Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SR: Gay Marriage in Illinois

So the House here in Illinois just passed (61-54) Senate Bill 10 which legalizes 'gay marriage.' The flood of Facebook messages: "Finally" and "I'm so happy" and "#equality." Politicians coming out as gay, companies contorting their image so as to appear inclusive, and anyone who would dare oppose something such as gay marriage are hit with salvo after salvo of "equal protection under the law" and "human/civil rights."

In all the breakdown of certain values, such as "marriage is not a natural institution" and "marriage is not sacred" among other things lawmakers and individuals alike have decided that the former view of marriage is limiting and prejudiced. Regardless of what you believe I imagine any thoughtful reflection on the whole situation reveals a rather odd phenomenon.

Whereas it seems that everything that was once held as common-sense and true is now irrational and false, the invocation of a universal truth has taken form, not of God or of nature, but of the Constitution.

Not everyone believes in God. No one can quite agree on what nature is, far less what is natural in light of technological advances (whether theory or medicine). Not everyone can quite agree on what the Constitution means either, but it does have one advantage--so it seems--to the other two: we all must live under the law.

How is the Constitution a universal truth? It's universal because it's impartial; no one belief or value trumps the other. The way that some base their decisions is on a document they actively try to strip of any concrete value. The value that must pervade all public life is that everyone must respect the values of another.

How does one respect the value of another? Praising it? Ignoring it? Giving to each what he demands and expecting the same for yourself?

We all seem to agree that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are good things until we realize that we don't agree on what life means, we aren't coherent about what liberty is, and we expect that whatever we pursue will undoubtedly make us happy. As long as we agree they're good, right? As long as the law doesn't choose sides, right?

When we as individuals give lawmakers the power to be arbiters over any value we come to see ourselves as masters of any value. No one lawmaker is more powerful than the law, but the law is also a tool.

We can finally be happy, since we believe marriage is a ticket to happiness.
We can finally be equal, unless you don't agree with me to my liking.
We can be public with what we believe, but it's always secondary to the law.

By casting off God and nature as the bedrock of value law will not so much be at the service of man but the only remaining candidate to rule and guide him--and we all know how permanent the law is. Look on any popular page and see the opinion be the same: the power of law will make us all equal, by choice or by force.

What is marriage? A contract between [two?] persons.
What is marriage? A relationship with certain legal benefits.
What is marriage? Certainly not something we can assign any sort of value.
What is marriage, then? Not much, it seems.

(If you're interested in this topic you may enjoy  my follow-up to this article "Marriage as Status."