The Corner

Reading The Bans

“Commentator J.C. Watts explains why he sides with efforts by Senate

Republican leaders to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gay

marriage.”—NPR

“Aspen should take a formal stand against a constitutional amendment that

would ‘advance discrimination’ by banning same-sex marriages, according to

City Councilwoman Rachel Richards.”—The Aspen Times

“Three gay couples in Tampa and Orlando sued to overturn Florida’s ban on

same-sex marriages Monday.”—The Ledger (Lakeland, FL)

“Amendment backers say the constitutional amendment is needed to make it

more difficult for a court to potentially toss out the state’s existing law

banning gay marriage.”—News-Leader (Springfield, MO)

Excuse me, but it is now routine — even on Fox News Channel, I just

heard — to talk about “banning” homosexual marriages. Isn’t language being

misused here? Can you ban something that has never existed? The way

marriage is currently, and has traditionally, been defined restricts legal

marriage to one man and one woman, both of sound mind, not close blood

relatives, neither currently married to someone else. I suppose you could

say that that “bans” all sorts of unions: mine with my sister, yours with

your town softball league, Jonah’s with Cosmo, and so on. But is it really

proper to speak of these restrictions as “bans”? Who ever thought like this

until about a year ago?

The proposed Federal Marriage Amendment would codify the conventional

definition of marriage (see above). In doing so, I suppose it would “ban”

polygamy. So why is this “the Constitutional amendment to ban gay

marriage,” rather than, say, “the Constitutional amendment to ban polygamy,”

or “the constitutional amendment to ban marriage between human beings and

aardvarks”?

I suppose you might argue that the *intent* of the FMA is to “ban gay

marriage,” even thought that isn’t its wording. Even that is questionable,

though. What supporters of the FMA want is to *maintain* marriage in the

form in which it is currently understood, and to shield it from assaults by

homosexuals, polygamists, incestuous couples, and anyone

else who might seek to change the institution.

That’s not an aggressive state of mind, marching out to “ban” something.

It’s a defensive state of mind, seeking to *preserve* something in its

ancient and traditional form. Conservatives did not seek this fight. It

was brought to us by radicals who want to upturn our customary laws,

understandings, and culture. We are not seeking to change the world by

“banning” something that some people want to do. We are seeking to keep

things as they have always been.

All this use of the word “ban” seems to me highly dishonest.

Most Popular

White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More