Today, the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments about the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.
While the Justices grill both legal sides, I’m sure that on the steps of 1 First St., there will be people rallying with a single message: “Gay people should have the right to be married — they should have the same rights as anyone else.”
And that message epitomizes the problem in this country: entitlement.
What makes some people think that they have inalienable rights to fly in the face of other people’s morals?
This is what makes Saxby Chambliss — the 69-year-old who’s been in Congress since 1995 — so refreshing. Last week, when asked if his views on gay marriage had changed, the senior senator from Georgia said, “I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.”
Apparently, some left-wing extremists have decried Chambliss’ quip as a nonsequitur, which troubles me because they’re dismissing the larger issue. How could anyone oppose a section of a bill that forces
a poor, nice gay man Chambliss to marry Chambliss a gay man?
And therein lies the question no one seems to have the guts to ask: if we permit gay marriage, what comes next? Forcing people who aren’t gay into gay marriage?
Haven’t we all heard about freedom to choose whom we want to marry? The freedom to be left alone or equal protection? Laws can’t single certain people out — it’s downright unconstitutional.
But maybe that shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the gay marriage debate, we seem to have forgotten the First Amendment. The word “marriage” belongs to the church. The government can’t just take over a religious word and celebration. Can you imagine the government giving out marriage licenses — hypothetically, for instance, any two people could go down to some marriage license bureau and pay, say, $80 to get married? It would make a mockery out of the sacred church ceremony and would be completely out of line with separation of church and state.
Yet that seems to be the way we’re heading. It’s only the few gerontocrats like Chambliss who stand between upholding my religious moral values over ones that are just wrong.
The thing is, people throw all sorts of ridiculous questions to confound the issue. If marriage is meant to facilitate reproduction, why can the elderly marry? Seriously — who’s going to impinge upon their grandmother’s rights?
I’ve heard some people claim that if Congress can pass laws approving traditional marriage through measures like tax breaks for straight, married couples, Congress could also, if it was comprised of predominantly gay politicians, approve of only gay marriage in similar way. The proposition is absurd — the current senators aren’t singling gay people out because they’re in power, nor could they simply for that reason. Instead, Congress does it because the community is a small minority they don’t like (and morally so!).
By now, I’m a bit resigned to the fact that no matter how many compelling reasons I put forward, someone on the other side will come up with another specious claim to get their way.
But no matter where you stand, can’t we agree this is an issue that each state has a right to decide? The federal government shouldn’t even come close to taking a stance on whether gay marriage is moral or not.
That said, I hope the federal Defense of Marriage Act stands. I hope the Supreme Court’s current review of DOMA finds that, in America, we shouldn’t take everyone’s right to equality seriously. History’s on my side: we’ve never given gays the right to marry. And if we’re stubborn enough — and have enough elderly, dogmatic Justices — perhaps it’ll stay that way.
Some people have asked me if I’ll ever change my views. The question is reasonable, especially now. Just recently, Senator Rob Portman reversed his stance on gay marriage, two years after his son came out, saying, “The Golden Rule … influenced [him] in terms of [his] change on this issue.”
I’m obstinate in my ways, but that really did make me think. One day, I might change my views too. But as with all “entitlements,” it’ll just have to be the day the Golden Rule benefits me and not just some people I don’t understand (like that guy in rainbow skinny jeans across the street who I swear holds the keys to tear down this country).
Steven Jaffe: Bad to the [broken] bone.
_This article appeared in the Daily Pennsylvanian’s Joke Issue 2013. For more information, click here