Monday, July 12, 2004

Texas Senator John Cornyn on the Marriage Amendment

Is this right wing paranoia, or did the Supreme Court really do something good.

In his article supporting the anti-same-sex marriage amendment Texas Senator Cornyn refers to the recent Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision in which Texas' anti-sodomy laws were struck down. Cornyn says,
"In Lawrence, the Court explicitly and unequivocally listed 'marriage' as one of the 'constitutional' rights that, absent a constitutional amendment, must be granted to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples alike. Specifically, the Court stated that 'our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education.... Persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do' (emphasis added). The Lawrence majority thus adopted the view endorsed decades ago by one of its members -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. While serving as general counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, she wrote that traditional marriage laws, such as anti-bigamy laws, are unconstitutional and must be struck down by courts."
If Cornyn's is a fair reading of the Lawrence decision, I can understand how the right might be concerned. Did a majority of the Supreme Court really agree with Ginsburg that same-sex marriage is a right guaranteed by the constitution? (Did Ginsburg even express that opinion? I don't know. But Cornyn seems to think so.)

When Cornyn says
"[A]ctivist courts have so dramatically altered the meaning of the Constitution, that traditional marriage laws are now under serious threat of being invalidated by judicial fiat nationwide — indeed, the process has already begun in numerous states across the country."
is he including a majority of our current the Supreme Court among those activist judges? And if the process is so widespread, can he really argue that it is just a few judges. According to Cornyn it is a virtually unstoppable nationwide trend. Most of the article urged the passage of the amendment as a way to stop that trend.

Did Cornyn have any arguments about why an anti-same-sex amendment would be good social policy? The only argument I could find was this. When attempting to rebut the argument that the marriage amendment would roll back rights and institutionalize discrimination he said,
"Marriage is not about discrimination — it is about children."
I doubt that Cornyn means to restrict the possibility of marriage to parents. But it wasn't clear what he meant -- and he didn't bother to say. The problem is that so many of those opposed to same-sex marriage get so upset that they can't think straight.

I don't doubt that the anti-same-sex marriage people they are truly upset. Like the fall of legally mandated discrimination, such a change requires a significant modification of their view of the world. But I wish they would stand back from themselves just a bit and try to understand what is really bothering them.

Laura Bush is quoted as saying about her husband, "George is not an overly introspective person." My guess is that Cornyn is not either. When someone is as upset as Cornyn, introspection can be very valuable. I wish he would try it.

I'm not sure why I've been spending so much time and space blogging on this issue. I'm not gay, and I don't care about marriage. My girlfriend and I are registered as domestic partners, a California formalism that grants to those so registered the same rights and responsibilities as marriage as far as the State is concerned. (It doesn't apply at the Federal level.)

One of my primary values is intellectual honesty. The opposition to same-sex marriage is so intellectually dishonest that I find it difficult to resist speaking up.

See Bush and the "sanctity of marriage", Orrin G. Hatch on The Federal Marriage Amendment, Senator Sam Brownback on Marriage, and President Defends the Sanctity of Marriage for earlier posts on this subject.

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