Friday, July 22, 2011

Iowa's Immutable Steve King Claims There Is No Right to Marry

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says, "Traditional marriage is a sacred institution and serves as the cornerstone of our society." I agree.

I agree that "civil society has an interest in maintaining and protecting the institution of heterosexual marriage because it has a deep and abiding interest in encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing."

I would also agree that the courts in some states have gone too far. It is one thing to grant gay couples the right to enter civil unions and give those unions rights that are the same or similar to marriage. It is another thing to call it marriage, in the face of a public that might accept gay civil unions but has repeatedly rejected gay marriage at the ballot box.

I am of two minds on the gay marriage debate. I recognize that gay men and women can enter long-term relationships with partners of the same sex that are similar in many respects to traditional marriage unions. I don't buy the argument that not giving gays the various purported tax and insurance benefits of marriage makes them second class citizens. I am middle-aged and single so I don't get those benefits either - should I feel like a second class citizen?

But what does two gay people wanting to join together in union have to do with me? Where is the actual harm to traditional marriage? I understand the values we want to encourage in traditional marriage, but I don't understand exactly how gay unions undermine the institution.

Steve King supports keeping DOMA, the Clinton-era federal law that defined marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." And he makes a slippery slope argument:

"The other side argues that 'you can't choose who you love' and that a union between two men or two women is equal to that of one man and one woman. But these are the same arguments that could be used to promote marriage between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, or even polygamous relationships."
That tells gay people that their relationships are like incest. But the true analogy would be gay marriage between fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters. Incest is illegal. Homosexuality was once illegal, but no longer is.

And as far as polygamous relationships, I hate to break this to Steve, but the DOMA language fails to prohibit it. When a man takes a second wife in societies that permit polygamy, it's still a marriage between one man and one woman. The two wives aren't married to each other. Laws against polygamy prevent an individual from entering multiple marriages at the same time. That can be prohibited for gay marriage too.

Steve King also gets a little fuzzy on civil rights:

Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act says protection for 'race, color, religion, sex, national origin'. Those, except for the Constitutional protection of religion, are immutable characteristics. Those characteristics that are immutable should be injected in the discussion.
That last sentence of Steve's is a bit inscrutable. But let's inject that into the discussion, being gay is an immutable characteristic. Does Steve not believe that?

Steve King is the kind of Republican who says we should regulate something because we want to encourage it:

"A marriage license is offered because that's a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal. It's not a right to get married; that's why states regulate it by licensing. They want to encourage marriage."
Where is the love in calling marriage "a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal"? That's not even true. Heterosexual couples live together without getting married. Nothing illegal about that. And there is nothing illegal anymore about gay couples living together either. Gosh, honey, I'm thinking of doing something illegal, let's get married.

Steve needs to be schooled that there is a right to get married. That's one of those rights that the Ninth Amendment says don't have to be spelled out in the Constitution. Yes, states can put reasonable restrictions on that right through licensing requirements and marriage laws. But you just try to take that right away.

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