Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Really Not That Hard to Understand

Here we have something that's making the rounds... CNN's Dana Bash questioning Senator Rand Paul on the subject of same-sex marriage. Now, he does accurately state his position... however, one thing this interview and the commentary about it has shown is the lengths to which people are willing to mis-interpret it. Here's one. Here's another.

It is certainly the case that people hear what they want to hear, and let's acknowledge that it's a little difficult to get a point across in responses that are edited by those who are asking the loaded questions. Since Bash is asking him "as a libertarian" I, as a libertarian, am going to take an unsolicited stab at the issue. For many of you it's tl;dr. If you can't at least give time to the issue, you're one of the folks we can conveniently label "the Problem".

Bash asks, “Why do you believe – just as a core principle as a libertarian – that people should be left alone, but not when it comes to their right to marry someone they love?”

This is a loaded question, and inaccurate. All people have the right to be left alone. That is, in fact, what Paul's trying to communicate here. But "leaving you alone" does not necessitate anyone's agreement or endorsement of whatever it is you're doing, marriage or otherwise. In 1906, Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote a biography called "The Friends of Voltaire", in which she offers this as an illustration of his beliefs,
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
Since so few people seem to be able to comprehend the English of a mere hundred years past, let's paraphrase that:
"I may not agree with who you want to marry, but I'll defend your right to marry who you want."
That's the libertarian position. Defending someone's rights despite your own disagreement is called "tolerance". Insisting that someone must agree with you heart and soul is not; and there's no small irony in demanding acceptance from those you repay with intolerance of your own.

What isn't appreciated in punditry is the fact that Paul can't deliver tolerance without being elected; and his position (as you can see) isn't popular with either party, though it does resonate with Americans who don't just think whatever they're told.

"He's on our side? Ignore it and attack anyway."
In politics, people don't matter, only Party.

So why is this a state issue?

Because it IS. You may have forgotten as so many do that the first clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution not only asserts that the government cannot establish a religion (this is the only part that the Left ever reads); and it not only asserts that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise thereof (this is the only part that the Right ever reads): it also states that Congress may make "NO LAW" regarding either. "No law" isn't really open to "interpretation"... merely misinterpretive bullying. It literally means "no law".

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments assert that we have rights that are not enumerated in the Constitution; and that any power not delegated to the United States by the Constitution are reserved to the States, and to the People.

Now, to the extent that marriage is a religious rite... and you have to be both barking mad and historically illiterate to assert that it isn't... it has no place in Federal legislation. Such laws are, in fact, prohibited by the First Amendment, although the remedial readers in Congress and even some judges haven't comprehended the phrase.

It is, in short, a State issue. Senator Paul is just stating the truth, and if you wanted to make it different, then you'd have to carve out some new Amendment.

The fact that we've had Democrats and Republicans offering and passing laws left and right about religion for as long as we've had Democrats and Republicans is beside the point. Just because they've pushed idiocy for a hundred years doesn't mean you have an obligation to continue the trend. And just because they pass a law doesn't make it final... not until it's been tested in Court.

So what does it really mean to be "a State matter"? Well, in times gone by it would mean that the States could pass laws individually, and that you'd wind up with a big mish-mash. They still try that. It doesn't work. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States," and as a result those rights that are asserted in the Constitution are binding everywhere. And sure enough, the Supreme Court knocks down a shit-tonne of laws for just this reason. The practical result is that "no law" at the Federal level means that these rights are retained by the People. That is, you have a right that cannot be abridged.

We don't need more laws. We just need to follow the Constitution into that dark place in your psyche you don't want to go, where dragons roam free... and so does everyone else.

What about that wording?

To the extent that marriage a social contract it might be subject to legislation... but the fact is that the word "marriage" has been so intertwined with religious sacrament for so many thousands of years that it makes more sense for the Government to keep their stupid ham fists out of it entirely. This is, after all, the same government that would look down on a "moment of silence" in school lest it be used for (*gasp!*) voluntary prayer. "Marriage" is far more intertwined with religion than a moment of silence. And the Left, who have no problem at all passing laws prohibiting free exercise don't know how to react when the free exercise that's being prohibited is their own.

Instead, they viciously bite when Libertarians offer a supremely rational solution.

The solution is not to prohibit it, because that's discriminatory. And it's not to define it, either, because that's inherently exclusionary. The solution is to do exactly what the Constitution says to do and MAKE NO LAW. Then people can live with whoever they want to live; they can enter contracts with whoever they want; they can assign whoever they please to be their "next of kin" for whatever reason they'd like; and they can call it whatever they want to call it, whether it was announced in a church or not. Remove marriage from the law for everybody, and leave the contract for everybody.

So how does this compare with what Rand Paul has said?
In April 2013, in an interview with the National Review, he said, "I'm an old-fashioned traditionalist. I believe in the historic and religious definition of marriage," and "That being said, I'm not for eliminating contracts between adults. I think there are ways to make the tax code more neutral, so it doesn't mention marriage. Then we don't have to redefine what marriage is; we just don't have marriage in the tax code." -via Wikipedia
Yup. I'd get married in a church m'self; but y'all do what you want.

And for those among us who have long wondered at the inherent unfairness of the tax code when it comes to single individuals, this makes even more sense. A revised tax code would treat people as individuals, with their burden measured by their dependents rather than some embattled legal status.

Me, personally....

I don't care. Really. I don't give an ounce of concern over whether you're married, or who you're married to, or what it's called. I give even less thought to what people call my marriage, or whether they call it anything or nothing. If you tell me you're married to a water buffalo, I won't ask you what sex it is. I might think you're a loon, but I probably think that already for a lot of other reasons. If you're a man telling me you're married to a man I will receive the news with the same degree of casual "so what" that I have always seen in the eyes of pretty much everyone when I mention that I have a wife.

I do care about the fact that people are excluded from certain situations that they'd otherwise be allowed were it not for arbitrary laws that should not exist. It's not just taxes. That's why the contract should remain. If I want to empower someone to make decisions for me, for whatever reason I want (and I don't even have to state those reasons), I can already do that with a Power of Attorney and a Living Will and a half-dozen other documents. But it's expensive and inconvenient and requires constant explanation. There's a sense of "vere are your papers, Juden?" But a marriage license conveniently wraps all of those into one document that's pretty universally recognized. Even today, intertwined as it is with sacrament, "marriage" is afforded to atheists and every religion. In the sight of God you need no one but each other to marry you. but legally, you're married when you sign the document, not when you say your vows. The legal aspect does nothing to add or take away from those vows, no matter what they were called.

In fact, the term "marriage license" implies that the government is granting you permission to get married; something that should be offensive to Christians on grounds of piety in that no government has that authority. It is contrary to our natural rights.

If the union described by that piece of paper were suddenly to be called a "civil union" in the courts while I continue to call it "marriage" everywhere else, then I can see no possible way in which it would affect the reality of my marriage.

But then, those who argue at cross-purposes aren't terribly concerned with reality.

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