Sometime this week (or was it last?), I sorted through the clutter of notes on my desk and made a list of posts I’d like to write on marriage. With yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision, the clutter has grown as I’ve been scribbling down myriad ideas for new posts to add to that list.
As soon as today, I hope to start fleshing out the ideas on that list and posting here on marriage. I do hope to promote a conversation more serious than we have generally seen on both sides of the issue where proponents of gay marriage accuse their adversaries of wanting to write “bigotry and hatred . . . into the California Constitution” and proponents of the traditional marriage accuse their adversaries of wanting to destroy the institution.
Let us hope (I fear this is a vain hope) that those coming forward to debate the issue are like Jonathan Rauch (for gay marriage) and David Blankenhorn (for the traditional definition), individuals who value the importance of the institution and understand (and oftentimes even respect) their ideological adversaries.
I hope to contribute to the debate in the manner that these two individuals have. Yesterday, I didn’t like having to write my Pajamas piece in haste because I wanted to take the time to think seriously about the issue.
Sometimes when we blog, we rush to get an idea out there because the nature of this medium is such that we need get these ideas out there as quickly as possible. People want to hear our ideas right away! But, with a potential social change of this magnitude, we need a more prolonged conversation.
For example, yesterday, in order to get my post done, I could only read the first 20 or so pages of the court decision carefully (and the majority opinion is very poorly written). I had to skim the rest, relying on word searches to see how the court fleshed out certain ideas expressed early in the opinion. In the world of the old media, I would have had time to read the whole opinion before getting my piece to press. (But, then in the world of the old media, the opinion would not have been readily available here in LA and I may not have had the forum I do.)
Given the haste with which I wrote, I am flattered by the praise I have received from most of the readers who e-mailed me about it (as well as a good number of commenters). Your words mean more to me than you know (an issue which you may better understand if I go ahead with the next post I have planned).
While I am satisfied with my Pajamas piece, believing it gets at the basic points I feel need be addressed, there is more, much more, that I have to say on this issue. I really want to get at the majority’s obsession with this notion of dignity which I can’t find in the state constitution and which even one of my critics (on this issue) faulted, saying the “judges should stick with the law and leave the social commentary in their memoirs.”
That said, to repeat a point I made in a previous post, we, as a society, need to have a serious conversation on marriage, particularly those of us in the Golden State. I hope this blog serves as a forum to further that exchange.
UPDATE: Just after posting this, a reader e-mailed me Debra J. Saunders Townhall column where she offers viewpoint near identical to my own. Like me, she voted against Prop 22 in 2000 and is “ambivalent” about the issue. As to a point in the post about the haste with which I wrote. I didn’t have time yesterday to get to the dissents as did she. Had I, I would surely have noticed the passages which stood out to her:
But I have to agree with Justice Marvin Baxter’s dissenting opinion that the court “does not have the right to erase, then recast, the age-old definition of marriage, as virtually all societies have understood it, in order to satisfy its own contemporary notions of equality and justice.”
What next? Baxter wondered if in the future an “activist” court might look at this opinion and “conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified.”
Baxter stipulated, “In no way do I equate same-sex unions with incestuous and polygamous relationships as a matter of social policy or social acceptance.”