any means possible, consequences be damned (or consequences be dismissed and wished away), while other people seek to avoid making ideologically defining decisions that often put them at odds with their own emotional inclinations, as well as the emotional inclinations of those whom they love and respect, thus forcing the opposing side into ever-more-defensive maneuvers, thus ensuring further cultural division and an escalation of civic hostilities.