The Bungled v. Conservative Case for Same-Sex Unions

This past weekend, there were several articles addressing the marriage amendment up for a vote this coming fall.  Instead of dealing with it rationally, the Star Tribune printed two articles that merely defame conservatives without addressing the actual issue. The Democratic Party is creating a narrative that suggests if you are for the amendment, which merely memorializes the law as it stands, you are engaging in hateful vitriol and vile acts of bigotry.  However, if you are in favor of same-sex marriage rights, it is perfectly acceptable to allow the status quo to continue; marriage as between only one man and one woman.  The idiocy of this position and the negativity it propounds should be called out and a case should be made for resolving the issue.  First, let’s explore the bungled case against the marriage amendment.

From Marilyn Carlson Nelson, January 14, 2012, ‘The marriage amendment, from all angles;’

“Do we want to shackle our grandchildren, perhaps for decades, with the vitriolic debate and sometimes violence that have preceded the great human-rights victories of our nation?”  I am baffled by this characterization of the situation.  Nelson isn’t a firebrand liberal, yet she is engaging in the most divisive and obtuse argument the Democratic Party uses against conservatives.  Perhaps Nelson has been plagued by lawless gangs of homophobes wandering the state looking for gays to bash, but I haven’t.  AND I’M GAY.  Besides, this argument about whether or not to make the definition of marriage a part of the Minnesota constitution is academic at this point.  Same-sex marriage isn’t legal in this state now and Nelson doesn’t make an argument for any kind of accommodation.  Her case is entirely negative, but she goes even further afield.

“I see myself at the dock waving goodbye to a ship filled with friends, family and colleagues — all of whom happen to be gay. People who through a lifetime of ups and downs have laughed with me, supported me and enriched me”   I have searched high and low, and I haven’t found a single marriage amendment advocate who suggests shipping people like me out of the state.  If we want to find a group of people who enjoy shipping people off to places, it would be progressives who do that.  During World War I, it was progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson who gathered German-Americans into camps.  During World War II, it was progressive Democrat FDR who gathered German-Americans and Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.  We don’t find that kind of behavior among conservatives.  It’s always ‘us versus them’ collectivists who adore marginalizing, demonizing, and isolating groups based on identity.  Nelson’s argument is pure nonsense and it only obscures the issue and brings no light to the debate.

The local Democratic spokesmodels are also willing to add no substance and lots of hyperbole to the discussion.  Lori Sturdevant addresses another strange argument the Left has been making.   She suggests all Republicans must be considered ‘anti-gay’ through guilt by association.  Since Republicans passed the marriage amendment proposal, Republicans must now be perfect people or they are somehow ‘hypocrites.’

“I raise the Smith gossip not to dwell on the personal lives of state politicians, diverting though that topic has been of late.

Rather, my attention is drawn to how quickly a nexus developed between reported affairs of the heart and other body parts, and legislators’ votes for the anti-same-sex-marriage amendment last May.” ‘Lori Sturdevant: The marriage amendment vote,’ January 14, 2012

Let’s take this apart carefully.  Her first canard is absolutely ridiculous.  Rep. Steve Smith of Mound was the victim of a leftwing rumor involving a sexual relationship.  Smith is single.  There is no evidence of a dalliance.  But, Sturdevant, perhaps jealous of the scandalmongers at Politico, brings up an unsubstantiated bit of gossip to make a point that isn’t even a point.  Smith voted against the amendment, but somehow, in the rickety attic which is her mind, Sturdevant thinks this provides her a case against the amendment.  Huh?

She then states her attention is directed to how a legislator votes and their romantic lives.  Why?  Because she’s making political hay over the Koch affair and will continue to connect individual behavior of Republicans to the same-sex marriage argument, a truly wild stretch.  This argument is another case of intellectual dishonesty that obscures the issue.

I have yet to hear an argument for the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman because that will make people faithful.  No one believes a traditional definition will cause fidelity.  The inverse is also ridiculous.  No one I know has ever said if same-sex partners can get married, this will allow opposite sex couple to cheat on one another.  The argument is that marriage is a sacred union between two people of the opposite sex.  What they do within that union is between them.  This mingling of the concept of marriage and private behavior is illogical and borders on the insane.  There is no causal ‘nexus’ between the institution and the actions of individual couples.  Yet, charges of ‘hypocrisy’ never take into account this philosophical dilemma.

