Friday, March 29, 2013

Everyone Should Be Permitted to Enjoy the Exquisite Pain of Marriage

By Craig

What I'm about to say is hardly original. (I've heard a number of variations of the following statement quite a bit over the past week.) But it so accurately describes my feelings on the subject that I'm going to say it anyway. I believe that gay couples have every right to be just as miserable as I've made my wives over the years.

Like many people out there, I haven't always felt that way. It's only in the past few years that I've come around to the point of view that same sex marriage ought to be allowed. But please, don't criticize me for being late to arrive to this party. Remember, no one is born with all of their wisdom at once. Wising up takes time and experience. Sometimes we have growth spurts and sometimes long periods of time go by with no apparent progress in the wisdom department.

I probably qualify as a serial monogamist. (I've been married three times in case you're keeping score.) I only wish that sometime earlier I might have run into one of those evangelical Christians who would have told me that marriage was only for procreation. If so, I might have stopped getting hitched years ago.

When it comes down to it, the arguments of those who oppose same sex marriage are pretty weak. I don't find, "This is the way it's always been," to be very persuasive. Neither is, "Well, if you are going to allow gays and lesbians to marry, what's to stop people from being married to more than one spouse at at time?" The answer to that is when the state starts allowing heterosexuals to be polygamists but doesn't allow gay people to do so, then you might have a point.

Having said all that, my prediction (based on reading various news accounts of the oral arguments) is that the outcomes of the two cases on same sex marriage that are pending before the Supreme Court are going to be somewhat disappointing to those of us who are hoping for an affirmation of equal rights for gays and lesbians. Rather than decide either of those cases on Constitutional equal protection grounds, the basis for the rulings will be much narrower. Proposition 8 will be struck down but there will probably be no sweeping declaration that same sex marriage must be adopted in all 50 states. The Defense of Marriage Act may very well be decided on the grounds of "Full Faith and Credit." That is, if a state says same sex couples can legally marry, then the federal government will have to respect that state's definition of marriage. But it will be the states who get to decide in the first instance who can enter into a valid marriage.

Yes, the law moves slowly and this particular Supreme Court seems to be in no hurry to move the ball down the court. It's probably another example of wisdom coming slowly and not all at once.