Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Some Thoughts in the Aftermath of DOMA

One of the perks of being lazy, even when you're motivated to write something, is that you put enough time between you and your subject to make snark-laced observations. Given that it's been a couple of weeks now since the Supreme Court ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act and we do not yet have government-mandated sodomy time, it's probably safe to say that God will continue to refrain from upending us into the sea. But it's also true, hopefully, that heads have cooled somewhat, and I can put something out there without being overly scandalous: DOMA's demise should be welcomed as an opportunity by the Church in America. Hell, it should probably be welcomed by all the churches.

Let me get this out of the way first: I haven't read the majority opinion in the case, and I don't intend to. That's mainly because the only way this decision could have been arrived at results in what I would call "the right decision for the wrong reason." I've never had a deep emotional investment in what homosexual couples call their relationships. You could be "significant others," "spouses," or you could just call it "juggling" if you want. My quality of life will remain substantially intact. I happen to think that it's nonsensical for a government to extend civil marriage benefits to these couples, for the cold and calculated reason that it is not in the state's interest, and it diverts a tool from its intended role. Let's not forget that the state is concerned primarily with the continuation of the state, and as members die, there are only a couple of ways to replace them. Since we're not gestated in Kryptonian baby-bubbles, we either have to import new citizens, or make them in-house. From a state perspective, birth is preferable because it has the higher probability of maintaining the character of the society, whereas runaway immigration results in a gradual loss of the original social mores over time. Since it's in the state's interest to see more citizens born, there is a logical need to encourage and support procreative couples - people who, as a class and category, have fertility as a defining characteristic. It doesn't matter if some couples can't have children, because they are outliers, and we want an institution that will positively impact overall fertility and the rearing of the resultant offspring in stable units. Homosexual couples (along with, incidentally, any other categorical pairing of humans for whom there is a significant impediment to fertility) do not fit into this mold, ergo, it ought not be in the state's interest to confer benefits. Clearly that is no longer the prevailing opinion in our judicial aristocracy. I don't know whether the state is now in the business of high-fiving people "in love," or what the rationale is. I know without having to look at it that the outcome is wrong, and therefore the reasoning is wrong, too.

I'm happy about the outcome for one reason, though. It keeps civil marriage law squarely with the states, and kills what I always saw as a silly manifestation of Federal overreach.

But enough of that. DOMA's been struck down, or at least the critical portion has been. So now what?

Well, hopefully there will be a little bit of soul searching on the religious side, and a couple of things will come out. First, if the only thing you're on the bandwagon for is keeping the gays out of your marital bliss tree house, then you should probably ask yourself exactly what damage two dudes exchanging vows will do to the (remember, civil) institution that, say, divorce has not done over the last 40 or 50 years. Sorry, folks, but if you're seriously concerned about "protecting" marriage, then you gone done missed the boat in a big way. I think there's very little homosexual couples can do by way of damage to marriage that hetero couples haven't already done. So now more people can get divorced. Whoo-pee.

Secondly, I'm hoping this will remind people of something fairly critical and often-missed: that this whole debate is around a legal structure and not a sacrament. I've had this argument before with my longtime reader, but civil marriage is just not in the same ballpark as the sacramental variety, if it's even the same sport. This is an opportunity for all the churches, but Catholics in particular, to draw a much starker line between the two. There are some who suggest that we should drop the word "marriage" entirely. That would be a start. I would take it a step further and say that we should get out of the business of being a state proxy in this department altogether. We'll do what we do, confecting sacraments and dispensing graces, but if you want a marriage license, go see a justice of the peace.

That's the way I'd approach it, at any rate. I'm not an optimist, though, so I expect that the activists are going to continue to do whatever they do. There's too much money - er, too many souls, that is, at stake, for them to just take there marbles and go home. As for me, I'm going to go to work and then go home, much like I do every weekday. But maybe just a little bit gayer than before.

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