Michael – Frankly I don’t know if marriage is a constitutional right as we currently define such things. I certainly agree with you that the plain meaning of the Constitution is silent on the question. But at the same time I sincerely doubt many heterosexual readers would feel that their basic rights were being infringed upon if the state told them they couldn’t marry the woman or man of their choosing.
I certainly agree, and have argued many times, that something can not only be wrong and immoral but it can be fully criminal without being unconstitutional. My problem with Rhea County policy is not so much their desire to ban civil unions or marriages but with the stated view that gays can be legally banned from living in the town. I sincerely doubt that there are a lot of gays who want to live there. But I think Sullivan is right to be offended by such a law. Whether Sullivan’s comparsion to a similar law banning Jews holds water or not is a subject for another time. But even if the comparison is unpersuasive (religion is protected in the Constitution after all) that doesn’t mean I don’t think the basic point has merit. Banning gays is different than refusing to recognize gay marriage.