Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 21, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

NO MORE MARRIAGE?....Jonah Goldberg writes:

I've now read 8 gazillion emails on gay marriage. One of the interesting trends has been an increase in the number of conservatives who say government should get out of the marriage business altogether. While I think this is probably -- though not definitely -- a bad idea, I generally find it an admirable tendency.

....What I find admirable about conservatives' increasing willingness to pull-up the plank of state support for marriage is that it reveals A) an openness to new arguments B) a dogmatic preference for a smaller state, even at the cost to your side and C) a reflexive decency which says I'd rather the state do nothing than impose my views on the unwilling.

Actually, I have my doubts that many genuine conservatives really feel this way, and if they do I hardly find it admirable that anti-gay prejudice among these readers is so violent that they'd rather get rid of state-sponsored marriage entirely than allow gays to get married.

But what I'm really curious about is this: what are they talking about? Do they just want states to get out of the marriage license business? Or do they want recognition of the institution entirely abolished? No more survivor benefits for Social Security, no joint tax returns, no exclusion for testifying in court against your spouse, etc. etc. The laws of this country recognize marriage in thousands of ways, and eliminating one of the duties of the county clerk's office (a) doesn't change that much, and (b) doesn't exactly make a dent in big government.

It's a very peculiar position. "Reflexive decency" hardly seems to be the best description of it.

Kevin Drum 9:24 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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