On every first date, I try to let the conversation flow naturally so each of us can get to know the other as he is, instead of matching ourselves us to some ideal image of the perfect mate, I do try to get two things across, the first about my politics because I know that’s a deal-breaker for some gay leftists and the second about monogamy because his eagerness for an open relationship would be a deal-breaker for me.
The question always arises that, once you start dating, when does the monogamy attach? Obviously it hasn’t yet attached to the (first) date I had this weekend where I did broach the monogamy issue (but not the political one). So, I assume it attaches when we define ourselves as boyfriends, agreeing to be faithful to one another.
Some wait until they have had a ceremony, but the point is that there is a clear, definable moment when monogamy attaches. And that leads to the question, when does it “detach.” And that’s not always so clear. If two parties plan on divorcing, need they wait until the divorce goes through? Or can they start seeing other people once they make their intentions clear? And say a married couple separates, should each partner then remain celibate?
It would seem that in some such cases, celibacy would be unwarranted. And that makes Senator Ensign’s affair a bit less problematic, but it doesn’t excuse Mark Sanford. While the South Carolina Governor has been separated from his wife for “about two weeks,” all evidence indicates the affair had begun long before that separation. Ensign, by contrast, was separated from his wife while sleeping with a campaign aide and ended the affair when he reconciled with his wife. Even so, his lady friend was married at the time, so while his marital vows may been on hiatus, hers were not. It was definitely adultery.
Despite this wrong, there is no evidence the Nevada Senator abused hs position as a public official. Sanford, however, appears to have used state resources to fund his tryst. So, I’m with John Podhoretz on this one, he really has “no choice but to resign.”
But, this all leads me to wonder if the media would give the Nevada Republican a pass if he had had different partisan affiliation?
UPDATE: Glenn links a great article this morning on Reason where Steve Chapman offers some thoughts on adultery which pretty much parallel my own. He does not, however, address the separation “conundrum.” Since Sanford was not separated at the time his affair began, he was clearly violating his marital vows. Chapman pretty much echoes my views, holding “Sex without marriage is OK. Sex in violation of marriage is not“:
Why not? Because adultery, unlike a frisky bachelor lifestyle, connotes a reckless dishonesty at odds with our basic notions of integrity. Because it shows a lack of respect for the most important commitment that most of us will ever make. Because it indicates that the adulterer will always place his selfish desires above those who depend on him. . . .
Is it naive of us to believe that a politician who keeps his commitments to his wife will also keep his commitments to us? Probably. But not as naive as thinking that if he betrays her, he’ll treat us any better.