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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Massachusetts lawmakers defeat bid to halt gay marriages

San Francisco Chronicle:

Amid a pep-rally atmosphere, Massachusetts legislators overwhelmingly rejected an attempt to halt same-sex marriages Wednesday -- showing how quickly gay nuptials have moved from being a court-ordered imposition to a powerful political cause. By a vote of 157-39, lawmakers voted down a proposed constitutional amendment that would have eliminated the same-sex marriages legalized two years ago and replaced them with 'civil unions' for gay couples. Instead, the vote leaves same-sex marriage as the status quo in Massachusetts, and it now seems likely to remain so until at least 2008.
While I think it a bad legal argument that equal treatment requires acceptance of homosexual marriage, I continue to believe that it is good policy. Massachusetts is certainly useful in demonstrating that gay marriage won't end all life on earth. The strength of this vote does a lot to show that even if the Massachusetts supreme court got the legal argument wrong, they may well have done a good thing anyway.


Blogger Katinula said...

Curious as to why you think equal treatment is a bad legal arguement for homosexual marriage. In the eyes of the government, marriage is a legal status afforded to two consenting adults. Personal choices for the involvement of religion are just that, personal. Barring extraordinary circumstances (immigration fraud, etc.), how is it not denying equal treatment if gays cannot marry?

9/15/2005 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I hold that society, expressed through the will of the legislature should have a fairly broad right to define what sort of family unions it will countance.

For example, the number two is no more, and perhaps quite less, signifigant to marriage than the requirement that the participants be of opposite genders. Certianly many cultures in that past, and some still today hold that Polygamy is an acceptable practice.

Any legal argument that bases marriage rights solely on rights of individuals and thus requires adoption of gay marriage would demand that polygamy also be accepted.

While, just as with same sex marriage, their might be good policy arguements that marriage should be expanded for to encompass these unions, I do not think their are good legal arguements that it must be expanded for these unions.

In a more theoretical light, I would hold that if the legislatures wanted to change marriage to only apply to people that intended to have children, perhaps even requiring that the couple already be expecting a child before they could gain the benefits of marriage, the legislatures would have that power. This is not to imply that I think this is a good idea, certainly just because something CAN be done doesn't mean is SHOULD be done.

Of course the oft made contention is that gay marriage is similar to interracial marriage. I do in fact hold that legislatures should not have the power to forbid marriage based upon the races of the people involved.

I think that 'race' differs from 'gender' in this issue however. Gender is, first of all, a more concrete item. Barring a small proportion of unusual individuals though, gender can be concretly determined.

In additions, procreation and family is the only interest society can claim on marriage. That marriage should be limited to procreation, but it does mean that procreation is fundamentally linked to marriage. Gender is also fundamentally linked to marriage.

Defining marriage as a union between people of two different sexes, falls into, in my belief at least, defining what the nature of marriage is. Forbiding marriage between difference races on the other hand, is not defining the institution of marriage itself, but defining the nature of individuals that can participate in this institution. This difference may seem subtle, but I think it is profound.

I will certainly concede however that many anti-gay marriage people are simply anti-homosexual. Just as anti-miscegenation people were simply racist.

9/15/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Fred Jones said...

Any legal argument that bases marriage rights solely on rights of individuals and thus requires adoption of gay marriage would demand that polygamy also be accepted.

I have often wondered why those who would promote polygamy ( and they exist) have not attempted to do so in Mass.

9/17/2005 08:11:00 AM  

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