The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The California Supreme Court's gay marriage decision

We have often, on economic and foreign policy matters, found common cause with the people who call themselves conservatives. But on most social issues, they are on opposite sides of the issue from my own feelings. I am sure this will be equally true with regard to the new California Supreme Court decision.

I have never understood why conservatives, who believe that in the economic sphere the government should be minimally involved, letting the market mechanisms do their thing, suddenly, when the issue is social, take the position that the government should take a stand and ram that position down the throats of the people. If two gay people get married, who does it hurt? It certainly doesn't affect a straight person's ability to marry whomever he or she wants.

Some people have said that there is no equality issue here, that gay people are trying to win special privileges that straight people do not have -- I suppose, because straight and gay people alike have the right to take an opposite-sex spouse. Well, Anatole France is quoted as saying: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread.” Obviously, just in the same way as rich have no particular reason to "sleep under bridges, beg in the streets or steal bread," gay people have no particular wish to take an opposite-sex spouse.

Some people have claimed that, by requiring the state to recognize gay marriage, the rights of clergymen who do not want to officiate over such marriages are somehow interfered with. Well, to my knowledge, no Catholic priest has ever been forced to officiate at the marriage of a divorced Catholic, and no Jewish rabbi has ever been forced to officiate at an interfaith marriage. If clergymen are now allowed to refuse to marry people whom their own religion forbids to get married, they certainly will continue to be allewed to do so. We are talking about state recognition of marriages, and we live in a country with Church/State separation.

Another point is that, in a referendum, the California citizenry voted to ban gay marriage. I am sure that in any Southern state (and possibly some Northern ones) the citizenry, if provided with a referendum vote on the subject prior to 1954, would have approved of segregation. But we do not allow the majority to take away the minority's rights. That is a fundamental principle of the American democratic system.

So I cheer the California decision.


Jack Rudd said...

Well said.

As I said in an earlier comment on your blog, same-sex marriage has been on the books in Britain for a while now. Funnily enough, the sky has not fallen.

(Funny thing, the difference between the UK and the USA on issues like this. The UK has a state religion, but acts as if it does not; the USA does not have a state religion, but acts as if it does.)

Opinionator said...

"The UK has a state religion, but acts as if it does not; the USA does not have a state religion, but acts as if it does." That's an interesting comment. I'm not sure I'd agree, but many people in the US do seem to think we have a state religion in the US.