MT’s ban on gay marriage goes to court

Protestors in Washington DC quote their version of the Constitution.

Protestors in Washington, DC quote their version of the Constitution.

Last week, Montana joined the 29 other states whose laws prohibiting same-sex marriage have been challenged in court. I accidentally typed “same-ex marriage,” which I adamantly oppose for reasons related to reception seating. But gay marriage is fine, and it’s going to happen sooner or later. Even Orrin Hatch admits that, and he’s a stegosaur. But Tim Fox, Republican attorney general for the great state of Montana, wants to defend our constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in court. It’s a losing proposition, and a bunch of people who love each other are going to have to sit on their midcentury modern sofas and wait while we sort it out. Or—and this is crazy, now—Fox could save us all some time and become a hero to boot by declining to defend the ban. That’s what I suggest in my most recent column for the Missoula Independent, although I also make the crucial error of forgetting to specify that I am not gay. Have at it, internet commenters. I should have used the genius hashtag Aaron and I invented last weekend, #YesHomo(NoHomo). Feel free to append that to whatever tweets you twerk on this issue. I’ll search that hashtag at the end of the week and send you all a bill.

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  1. Ugh, I forgot that brackets don’t work. Unread that comment and read this one:

    I enjoyed the following paragraphs, and have generalized them.

    “But what did it do for Americans who weren’t running for office? It’s not as if 2004 was the year we saw [a clear and present need to shift policy] [suggestion that the motive to shift policy is not based in pragmatic considerations]. Article [reference to a law] solved a problem that didn’t exist.

    The idea that [a particular policy] needed [change] was a stalking horse, a safe way to rile up voters with an idea most people agreed on. Depending on which study you read, 90 percent of Americans identify [one way on this issue]. Asking them if they wanted to “protect” their [policy position] was like KISS asking Detroit if it wanted to rock.

    [Some state’s] [particular policy] was democracy at its worst. It invited the majority to assert itself at the expense of a minority, and it did so for no discernible gain. The ugliest thing about the 2004 ballot initiative was that it raised prejudice to the level of law. But the most pathetic thing is that it didn’t work.”

    Now substitute “increased gun control” in there and see if you feel as much enthusiasm to protect minority rights or undermine non-pragmatic policy drivers. Personally, I feel like gun control is the place where the left sees fit to argue for the minority-rights-jeopardizing policy shift and fix a problem that doesn’t exist. I say that as someone who belongs on the left and is pro gun control, but realizes involving state apparatus on that which would not be an issue if I weren’t making it one, is daft. It’s like banning gay marriage, which is the right’s parallel of jeopardizing minority rights by trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

  2. That’s an interesting analogy, and there’s a lot to think about there. But unlike with sexual orientation, gun owners’ membership in a minority is entirely voluntary. You can even argue that their minority position confers on them a power advantage, since they own guns. I submit that gun control is less like gay marriage and more like smoking, in that we’re legislating against a consumer choice rather than an identity.

  3. I used to think it wasn’t an identity, but this hilariously disabused me.

    It is of course, not an inborn difference the way that we view sexual orientation or race, but it’s definitely an identity for both the pro-gun and anti-gun positions.

    You can tell it’s about identity because the pragmatic public policy case is a difficult sell. Pragmatically, guns barely exist. On the chart of what people spend their money on, or die from, or some other public issue, you won’t find it. If you care about deaths you start with heart disease and cars. If you care about the economy you look at public health issues and technology.

    You can tell it’s an identity based on how many people share links about it on Facebook. And you can tell its an identity based on how many people want to pursue it as a policy position even though it’s a complete political loser. You’re not going to ban guns, and whenever you talk about doing so you just rally opposition who also take their time to vote for gay marriage bans and vote for Republicans. You rally them so much they fund the largest non-proft in US history, the NRA, who campaign for not-banning guns even when you’re not trying to ban guns.

    Altogether, it’s ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as cock guns.

  4. What we do know is that married men are the most likely Americans to own guns, so the legalization of gay marriage is probably a NRA strategy to increase gun ownership.

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