Conservative’s Last Stand?
Marriage: A Hill to Die On
Let’s face it, the war is over even if the battles continue for a while. Could be quite a while, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Marriage Equality is here to stay, and will, over time spread across the country. Will that be in a year? In five? I don’t know, but I do know that there is no going backward. I think Robert McCain, author of the linked perspective knows I’m right, although from his perspective the war isn’t completely over- but there is one last big battle- the battle over marriage, and for him, it is a battle worth dying for.
McCain paints a picture of social change since the 70′s as being a push of “the radicals,” and it is safe to assume that he is one of these social conservatives who thinks that if we all went back to being Ozzie and Harriett things would be better. Â We know however that Ozzie and Harriett were never real, but that is another post. McCain’s primary reason for fighting against marriage equality is to try and generate a win, weaken, and demoralize progressives. While I’m sure he feels marriage equalirty is not a good thing, he doesn’t speak against it per se. His approach is to position this into the larger conservatives vs progressives struggle. In otherwords, it is more about “sides” and winning than it is about the realities of our changing society.
For McCain, the trouble began with Richard Nixon and the Equal Rights Amendment. Phyllis Schlafly is his hero, and the recent Iowa decision is just the last step in the ongoing decline that is the result of feminism and what he describes as a radical egalitarian ideology. In this ideology, the differences between male and female are ignored and the two sexes are to be treated as inherently identical.
There are two points here I want to pick up on. first, is this language of “a hill worth dying on.” Is this just graphic imagry, or is there something deeper here? Are we down to the point where there is no understanding? Is this the untouchable topic- the last staw, the one that causes a real battle? The second point is that I think McCain totally misses the point of marriage Equality. It has nothing to do with an egalitarian ideology as he describes. It isn’t that men and women as so identical that two men or two women want to marry, but rather, that love happens. Unless McCain is suggesting that love exists only because a man and a woman bring something different to the it.
This argument is quite different from the less nuanced but noisier argument, that the purpose of marriage is strictly procreational. That argument is far from dead, but it is irrelevant in that people who can not have children marry all the time. Additionally the need for being bountiful in procreation exists no more. As Science has allowed the mortality rate to drop, and people live longer, we do not have the need to create large families of child farm workers or young male soldiers as was once needed.
Conservatives like McCain fail to look back in history any farther than would benifit their feeble claims. Rather our heritage is one of a longer struggle by progressives than the 70′s start for McCain. The Declaration of Independence itself names all men as created equal with rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. How slave owners could sign that important document is the real point of the story! We have spent our entire life as a young country aligning ourselves to this ideal, one small step at a time.Â The end of slavery was not the last step for african-americans, only the very first. And, over time, we have grown to “walk the walk” more and more in terms of racial equality. Nor was women’s suffrage that last step for the women’s rights movement. And the battle for inter-racial marriage is strikingly similar to the battle over same-sex marriage.
So, my impression is far from positive. Much as slavery ignited an upheaval large enough to promt states to secede from the union, conservatives may see this as a reason to fight to the death. and they truly don’t get what the battle is really all about.
My last thoughts arer prompted by McCain’s last paragraph:
It is only by the activist rulings of judges and other officials, never at the behest of voters, that the radical crusade for same-sex marriage has advanced this far. We know which side the people are on. Even Barack Obama was shrewd enough to declare his opposition to same-sex marriage during the presidential campaign. We have seen voters in 30 states pass constitutional amendments to defend the “one-man, one-woman” definition of marriage, and conservatives in Iowa are now planning efforts to add their state to the list.
McCain’s post was written before Vermont’s veto override, so to blame it solely on “activist judges” is silly. But he is true that we have not yet seen marriage equality come into being by direct vote of the public. But this post is too long already, I’ll write about that later. Our country however, developed a thjree-branched governmental structure for a reason- to balance power and protect all, both the majority as well as the minority. Over time, many laws passed by legislators or voted in by the public have been ruled unconstitutional.
Having been given an inch, the radicals now attempt to take a mile. But this is a hill to die on.