Kurtz sidetrack makes for interesting discussion
A few days ago I read a column on National Review's website by Stanley Kurtz talking about the Raelian cult While I agreed with his general point (that they're nuts w/ some lefty ties), it seemed like he veered off into a rant against gay marriage (?) in the process. For this I fired up my email and let him know what I think:
For the most part I found agreement in your classification of the Raelian nuts as yet more leftys. However, you seemed to turn the column into a rant against gay marriage & polygamy part of the way through; why?
I'm at a loss for what exactly is wrong with these practices law-wise (don't take this to mean I'm endorsing them, only that they should not be illegal). If people of the same sex or more than two people are serious about being married, then what reason is there for the state to care? This type of moral question is not within the authority of legitimate government, it's sole function being to defend the rights of it's citizens; I'm curious what your reasoning would be for otherwise.
He replied the next day (this was a surprise), referencing me to a rather long debate him and a few other people had about the issue earlier, which I read, then shot off what follows:
I've read your earlier debate on gay marriage, and am sadly not shocked by the explanation of your viewpoint. Your part of the discussion generally painted this matter in a communitarian light (by this, I mean that the decision as you've explained it basically boils down to "does the public agree with this?"), which I find odd considering the proposed solution. Sure, in the institution of marriage the shared morals of our society are extremely important, yet this fact does not serve to discredit allowing the states (and thus the people) to decide, but promotes it’s solution remaining in the local political arena. These values were not handed down to our citizens from on high. Indeed, if what is taught about our political structure is true, they cannot BE handed down as such, only figured out and shifted endlessly over time from the ground, via public discourse and simple action. When allowed to be utilized in other situations it works well, where is the difference in this scenario rendering a national overruling necessary? From my interpretation it would seem that if the question asked is “does the public agree with this?” the correct response would be “let’s find out”.
As for your charges that homosexual marriage would only serve to delegitimize marriage itself, this seems to be another large detachment from our usual way of operation. The concern for dissolution of traditional mores is present, yet the argument you put forth is merely half of the equation: obviously if gay marriage were recognized and homosexuals still acted like they were not married there would be public reaction, right? If not, then you have nothing to worry about in regards to the stability of marriage, as the concept is already dead. A societal institution, regardless of its lofty ideals, goes wherever the public allows it to; this is currently the root of many of the problems we’ve had blow up in our faces over the past couple of years (corporate fraud & Muslim extremism, to name two…). With this in mind, how would the blame for marriage losing its meaning rest solely on the gay population? This is essentially saying “we forgot to explain marriage to you, it’s your fault for not reminding us!”.
Personally I come closest to agreement with Jonathan Rauch on the proposed solution to this. As I’ve already said, it’s a matter that isn’t within the bounds of the federal government, not only for my initial reason given, but also according to the 10th amendment. Due to this, the best response in my opinion would be to leave it to the citizens of the individual states to decide. The only federal provision I would suggest would be an amendment solely for clarification purposes, stating that the federal government does not have the power to either a) force states to recognize gay marriage or b) bar them from doing so if they choose.
This was emailed to him a few minutes ago, let's see where this goes...
Update: it's been 12 days, and no answer. I'll take this to mean one of two things: either a) Kurtz doesn't like being questioned or b) he simply has too much stuff to do. I hope it's the latter, but oh well, I tried...*shrug*