L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 344, November 6, 2005
"It's the American thing to do."
The Defense of Marriage
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Next July, my wife and I will have been married for twenty-three years.
After all that time, we love each other more than on the day we were wed. We value our relationship, both its formal and informal aspects, both its public and private manifestations. We have been very happy together. We've also been through the wringer, and I still find my charming bride to be the most interesting individual I've ever known.
Now we're being told, by self-appointed advocates of various sorts of legislation claiming to be created "in defense of the institution of marriage", that our relationshipevery moment of pain (I once walked into a room to find my wife lying on the floor with dark blood seeping from her mouth, her lips and fingernails purple, her skin grey and cold to the touch) and every moment of ecstasy the pain paid for (we have a lovely fifteen-year-old daughter we're extremely proud of and happy with, whose birth seems like only yesterday)is somehow endangered or demeaned because other people want the same things we've had.
At one time in America's checkered history, those other people, forbidden to marry, were black slaves; in this instance today, they're gay. Somehow all that good will be erased, goes the claim, if we let gays formalize their relationships in the same way my wife and I did ours.
Two questions come immediately to mind: who gives us (meaning the non-homosexuals) any right to say that two individuals who love one another can't formalize their love in the sight of their families and friends?
And: what's wrong with your marriage, buddy, that it's so weak and fragile that it's somehow changed, simply by other individuals getting married?
When I was much younger than I am now, it struck me as very odd that racistswhite supremistsbelieve that they are part of a superior "Master Race", and at the same time believe that their race is so very delicate and puny, genetically speaking, that its vaunted superiority can be compromised and even destroyed by getting mixed a little.
Some Master Race, hunh?
Of course I was born in the shadow of World War II, in which the very flower of Aryan purity (the ruling clique in Japan was pretty thoroughly racist, too) was defeated by a nation of "mongrels". ("Woof, woof!" says the author of Polish and Irish extraction, married to a lady who's part Serbian and part Bohemian. Our daughter is "pure" American, with so many different heritages she probably can't count them.)
That may have biased me a trifle. I knew, lived next door to, and went to school with kids from mixed marriagesGIs brought plenty of war brides back with them from continents other than Europeand it always seemed to me that the result was prettier and brighter than the general run. Later on, I learned from science that genetic mixes often produce hardier, more vigorous offspring. But on the other hand, a racial supremist's attitude isn't rooted in any kind of science or logic.
You can't reason somebody out of something they weren't reasoned into.
Today we see a modicum of this reflected in an anti-immigration faction claiming that the most vital and progressive civilization in historyand on the face of the planetis in dire peril because it's attractive to individuals of a different ethnicity than those who founded it. I've tried arguing with these folks, too, but as I listened to them, I became more and more convinced that their real problem with open borders is that immigrants might someday move in next door to them.
There goes the neighborhood.
This is a mean, narrow, attitude, unworthy of real red-blooded Americans; it needs to be called what it is: ugly, mindless bigotry. Those who cherish it ought to have the guts to come out and say it plainly, instead of hiding behind tortured, spurious, embarrassing casuistry.
Look it up.
But as usual, I have digressed.
Folks have been formally tying the knot, probably since before they were human. We know the Neanderthals put flowers in the graves of their loved ones. Who's to say they didn't put them in their hair when they jumped over the throwing-spear with the girl or boy of their dreams?
Each and every one of us has that right, even ifthe neocon's worst nightmare, if you believe Rush Limbaughthey want to marry an aardvark. Genuine, lasting love is such a rare and precious thingso valuable that it can give meaning to any life, no matter how bleak to begin withthat it's worth any risk, and I, for one, can deny it nothing.
This position didn't come easily or automatically to me. I was a child of the 50s. I never really met any homosexuals (nobody called them "gay" back then) until I was a grown man in the Libertarian Party. What I noticed then was that not one of them burned any less fiercely to be free than I did. Most importantly, they didn't need my permission to live, or to love, or to do whatever they wished about it.
Second only to being a libertarian all of my life, I've been a Darwinist. I am confident that these issues will all be hammered out in the long run on what I once called "The Forge of Adversity". If an idea is good, if it will help individuals or a society to live long and prosper, it will eventually succeed. If it's bad, then it will perish.
It doesn't need any help from me or anybody else.
The only thing that's wrong with our marriage customs is that we've placed them in the hands of an institution that can only beat people up and kill them. That's what we need to correctit's all we need to correctby completely privatizing marriage once again and letting people formalize their relationship in whatever venue they choose.
It's the American thing to do.
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