Sunday, July 18, 2004

Libertarianism and the Federal Marriage Amendment

The US Senate has voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Of course, most of you already knew that. Nearly three people in four in the U.S. oppose gay marriage, almost the same proportion as are otherwise supportive of gay rights. This means that many of the same people who are passionately in favor of gay rights oppose gays on this one issue.

One blogger who has something useful to say is Christian libertarian Joshua Claybourn . He opposeds the federal marriage amendment on the grounds that God grants men the freedom (never the permission) to sin. He believes that the church should reclaim marriage as an institution.
It's time for the church to stop relying on the state to carry out its moral, evangelical, and leadership responsiblities. Gay marriages should not send Christians, Jews, and Muslims home with their tails between their legs. It should revitalize a grassroots effort to truly make its case, not through Senators, but through personal relationships and church evangelism.

There are some important questions that I think one must ask when considering it. How many hearts will the amendment change, and how will it change them? Do the amendment's supporters expect people to view the debate or provision and conclude that homosexual unions are in fact wrong? I'm guessing no heart will be convinced of that through an amendment, but I'm positive that countless hearts will be hardened by a party and, indirectly, a faith that isn't accurately portrayed in this debate. Recent letters in the Advocate demonstrate that quite well. Is the Christian faith more concerned with changing hearts or controlling actions?

Today 37 US states have a Defense of Marriage Act, as does the Federal government, which essentially states that the government will not acknowledge nor recognize any other marital union but that between one man and one woman.

Eric Seymour on the same blog has an interesting comment as to why the FMA should have been supported.
In the case of gay marriage, (or civil unions) those who are opposed to it seek not to ban an activity. None but the most extreme seek to criminalize gay relationships, because doing so extends the reach of the government much, much too far into the realm of private lives. Rather, opponents of gay marriage wish to withhold approval of homosexuality. Government recognition of marriages conveys an approval of these relationships, because marriages and families are the basic units of society and provide the best situation for the raising of children. Because our government holds its power by the consent of the people, this approval is in essence granted by the people, not by some disembodied force.

And this from the Wall Street Journal
This is the beginning rather than the end of a debate that will be better served when Congress gets around to letting all sides--including those who favor gay marriage--be heard. We understand those who believe that the courts can't be trusted and that the only answer is therefore to define marriage for all time as specifically and categorically as the Allard language does.

But a good rule of thumb is that when it comes to Constitutional remedies, the best answer is usually the more modest one. The best way to address the problem of mayors and courts bent on substituting their own personal agendas for the law is simply to return the decision about recognizing gay marriage to where it truly belongs: with the American people.

This vote is just the beginning. The battle lines have been drawn. Now the American people know which senators know who are pro-marriage and which ones are pro gay rights.

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