Gay marriage is the ultimate demonstration of how government is the worst way of getting almost anything done. The issue should be simplicity itself, since the question is not even “should gays be allowed to marry”, but “should the government recognise gay marriages officially and award them the same rules and exemptions and heterosexual marriages”? This should be simplicity itself, but the more you try to look into it, the more insane things get.
From the point of view of the state, a marriage is simply a contract between two people, and the only legitimate interest the state may take is to enforce the terms of that contract. Even if 100% of gay marriages were self-destructive and end in abject misery (and such is not the case), it would not be the business of the state. So the “small government right” is being full of it on this one.
However, unfortunately, the “big government left” is equally full of it. The democratic left in the first world has for decades considered it fine for the state to tell the citizenry what to do, what to eat, how much they may pay for a service, or ask for payment, where they may or may not work… A recent example comes from the US’s recent healthcare legislation, which includes the following: “The Secretary shall develop oral healthcare components that shall include tooth-level surveillance.” This has conservatives like waxing deeply sarcastic, and one sees the point. If it’s okay for the government to decide that much, why not go the whole hog and allow it to determine whom you may marry?
So both right and left are being full of it. That’s the bad news. Now here’s the worse news. It is by no means certain that supporting gay marriage means defending gay rights in general. I’ll give an example “Red Ken” Livingstone. In his early career he made a considerable career of his defence of gay rights, including gay marriage, and allied with the Rainbow Coalition, and the London Gay Teenage Group. However, recently he has found some new friends, such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi who believes that homosexuals merit death. Is that a simple affectation? No; during his mayoral race against the Tories there was a rather nasty smear campaign suggesting that the Tory party was dominated by sinister jews and homosexuals.
For our transatlantic cousins, don’t think that this is a localised thing. Watching this ludicrous Chick-Fil-A nonsense from across the Atlantic, I learned something interesting. Tom Menino, the mayor of Boston, who thundered against the views of CFA’s president, also oversaw the grant of land valued at $1.8 million to the Islamic Society of Boston on whose board sits – guess who? Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
On the flip side of this, my sources for some of the foregoing are The Daily Mail and National Review. Yes, we have “left-wing” politicians being outflanked on the left by the Mail and NR on the issue of gay rights. I said that this becomes insane.
Do not think that the traditional conservatives do not realize the hand they’ve been dealt. In a conversation between the excellent philosopher Lee Harris and the conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager, the latter said t0 Harris, who is gay, “It’s only those of us who don’t want you to marry who are against you being killed”. The horrible thing is that he may well be right.
Now we have passed a certain point here. To sort out what should be a simple problem, you effectively need to bring sanity to both left and right and completely revolutionise the way both are doing things. The trouble is that, if I had that sort of political capital, I would not spend it on this issue. The denial of gay marriage is unquestionably an injustice, but it is by no stretch of the imagination the worst injustice produced by our various governments today. Compared with the continued tolerance of the slave trade (there are up to 27 million slaves in the world today), the abuse directed towards asylum seekers, the unspeakable failure to enforce the Genocide Convention, or the criminal system of trade barriers that immiserate the world’s poorest while driving our own economies off a cliff (to take just four issues dear to me), the denial of gay marriage simply doesn’t register. So while appreciate my gay comrades’ feelings on the matter, it is simply a matter of priorities.
Except for one thing. If I make the effort, I can just about imagine being against gay marriage on a sort of theoretical level. That is, if the Union asked me to speak in opposition, or I’d just had to listen to Andrew Sullivan, I could imagine putting together a workable argument against it. What I cannot imagine, ever, is expending the amount of time and effort some of these people put into causing trouble for people who have done no harm. I cannot imagine ever thinking “I’ve got a tenner. I could buy a nice bottle of wine – or two – but instead I’m giving it to the National Organization of Marriage“. One should always be able to state the opposition’s case well in a debate, but at a fundamental level this just does not compute.
I know that these days all minorities should be respected, and I’m sure we agree this is a good thing in general, but what we are dealing with here is the one minority that absolutely needs to be oppressed and discriminated against in all times and all places, the one minority that is genuinely responsible for 95%+ of the evils that plague our species: The People With Too Much Time On Their Hands. As Basil Fawlty famously put it, “This is exactly how Nazi Germany started! A bunch of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble!”