Harold Meyerson’s column is always refreshing because it distills so perfectly what “progressives” say to each other when they don’t have the benefit of anybody in the room who thinks differently than them. Today’s is particularly revealing. But I’ll focus on just one point.
He says that the FMA would create a permanent “secondary caste” within the constitution: “Not untouchables, certainly; we’re beyond that. Just unmarriageables. ” He continues: That’s a tricky distinction, though, and it’s one that Bush and all but the most benighted opponents of gay marriage have to make all the time.”
Um, how is this is a tricky distinction? Who’s saying that gays should be denied schooling and forced to clean our sewers like untouchables are? Not even the most “benighted” opponents of gay marriage are saying anything like that. Mr. Meyerson, this may be a “tricky” distinction for you, but it isn’t for most people.
Moreover, I’ll point out that there’s already a “secondary caste” enshrined in the constitution: Young people. The constitution sets all sorts of rules based on age, including barring young people from voting and serving in public office — again not something anyone advocates for gays. Indeed, young people, variously defined, are barred by various laws from getting married, serving in the military, driving cars, etc. The age barrier is inherently arbitrary too (arbitrariness being another Meyerson bugaboo). After all, I’ve met fifteen-year-olds far more qualified to vote or marry than many thirty year olds. But we all see the social utility of this arbitrariness and so it stands. Meyerson & Co. no longer see the utility of the “arbitrary” man-woman definition of marriage. Fine, but that doesn’t suddenly make everyone who still sees that utility a bigot.
And that’s the point: whether you think it’s good policy or not, opponents of gay marriage do not buy the assumptions of people like Meyerson. He may see a whole class of people dispatched to second class status, but that’s because “progressives” instintually like to see such distinctions even when they’re not there. Only minds which could seriously worry about the “digital divide,” for example, could come up with this untouchables analogy. Again, regardless of whether it is good policy, an amendment would permit single men — gay or straight — to marry single women — gay or straight — and vice versa. That may be wrong, but let’s not get hysterical about it.