Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Yeah, What He Said

Christopher Hitchens on The Married State:
So, even if I did not feel much more strongly about an unmolested Constitution than I do about most things, I would first have to answer the question: How do gay marriages threaten or challenge heterosexual ones? And with this comes another question: Why are the advocates of the one and only and immemorial man-woman marriage apparently so chronically insecure? On the same floor as the Hitchens family live two chaps, who are as clearly spliced as any couple I know. They hold responsible Washington jobs, they take an interest in the civic health of the city, and they help raise the children of a previous marriage into which one of them had entered. (Never forget, by the way, the forgotten hell that was the consequence of pressure for gay people to try to marry heterosexuals and make a go of things.)

In any domestic emergency involving my wife or daughter, I would probably turn first to these neighbors. The only discomfiting thing I find about their domestic arrangements is their practice of clasping hands for grace before meals. I can't make myself feel that my own marriage is undermined, or rather would be undermined, if they could legally tie the knot. Would I dance at their wedding? Undoubtedly, and always assuming I would be asked. Would my tenderly nurtured daughter go into shock? I can't see it happening.

On the other hand, if Charlize Theron and her beau were to wed and to move in next door, neither I nor my wife (assuming that the beau is the one pictured at the Oscars) would have complete peace of mind. Indeed, the Ten Commandments specifically caution me only against other heterosexual marriages. I say they warn me, because these injunctions only bother to warn men against coveting their neighbor's wives, or indeed any other of his animals or chattels. If this is all that god understands about the human nature he is said to have set in motion, we may all hope to slip by.

I share many of the misgivings that are expressed about opportunistic grandstanding by judges or mayors, but surely this problem, and not sexuality, ought to be the province of constitutional law. The Texas sodomy statute, for example, should have been struck down or repealed not as a 'rights' or 'equal protection' matter, but because it was an attempt to instate the teachings of a book that not all of us regard as holy, and to make an establishment of religion. Nothing can possibly violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution more than that.[Nitpicker emphasis]


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