January 17th, 2010

Texas

Sometimes, conservative columnists do get it wrong

The token conservative at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is Katherine Kersten. She's generally on target, but she bangs the anti-same-sex-marriage drum a little too much. In response to her latest column, I sent her the following email:

I am one of the conservative minority in Minnesota, and I read and support your writings whenever they appear in the Star-Tribune. In general, you're right on target. There's one issue where we part ways, though: same-sex marriage.

I understand your religious views on the subject. However, as the Supreme Court has ruled, marriage is a fundamental right of American citizens. To deny it to a substantial part of the population because of something they did not choose and cannot change is simply wrong, and a blot on America's banner as the land of liberty. It is exactly equivalent to telling a black man that he cannot marry a white woman.

Nobody is suggesting that a church be required to perform same-sex marriages it finds incompatible with its beliefs. We already have civil marriage as a recognized institution in this country. Churches would be free to believe as they wish - but they would not be free to impose their beliefs on others. To allow them to do so would lead, for example, to Muslims being able to impose Shari'a law on Christians. This is no different.

Calls for popular vote on the subject are misguided. Which of your civil rights would you subject to a vote of the public? Your right to speak freely? Your right to keep and bear arms? Your freedom from unreasonable search and seizure? All could well be in jeopardy if submitted to a popular vote. Why, then, should the right to marry be any different?

Finally, as to the objection that a same-sex marriage is bad because it does not provide for children: would you then prohibit a woman who has had a tubal ligation or a hysterectomy from marrying? Or a woman who is fertile, but simply refuses to have children? What about a man who has had a vasectomy? Is he out of luck too?

The fight against same-sex marriage by conservatives who love freedom in other matters discredits the movement and causes opposition to it by people who would otherwise support it. When conservatives realize that the cause of freedom must necessarily embrace those freedoms one finds personally objectionable but harmless to others, and stop fighting those who seek to advance the cause of freedom, they will be much better off in seeking to chart the course of our society.
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