Sunday, July 13, 2008

Government and Gay Marriage

Senator John Quincy Adams, in a letter from Washington, DC, wrote to his father John, formerly the second president of the United States, "This is now in general the great art of legislation at this place...To do a thing by assuming the appearance of preventing it. To prevent a thing by assuming that of doing it." (He was trying to stop the spread of slavery into Louisiana Purchase territory). I share the preceding quote only because it recently came to my attention that Arizonans are once again being asked to vote on an amendment to our State constitution addressing gay marriage.

Alas, how far we have allowed Government to stray from its Purpose, and how ignorant today of that Purpose our Society is!

What does gay marriage have to do with law and order? Do we really presume, is it fair to assume, that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic, wary as they were of overbearing interference of any sort on the part of centralized Government - local or national - in the private affairs of the People, intended the State or National Governments to over-regulate Nuptials along with Commerce? And as far as issues go, should homosexual unions concern us, one way or the other, more than the dismal state of public education in the Grand Canyon State? Tell me true, just how much Government do we want in our lives? How much is too much for our own good?

Mind you, Arizona law already defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. An amendment reminding Arizonans of this fact would be redundant, though I to some degree sympathize with - or rather, understand - the paranoia of those supportive of it. For here is the predicament we face, not only in Arizona, but throughout our Union:

Were there an amendment, or a court ruling, which effectively legalized homosexual marriage in Arizona, my native State, my first home, it is likely that earnest defenders of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) "rights" would be as supportive of such an act - of such government intrusion in the private lives of Arizonans - as they are now opposed to the particular measure being discussed presently, which would explicitly prohibit gay marriage here. And though LGBT activists fancy themselves guardians of Liberty and Human Rights, they are hypocrites, unless they are as opposed to a Government blessing gay marriage as they are to a Government proscribing it.

Given past developments in California, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, LGBT hypocrisy is self-evident. Or as Thomas Paine wrote in his second "American Crisis" paper addressed to Lord Howe in January 1777, regarding the Quakers in Philadelphia who took pains to reassure his lordship of their allegiance to George III: "These men are continually harping on the great sin of our bearing arms, but the king of Britain may lay waste the world in blood and famine, and they, poor fallen souls, have nothing to say."


Should it be approved, gay marriage would not contribute to national progress. Nor would it hinder such progress, if not recognized. But this should not be either the State or Federal Governments' concern. It is not an existential issue; it would be as erroneous to say the Revolutionary War was fought so that gays might marry each other, as it would be to say that Lincoln fought the Civil War to end slavery. Nor is this about "civil rights"; the very idea that anyone should have - or be denied - political rights based on the type of relationship, or sex, they have is absurd, but the last time I checked, homosexuals have the right to vote and hold political office.

The chief end of Government - it's raison d'etre, according to the philosophy of those who established The United States of America and blessed the Union with long standing instruments, such as the federal Constitution - is the preservation of individual Liberty, and contrary to conventional wisdom, this does not mean one can do whatever he wishes, irrespective of the effects on others. It does mean, at some level, treating others as you wish to be treated. It does not mean everyone should have their way; just as Government must be restrained, so must we guard against unbridled majorities or tyrannical minorities.

Just as Government should have no say in what religious beliefs you have, or deny, and should not punish you for adhering to certain spiritual beliefs or for lacking them, it is also the case that Government should not possess the unmitigated right to tell you whom you can or cannot wed. Love, we should remember, is rarely respectful of legal boundaries. However, at the same time, I do not feel that a Government selected by a majority should be manipulated to suit the demands of a minority, a minority which is offended that the majority disagrees with it (leading the former to adopt elitist sentiments).

In other words, though I am against Government banning gay marriage, I am as equally - or more - against Government sanctioning it. If I had to choose between one measure or the other, let there be no mystery as to which would have my greatest support. I am entitled to my own opinion, am I not? I surely am, even if, to quote Buckley, those who "claim to want to give a hearing to other views...are shocked and offended to learn that there are other views."

Henry David Thoreau said, in his 1849 tract on Civil Disobedience, "To speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government." Arbitrary laws, such as those seeking to ban flag burning, or unnecessary amendments prohibiting gay marriage (in a State with laws already on the books effectively banning it), do nothing to make our Government better. At the same time, those who via so-called "activist courts" seek to subvert the will and decisiveness of a reasonable majority of the electorate in favor of gay marriage would do us, our State constitution, and our democratic system no favors.

"That government is best which governs the least," said Thomas Paine. How little Common Sense we have today, failing to recognize the truth of such an aphorism!


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