Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Marriage, Ours or Theirs?

If you don't happen to live in Texas (if you did, I supposed I would have to address you as "ya'll"), you may not have heard that Texas has a constitutional ammendment on the ballot tomorrow which defines marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman.

I can't imagine that it won't pass, but everyone has been having their say anyway. One of the people who seems to have something very interesting to say is Lee Harris in the Dallas Morning News (HT Julie of HappyCatholic). Harris is a gay, conservative writer and has what I think is an interesting take:
My views did not go over very well at the shop, and the discussion soon became warm – so warm that it suddenly dawned on me that we were no longer talking about the same thing. I wanted to treat the issue purely in terms of the legal right of the individual to express himself, since that was how I thought of the question.

But my crew didn't see it like this at all. For them, the issue had nothing to do with legal rights but turned entirely on the sacred status of the American flag. It was their flag, and they were not about to allow anyone to desecrate it.

My first response was simply to dismiss my blue-collar crew's "opinion" as lacking in intellectual substance, and so not to be taken seriously. But, because these were the people I worked and lived with, this solution could not satisfy me long, and, before I knew it, I began to question my own cocksureness.

My first epiphany was the realization that my crew members had not merely been expressing their "opinion" on the constitutionality of the flag-burning amendment; they had been voicing something that didn't come off the top of their heads, but from the bottom of their hearts. They didn't want to discuss the merits of flag-burning – they wanted it stopped.

And this led to my second epiphany: The flag, for people who are willing to die in its defense, is not merely a conventional symbol; it is something that they have a personal stake in.

In the eyes of my crew members, flag burners and their defenders were both trying to take from them something that was theirs, and that is all that mattered.

Today it is no different. Replace the American flag with traditional marriage, and you will at once see what I mean.

On the one side are those for whom marriage is simply a legal convention, which, like any other convention, can be altered at will.

But looked at in this way, the American flag is also an arbitrary confection, an assortment of red and white stripes with white stars on a blue background. In which case, what is to keep us from replacing our traditional flag with some other attractive arrangement of colors and shapes? Surely no one could possibly complain about such a purely aesthetic change, since the new flag would be just as much the flag of the United States as the old one.

On the other side are those for whom marriage, like the flag, is something that bears the true mark of the sacred: It is inviolable and not to be tampered with.

Does this mean that the flag or marriage has never changed before? Of course not; but it means that any change in either of these sacred institutions must be made and approved by those to whom these institutions belong.
The gay marriage movement seems to me a very "destroy the village to save it" kind of campaign, in that one of the main arguments for extending 'marriage' to same sex couples is that marraige has lost the primary meaning as a concept and social/cultural institution which it has had throughout virtually all of human history.


Julie D. said...

Yes, I found that eye opening also. I think the proposition will pass, protestations of vague language aside, and for the reasons Harris states. Although I'm sure groups are just waiting so they can then rush it to court and duke it out there.

Anonymous said...

"It is not our difference that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences" --Audre Lorde