Vice President Joe Biden sallied forth onto NBC’s Meet the Press this weekend, to give his embattled running mate a fresh migraine:
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” said Biden. “And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.”
Biden gets a lot of grief for saying colossally stupid things, but this is a very perceptive statement. If you really don’t see “much of a distinction” between men marrying women, and anybody marrying anybody else, then there’s no reason to arbitrarily deny marriage to two men, three men, one man and six women, or any other group that wishes to express its commitment in a legal and ceremonial manner.
If, on the other hand, you do believe there is something special and unique about men and women becoming husband and wife, there is no need to harbor sinister motives in order to support the traditional definition of marriage. It is possible to make a reasoned argument for the traditional definition of marriage without denigrating gay couples, or for that matter people who choose to remain single. “Distinction” is not the same thing as “hatred.”
A great deal of history, common sense, and sociological data must be ignored in order to believe there is no “distinction” whatsoever between traditional marriage and “alternative” arrangements. The vitality of a vast population requires a very large number of people to raise more than two children in stable home environments. No arrangement besides traditional marriage has proven itself able to accomplish this on a massive scale. Perhaps Vice President Biden would care to divulge the reams of information he has carefully studied to reach his conclusion that traditional marriage has no “distinctive” qualities.
The first part of Biden’s statement is the sort of false equivalence the gay marriage debate has long been suffused with. Traditional marriage does not violate anyone’s civil rights. It is possible to address specific legal issues surrounding same-sex unions without re-defining marriage. The manner in which the government allocates benefits to married couples is a separate issue from the nature of marriage itself, and can be debated independently.
As things stand, our titanic government discriminates against numerous groups and individuals in countless different ways, in the name of “social benefits” far less concrete than the enormous advantages married couples convey to their children. If all of those discriminatory government policies violate the “civil rights” of people who will not, or cannot, do what is necessary to gain the government’s favor, Biden’s gay-marriage logic would burn Washington to the ground.
That will never happen, because Big Government is very good at reconciling logical inconsistencies, twisting language itself when needed. The same people who most urgently demand “fairness” are fanatical supporters of a tax code based entirely on treating people unfairly, after all. They view “civil rights” as something that only exists where massive amounts of government power are needed to secure them.
On the other hand, traditional marriage is a clear and present danger to the growth of the State. It’s no coincidence that massive welfare-state growth accompanied the weakening of marriage. As can be seen from the recent “Life of Julia” flap, single women are a valuable Big Government constituency, but married women are more likely to vote conservative. That’s why the Obama campaign produced a bizarre, Orwellian cartoon about lifelong dependency, starring an imaginary single woman who “decides” to have a baby, with no mention whatsoever of the father… and cannot even start her own business without massive assistance from her devoted sugar daddy, Barack Obama. “The Life of Julia” looks like a dystopian nightmare filled with laughably hollow promises and absurd delusions to everyone except its target audience.
Biden’s comments were refreshing in their candor, which makes them a big political problem for a President who has been anything but candid on the issue of gay marriage. Technically, Barack Obama is the most powerful opponent of gay marriage in the world, having opposed it during the 2008 campaign. Of course, everyone knows Obama’s words are meaningless. His current official stance on gay marriage is listed as “evolving.” The same President who declared the Supreme Court has no power to overturn ObamaCare, because it passed the House with a razor-thin vote, claimed extra-constitutional powers to functionally destroy the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress under President Bill Clinton with vastly greater margins of victory.
Obama clearly doesn’t want his “evolution” away from traditional marriage to be completed before the elections in November… which is curious, given how often we see polls showing majority public support for gay marriage. You’d think an incumbent President scared to death of discussing his record in office would grab for issues like that.
Perhaps Obama has his political eye fixed on what happens when the people get a chance to actually vote on marriage issues. Gay marriage has enjoyed some successes, but its advance seems to have stalled out, with only a handful of states willing to vote for what judges must elsewhere impose by fiat. There is a lot of cultural momentum toward gay marriage, but political momentum seems to be lagging more than a little behind.
Is this merely the inertia of tradition, which might be conclusively dispelled in a few more years? Perhaps… or maybe it comes from an active and reasoned appreciation for the value of traditional marriage, along with an understanding of how much else we must jettison, in order to do away with it completely.
Most Americans are admirably willing to embrace the first part of Biden’s formulation, and reject the oppression and mistreatment of gay people. They’re proving unexpectedly resistant to accepting the conclusion that traditional marriage constitutes such oppression. Maybe they’re repelled by the unmistakable zeal of those who preach “tolerance” to display absolute intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them, to such an extent that no honorable motive for opposition can be acknowledged.
“The good news is that as more and more Americans become to understand what this is all about is a simple proposition,” the Vice President said on Meet the Press. “Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that’s what people are finding out is what – what all marriages, at their root, are about.”
That is not the full extent of what marriage is about. Everyone reading this has feelings of deep love and loyalty toward people they would never consider marrying. Biden’s simplistic formulation reads like a poster in the window of a tattoo parlor, offering buy-one-get-one-free specials for sweethearts to get each others’ names inked onto their shoulders. Marriage has always been deeper and stronger than the superficial caricature bandied about by its adversaries, who should start working on some arguments that don’t assume everyone who disagrees with them is a bitter enemy of love.