Saturday, September 10, 2005

Column on Arnold v. Gay Marriages

The Gay Marriage Fiasco In California

Tibor R. Machan

I voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger in that special election because I
found the 11th hour attack on him in The Los Angeles Times disgusting and
his political ideas were closer to mine than those of Gray Davis. Now I am
not sure I did the right thing.

OK, I find it annoying that matters like whether gays may marry ever
become part of the public agenda. Frankly, the issue should be totally
privatized?I should have no say in whether someone else gets together with
another person of whatever gender and unites in marriage, barring some
problem for public health. That is a matter of whatever creed they profess
and the practices and rituals of which they choose to follow. I may even
disagree, rather emphatically, with what they call this union. But it
simply isn?t my business and to have ?the public? butt in is very
disturbing. Do they get to butt in on which church other people attend? On
what sports they choose to follow or take part in? And whose art they
admire and support? On whether they believe in Darwin or creationism?
These simply aren?t matters for public policy and neither should it be
whether gay people marry.

Since there is no justification for ?the public? butting in here, the
vote cast in California about gay marriages is entirely beside the
point?as if they had voted on creationism versus Darwinian evolution or on
whether to go to bed at 9 PM or 2 AM. None of their business what I
believe or do, not if it violates no one?s rights. And gays marrying
doesn?t violate anyone?s rights.

So when Governor Schwarzenegger announced that he is going to stand up
for ?the people? of California by vetoing the act making gay marriage
legal, I felt betrayed. I thought this man had some appreciation for human
freedom?after all, he was once closely associated with Professor Milton
Friedman, the leader of the Chicago School of free market economics and a
champion of individual rights. But no. Arnie appears to be playing
politics with this issue, just as he seems to be gravitating toward
playing politics with a number of others these days. I would have hoped he
would simply allow the policy of laissez-faire to go forward, however, it
came about. And that is simply not to bother about gay marriages one way
or another. They aren?t something for others to decide but only for those
who want to enter into the union, even if by some accounts the idea of gay
marriage may be off (although I see no good reason to think it is).

But then politicians have managed to dismay me for decades?the last bona
fide politician I thought may have had an ounce of good sense was Barry
Goldwater but even he betrayed his own principles when it came to bringing
home the bacon for ?the people? of Arizona.

Incidentally, all this stuff about ?the people? just rings so wrong in
the context of the American political tradition. I even squirm recalling
?We the people,? since in fact the Founders didn?t really speak for all
the people, only those who didn?t believe in slavery and did, in fact,
embrace the idea of universal individual rights. But I guess sometimes one
must put a point in ways not literally correct. Yet this ?the people?
stuff is really very risky and tends to give the impression that it
confers justified power on some people over others, so one must be very
careful when using the phrase.

In any case, Governor Schwarzenegger had a chance here to affirm his
libertarian leanings, if he actually ever had any, but missed out on it.
These days I do not believe dickering about legal technicalities is
justified?however some measure of liberty manages to get on the official
books is OK by me since the entire process by now is such a mess, what
with the US Supreme Court having abandoned all semblance of reliance on
principle, letting lower courts and various political bodies lord it over
all kinds of individuals whose rights matter nothing to the justices.
(This goes for Scalia, too, by the way, who professors to be a
?textualist? but then promptly ignores the text of the Ninth Amendment
instead of grappling with it as his oath of office obliges him to do.)

So, Arnie, thanks for nothing. Next time you will not get my vote.

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