Seven years ago today, on May 17, 2004, same-sex couples began marrying in Massachusetts. The onslaught of happy homosexuals has not harmed marriage in that state, which still has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. It has simply made marriage available to more families, a benefit to them and their communities.
Yet the campaign to protect some abstract, fall-from-the-sky, untouched-by-human-hands, changeless thing called “the institution of marriage” grinds on—now in the form of a proposed amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would define it as the union of one man and one woman. The debate in the state senate last week avoided hysterical rhetoric about dirty, subhuman homosexuals poisoning the minds of our children with their evil ways. Absent were the usual arguments about the One Great Purpose of Marriage: responsible procreation. Gone was the familiar but baseless charge that married gay couples would force themselves on helpless God-fearing people and churches. Silent were the protestations that Heather would be taught she could have two mommies. In fact, all of the substantive arguments against same-sex marriage were slighted in favor of process-based concerns that robed tyrants will decide the issue and that the people should get to vote on it.
When a state senator proposed to restrict court power over the issue, amendment supporters said that wasn’t good enough because it wouldn’t let people vote on the definition itself. When the amendment’s sponsor was asked what, precisely, the people would accomplish by voting on the definition, he could not think of anything substantive. In other words, the amendment would protect marriage but not marriages. It was a rare moment of clarity and honesty in the gay-marriage debate. Watch for yourself:
The state senate paid no heed, passing the proposed amendment, 38-27. It now goes to the state house of representatives. If it wins there, it will go to the voters in the November 2012 election where they will be implored, apparently, to achieve nothing.