Thursday, May 19, 2005

PREVIEW -- Dale Carpenter interview on same-sex marriage

Posted by Craig Westover | 2:32 PM |  

I just returned from interviewing University of Minnesota law professor Dale Carpenter on the same-sex marriage issue. Incorporated in that interview were many of the dissenting points that have made in the discussions and comments on posts here in the past weeks.

This was a very interesting interview, which I’ll try to transcribe and post in a couple days. Carpenter lays out a strong conservative argument for same-sex marriage as well as a methodology for achieving it. Taking into account many of the arguments made against same-sex marriage, his argument is based on benefit to society, not civil rights and not equality before the law, although both those concepts play a role.

What many will find surprising is that despite his support for same-sex marriage, Carpenter agrees with many of its critics on issues like judicial activism, agrees that tactics of some supporting gay marriage hurt the cause and agrees that religion can play a role in legislation without invalidating that legislation constitutionally. He does not agree with the Massachusetts Court decision on gay marriage.

Although he disagrees with the idea of a constitutional amendment defining marriage, and he takes exception to the contention that Minnesota’s proposed amendment intends only to apply to gay marriage, he provides wording for what would be a constitutionally valid amendment that would address fears of judicial actisism mandating gay marriage -- if that is really the concern.

As a gay man, he believes the worst thing that could happen to the gay marriage issue is a federal amendment effectively banning gay marriage. As a conservative gay man, he believes that the second worst thing that could befall gay marriage is that the Supreme Court mandated gay marriage in all states. He believes that gay marriage is a legislative issue, not an issue for the courts.

I found it a fascinating conversation. Carpenter presented a view that for both moral and political reasons conservatives will find challenging. Liberals? You might be surprised at how irrelevant (and perhaps damaging) to the cause your support for gay marriage is. If the battle isn’t won on conservative principles, it probably won’t be won at all.