The Corner

Jonah’s Wrong

I know he’s traveling, and won’t have the

opportunity to respond till later, but I wanted to say before it slipped my

mind that I think Jonah’s wrong to come out against the Federal Marriage

Amendment

. He thinks it’s wrong for a couple of reasons. One, he believes that

federalism should be allowed to work here, giving states the right to

experiment. The problem is, as one of his correspondents put it, gay

marriage quickly becomes a federal issue when a gay couple married in

Massachusetts moves to Texas, where they’re treated as unmarried. Then it

goes to the federal courts and probably to SCOTUS, where (as Novak says) the

court that gave us Lawrence will be inclined to give us gay marriage,

nationalized. Secondly, Jonah compares the FMA’s unworkability to the

amendment banning alcohol, on the idea that you can’t mandate by law what

most people don’t want by custom. The general point may be correct, but the

analogy to Prohibition breaks down here: Prohibition would have worked if

government had been able to maintain an absolute monopoly over the

production of alcohol. That was not, and is not possible, ergo moonshiners,

speakeasies, etc. But government does have an absolute monopoly over the

production of marriages. If they were prohibited by Constitutional

amendment, there would be no such thing as marriage speakeasies, because

marriage in any socially meaningful context cannot exist independently of

governmental sanction.

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