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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Wednesday, November 19, 2003  


The ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on same-sex "marriage" is a bad one on so many fronts, not only overturning by judicial fiat millions of years of biology, thousands of years of social custom, and plain common sense in undermining an institution at the foundation of family and society, but making law ridiculous: The SJC's saying two guys are "married" doesn't make them married, any more than a 4-3 ruling by the state high court means that henceforth men may have babies if they want to, or the sun in Massachusetts will rise from the west. And where does it stop? As Boston talk show host Jay Severin said, a man and his penguin may be a couple, but theirs will never be a marriage.

A state constitutional amendment apparently will be required to define marriage in Massachusetts as between a man and a woman. But an amendment can't go to the ballot before 2006, so it appears same-sex "marriage" will be law here for at least the coming two years.

The Corner's Robert Alt writes:

It appears that the Massachusetts legislature has less options than I had thought. When I first mentioned the possibility of amending the Massachusetts Constitution within 180 days, I must concede that I thought it implausible. After reading up on the method for constitutional amendment in Massachusetts, such an option appears impossible. To amend the Massachusetts Constitution requires 25% of the state legislature in two consecutive two-year sessions to vote to present the question to the people for a vote. Thus, any amendment started by the legislature could not succeed until 2006, and obviously could not meet the 180 day "deadline."

Another suggestion that I have heard bandied about is offering some kind of a Vermont-style civil union substitute. Given the sweeping language of today's court decision, it is dubious at best whether such an option is still viable. While the legislature could offer it, the court is likely to simply enter its order in 180 days, and thereby alter the state's definition of marriage. For gay marriage proponents, why have civil unions, when the court has already granted them equal access to the civil institution of marriage?

A state Constitutional Convention on the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment (H3190), which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is scheduled for Feb. 11, 2004. The Massachusetts Family Institute is campaigning in defense of the institution of marriage as traditionally understood. American Spectator columnist Lawrence Henry of North Andover, Mass., reports on the group's efforts.

While the SJC ruling has much of the Globe turning handstands, the paper's lone conservative voice, Jeff Jacoby, wrote this week on the timeless meaning of marriage.

Apropos of the latest effort to dismantle society and define what is as you wish it to be: an essay on Agatha Christie as Burkean.

Her work conforms to Burkean conservatism in every respect: justice rarely comes from the state. Rather, it arises from within civil society - a private detective, a clever old spinster. Indeed, what is Miss Marple but the perfect embodiment of Burke's thought? She has almost infinite wisdom because she has lived so very long (by the later novels, she is barely able to move and, by some calculations, over 100). She has slowly - like parliament and all traditional bodies, according to Burke - accrued "the wisdom of the ages", and this is the key to her success. From her solitary spot in a small English village, she has learned everything about human nature. Wisdom resides, in Christie and Burke's worlds, in the very old and the very ordinary.

The novels are shot through with a Burkean fear of enlightenment rationalism. There is a persistent fear of the young and those with grand Archimedean social projects. Christie's greatest anxiety, she once explained, was of "idealists who want to make us happy by force." The minute a character is described as an idealist in one of her novels, you've found your murderer...

Her protagonists stand, novel after novel, against those who seek to disrupt the natural order and interpret the world with a misleading 'rationalism'. As one of her heroes explains, "We're humble-minded men. We don't expect to save the world, only pick up one or two broken pieces and remove a spanner or two when it's jamming up the works." Or, as another heroine asks, "Isn't muddle a better breeding ground for kindliness and individuality than a world order that's imposed?"
(Via the Invisible Adjunct)

Where is the consensus for the profound social realignment that is to be imposed by the un-elected justices of Massachusetts' high court? A Pew poll released just before the SJC ruling found opposition to same-sex marriage at 59 percent, and among religious Americans, at 80 percent.

More from the Pew survey, via The Corner:

The political importance of gay marriage has yet to become clear. But there is evidence that this issue could become problematic for the Democratic presidential nominee. Republican voters are largely of one mind on this issue: more than three-quarters (78%) of voters who favor reelecting President Bush in 2004 oppose gay marriage. But voters who prefer to see a Democrat elected in 2004 are divided - 46% favor gay marriage, 48% oppose.

And this from the American Spectator's Henry on the "Ick Factor:"

Democratic candidates from President on down will be whipped into making all kinds of statements in support of gay marriage, into making appearances at gay activist rallies, into endorsing the nationwide honoring of gay marriage reciprocally from state to state. If
Republicans are smart, they'll follow President Bush's lead, and mostly just say nothing while the Dems kick the Tar Baby.

And the American people, bombarded from the airwaves, will recoil in their Barcaloungers and change the channel, saying, "Ick! Go 'way! Just shut up about it, already!"

A factoid from Boston.com: The 2000 Census estimated there were about 19,000 gay couples in Mass., and about 659,000 nationwide, or less than 1 percent of households. Provincetown is the community in Mass. with the highest rate of gay partners, about 15
percent of households.

Minority rights are to be respected and protected in our republic. But when in our democracy did the least common denominator come to trump the majority? Why should less than one percent of households be enabled to redefine - and render meaningless - the institution of marriage as it has been understood in our society from time immemorial?


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