and the Living Document
March 4, 2004
According to definition, Hilaire
Belloc wrote, the ideal citizen of this Modern State must be free to
act on his individual judgment of morals, must reach conclusions on all
matters by private judgment, but must accept the coercion of any law
whatsoever when it has been decided by a majority of such individual
citizens so concluding.
That about sums it up. The
Modern State, now called Democracy, has no moral principles, but we have
a duty to obey it anyway. Why? Majority rule, you know.
But sometimes the courts
overrule the majority, in which case we have a duty to obey the courts.
Why? The Constitution, you know. But a big enough majority can change the
Constitution. But so can the courts, because its a Living Document.
It gets confusing.
Which brings us to same-sex
marriage. Nobody ever heard of it until ten years ago the
sodomites of antiquity werent loopy enough to think of it
but now its hot stuff and some say the Constitution protects it,
even though the Founding Fathers never heard of it. Even Earl Warren,
William O. Douglas, and Harry Blackmun never heard of it, though
Im sure their faces would have lit up if they had. Those guys knew
a brilliant opportunity for the Living Document when they saw one.
But Thomas Jefferson, if he were
here, might have been a wet blanket on gay marriage. He thought sodomites
should be castrated. And he was a quite a liberal for his day. We can only
guess at how hed have dealt with Rosie ODonnell.
There was at least one example
of same-sex marriage in ancient times: the Roman emperor Nero married a
boy, but only after having him castrated. This may have been a myth
started by his enemies, according to a new biography, and in any case it
might not qualify as a same-sex marriage under todays
redefinition. Hard cases make bad law, even in San Francisco. But it
suggests that Nero, in his own way, had enough respect for the institution
of matrimony not to attempt an ordinary same-sexer. Depends how you
look at it, I suppose.
Since we no
longer agree on what the meaning of is is, let alone sex,
its no wonder we cant agree on marriage. Alice
Roosevelt Longworth once said that Thomas Dewey looked like the groom
on a wedding cake, a
show-stopping witticism when she made it, but today the obvious retort
would be, Which one? Christopher Hitchens favors same-sex
marriage not only because it sort of goes with hating Mother Teresa and
Mel Gibson but also because he and his wife, who is a woman, live on the
same floor as this really, really nice gay couple and if that isnt a
good reason for changing an ancient institution I dont know what
Meanwhile, a prosecutor in one of
the coastal states (I didnt catch which one) has said he
wont indict a local mayor for performing illegal wedding
ceremonies until the states attorney general has ruled on the
constitutional question. Thats the thing about constitutions. You
never know what they mean until someone else decides for you. After all,
they are living things. Unpredictable.
Opinion polls run heavily against
same-sex marriage, but thats exactly why we need the
Constitution. After all, if the majority were sovereign, Al Gore would have
won the 2000 election, and wait! The people who favor
court-imposed same-sex marriage are the very people who still insist
that Al Gore is our rightful president but was robbed by the U.S. Supreme
Court! Like I say, it gets confusing.
What would a Gore
administration have been like? If youre really curious, you can vote
for John Kerry. Personally, I wouldnt want that on my conscience,
for all kinds of reasons. But as for the issue at hand, Kerry opposes
same-sex marriage, but he also opposes a constitutional amendment
banning it, presumably because he knows a lot of really, really nice gay
couples, but also because he believes fiercely in the Tenth Amendment,
which leaves the question of racial segregation to the states. As a liberal,
Kerry is personally opposed to racial segregation, but he doesnt
want to impose his views on others.
Hey, this is America!