To make it even worse, neither so-called advocate, Nelson nor Sturdevant, make a positive case for same-sex unions.  They name-call and smear proponents of the definition as between a man and a woman, but never actually commit to the cause they argue.

Just like President Obama and his so-called, ‘evolving’ opinion on same-sex marriage.  The Panderer-in-chief is against same-sex marriage, well maybe.  He rides the fence because he wants to cater to both sides of the issue.  Yet, no one calls into question the position of the national leader of the Democratic Party.  We don’t hear accusations of Obama being a hypocrite, which he blatantly is.

John Edwards, Democratic Party vice presidential nominee in 2004, gave us a more likely example of excusing infidelity within marriage than do supporters of the marriage amendment.  So did Democratic President Bill Clinton, known perjurer and serial adulterer.  They are certainly far more destructive to the institution of marriage, yet Nelson and Sturdevant never mention their perfidy.  In fact, the organization Moveon.org was established to excuse Clinton, signer of the Defense of Marriage Act, of his crimes.  The Democratic Party sits on the sideline and snarks, but doesn’t do a single thing about the issue. It’s almost like they don’t want to actually help gay people but want an issue to keep gays on their plantation.

As I’ve previously noted.

So, I will make a conservative case for partnership rights for same-sex couples. I will do so without calling anyone a name or casting aspersions at any group.  I will do so with sincerity and integrity.

Same-sex relationships exist and the law makes no accommodation to deal with them.  For example, my partner and I have ordered our lives as a unit.  We planned our retirement, living arrangements, and daily lives around one another.  Our relationship isn’t just a couple of roommates, but two people who have organized our behavior toward a shared end.  Lots of other gay people have done the same.  As a result, when there is a death, or a breakdown, or some other dilemma, the courts have no way of dealing with the situation.  While we are not a married couple, we are also not a casual partnership.

I’ve listened carefully to objections to same-sex marriage and several points make sense. While I don’t agree, I can respect the belief of marriage as an exclusively heterosexual relationship that is a union of two and spiritually ordained.  I can agree that our law’s treatment of marriage is to further the ends of childrearing and care for one another.  Two people are the optimal grouping for these ideals.

What I suggest is we continue to reserve marriage as a unique institution to those ends.  That doesn’t mean we cannot have other arrangements for people like me and my partner.  We can have a legal arrangement like a civil union that our courts and other civil officials can recognize as something different than just two ships which pass in the night.  This is actually a rather conservative idea because instead of using the law to shape human behavior, conservatives like the law to reflect reality.

Let’s consider business relationships as an example.   Formal “C” corporations were initially the first kind of partnership which gave an entity the independence and liability of its own being.  Shareholders were no longer on the hook for the debts or problems of this business relationship.  You could buy stock and earn dividends, but creditors couldn’t go after you personally for the actions of the entity.

This older form of corporation didn’t work well for some kinds of businesses.  Yet, these entities needed to insulate their personal lives from liability for the actions of their agents.  They also needed a kind of organization that would allow others to invest so they could grow, yet didn’t need the expense and formalities of a full blown corporation.  So, we created “S” corporations in 1982 and later LLC’s.  These were business forms that allowed groups of people to invest and operate more flexibly than with the traditional form.  They aren’t better or worse than historically defined corporations, but simply different.

I propose the same kind of arrangement to be created for same-sex couples.  This would allow courts and civil officials to deal with our relationships as we intend instead of simply acting as though we are strangers before the law.  It would allow us the ability to articulate our arrangement instead of pretending we are just roommates.  It’s as with corporate forms, it wouldn’t be better or worse, just different.  It would give same-sex couples standing in the law and yet preserve the traditional form of marriage as it has always been.

The state legislature could create such a form even should the marriage amendment pass.  The constitutional amendment only defines marriage as between one man and one woman.  It doesn’t exclude other forms of relationships having similar status.  It would be a reasonable accommodation that would alleviate an ongoing problem.  And, it wouldn’t change the traditional view of marriage.

See.  I managed to make a positive case for same-sex relationship legal status without recriminations or abuse of another.  I didn’t need to demonize or make spurious accusations toward another person.  I managed to present a position that could alleviate an issue, engage the debate, and make a positive contribution.

And I didn’t suggest shipping anyone anywhere, angry gangs of thugs, or the sex lives of political officials to do it.

Crossposted at Looktruenorth.com