Saturday, November 19, 2005

Same-sex marraige issue draws comments

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:28 AM |  

Same-sex marriage an explosive issue, and my Pioneer Press column posted here, is drawing thoughtful comments on both sides of the issue, mostly from conservatives, most that disagree with my conservative position on same-sex marriage, some that agree.

What is interesting is that conservatives that join me in support of same-sex marriage support my conclusion with liberal arguments about civil rights, the idea that any two people that love each other have a "right" to get married and the like. Liberals take me to task for not making those arguments and putting the burden of proof on supporters of same-sex marriage to demonstrate that it will not harm the institution of marriage.

Below is my response to one such liberal comment. Perhaps it opens another line of debate on the same-sex issue.
I agree with where your argument arrives, but I disagree with the form of your argument. Let me make this point --

Being conservative or liberal has less to do with one’s position on issues and everything to do with how one arrives at one’s position on issues.

Applying that principle to the same-sex marriage debate, whether or not one supports same-sex marriage does not make one a liberal or a conservative. How one arrives at that position does. In general, you’re making a liberal argument for same-sex marriage that I disagree with.

Your first claim is correct, that the intellectual burden of proving harm to society from homosexuality falls on those who would make it illegal. But the same-sex marriage debate is not about taking the fundamental right of liberty away from homosexuals. It is about extending the existing civil institution of marriage to a group. Marriage is not a fundamental right. In that case, it is the group seeking the extension that bears the burden of proof that no harm will occur to the institution.

I agree with your “simple” solution vis a vis churches are the final arbiters of what is or is not a sacramental marriage. That, however, does not solve the issue of civil marriage and to whom it might be extended.

As a conservative that believes in individual rights not collective rights, my interest is in supporting those that share the view of marriage as a sacrament, regardless of their sexual orientation. Also as a conservative, I recognize that change, drastic change, works only when accomplished through consensus not coercion. I cannot run a double blind scientific test to prove same-sex marriage will not harm society. I can advocate it as a conservative objective that conservatives ought to work toward.

At a breakfast meeting of conservatives the other day, I got into this discussion with one of the people you would describe as a “Christian fundamentalist” with some derision, I with respect. In response to my conservative argument, he noted that he understood the logic I was using because he used it himself on other issues, but marriage was “different.” The discussion ended with his acknowledgment that I have some points, but he simply disagrees with me.

That brings me back to my point -- conservatism and liberalism are philosophies not rubrics over a pro/con column of issues as both the man at breakfast and you would make them. Both sides need to look at where their philosophies lead rather than torturing their philosophies to reach desired outcomes.
Category: Same-Sex Marriage