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.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Supreme Court's decision on Obergefell

Immediately after the Supreme Court's ruling on King v. Burwell, which I had to grudgingly admit has to be accepted because the Court is the final arbiter, has come another ruling about which I am much happier. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has written the decision, as he has in just about every decision affecting gay rights. And as one would expect of a Kennedy decision, it was forthrightly in defense of gay couples' rights:


No longer may this liberty be denied. No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.

Both this decision and the previous one in King v. Burwell, of course, can be considered “liberal,” which clearly shows why I cannot really consider myself to be either “conservative” or “liberal.” I see the King decision as misguided, while the Obergefell decision as a positive step forward in granting rights to an often-denigrated group of people. So my reaction to these two “liberal” decisions is quite different.

I would like to say two things to people opposing this decision:

First of all, this decision does not — as many opponents claim — “redefine marriage.” Marriage is still the union of two people who love each other into a household. All that changed is that couples who were denied that right now have it. It no more changes the institution of marriage than extending the right to vote to 18-year-olds (when the minimum age had traditionally been 21) redefined the act of voting, and I see no difference between these as a simple extension of rights to those who did not previously have them.

And second, this decision does not infringe on anyone's religious freedom. A Catholic priest has not ever been required to officiate at the wedding of a divorced person, counter to his religion, nor has a Jewish rabbi ever been required to officiate at an interfaith wedding, and nobody will require either to perform a same-sex wedding if he believes his religion does not permit it. (Many rabbis, of course, do perform same-sex weddings, as well as interfaith ones; Jewish positions on both of these vary. But those who will not, may continue to refuse.) As to bakers, florists, etc., I wonder how many of them insist even now that the people to whom they provide services be legitimately married. Do they check the marriage licenses of the couples? If anyone wanted to order a wedding cake from a baker, would the baker refuse to provide one if the customer is not really getting married? I doubt it. The baker who opposes gay marriage on religious grounds is not facilitating the wedding of which he disapproves; he is just baking a cake in a design which is regular for wedding cakes and selling it to a couple of people that he doesn't consider should be married. I doubt that he would even check if a couple that happens to be too closely related, in violation of the Bible, ordered a wedding cake, or even if a man and woman who really do not seriously intend to marry do so.

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