Marriage Every Which Way
The typical response from the opposition has been simply dismissive when I’ve argued the inappropriateness of civil rights claims for same-sex marriage. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman, and it’s plainly true that nothing bars homosexuals from entering into such relationships except their own desire. Advocates for the redefinition of marriage respond, essentially: “Gee, great. They have a right to something they naturally do not want and are barred from equating what they want with that to which they have a right.”
In that context, one discerns a degree of self-refutation in such testimony as that offered by Erna Howarth, of Coventry:
I was married to a wonderful man for 26 years before his passing. I am now in a committed relationship with a wonderful woman. We have been together for eight years. There is no difference! …
This country was founded to allow its citizens to live and believe freely, despite our differences. It was founded to prevent discriminatory laws that deprive the minority the same rights as the majority!
As an American citizen, I have the right to marry the person I am in a committed relationship with, to live and work where I choose. No one has the right to tell me no!
How much clearer can it be that Ms. Howarth has precisely the same right as any of her fellow Americans to enter into the relationship that the society understands as marriage? What she is actually claiming is a right to define the terms by which her fellow Americans may define their society. She claims for herself, that is, the right to deny those with whom she disagrees the ability to affirm the bleedingly obvious distinction between male-female relationships and, in her case, female-female relationships.
The conversation could proceed in a variety of directions — from the relative importance of self-governance to the requirement of specificity in the law to the variety of “committed relationships” to which Howarth’s argument may also be applied. The fundamental disagreement will follow us on all counts, however. To the Howarths of the modern day, one need only recast one’s preferences as a “right” in order to demand wholesale reworking of the entire civic sphere.