Thursday, April 07, 2005

How I'm more for gay empowerment than most liberals

In my column about gay marriage, I made what I thought to be a rather commonsense observation: that, if gays are semantically and spiritually capable of marrying, then nothing is preventing them. Government endorsement or privileges are not an intrinsic part of any substantive definition of marriage.

That it is not, should be intuitive. Just ask yourself these questions:

1) in a world without government, would marriages still exist?

2) if the government all of the sudden said they would no longer legally recognize marriages, would that mean an abrupt end to marriage? Would long-time husband and wife immediately split up? Or would they stay together, and operate as if still married?

5) In the future, if you walk down the aisle with with another person, what is going to be going through your mind? Is it going to be excitement over the legal benefits that you will now qualify for? Or is it going to be excitement over the commitment you are about to make to your partner, in front of whatever deity you choose?

4) Some gay people have solemnized their marriages already, without government help. Do you consider these marriages to be fake? Would you be willing to go up to these people and tell them their marriages are not real?

This last question raises a point that many missed, such as, for example, the Fourum commenter who compared me to Fred Phelps (a one-time guestblogger). What they missed was that I was making the most profound statement on gay empowerment possible: that the ultimate freedom to define oneself through marriage is reserved to a person regardless of what others might say. The freedom to commit yourself wholly to another person cannot be taken away by any temporal authority. This is the most profound statement that can be made in support of gay rights [now where's my bracelet?].

Liberals take a different track. They say that, in order for gay marriages to be real, the government must say they are. Their can be no spiritual, loving commitment without the government's imprimatur. From a libertarian viewpoint, this is a frightening swift step down the road to serfdom.

The more powerful liberal argument for gay marriage, than that marriage should be a right,(but flawed in the end) is one of equality. It says that, even though people can commit themselves wholly to one another in marriage, the legal incidents thereof are being denied gays, which is unjust because it violates a prinicple of equality. But this is a separate argument, and as soon as a person has shifted their position to here, they've admitted that marriage, as a right, is not being denied gays.

As I've said before, the liberal argument for gay marriage boils down to two points:

1) Marriage is a right, that shouldn't be denied anyone

2) Under some principle of equality, gay marriages must have the same treatment as regular marriages.

The first of these propositions is obviously flawed, as explained above. The second is also flawed.

When the argument becomes really interesting, is when Liberals start arguing about taxation and inheritance rules--which brings us around full circle back to the Libertarian view, and reaffirms the connection between strong property rights and human freedom in a way that liberals probably don't want to. I'll write more about this later.


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