Pass me my hip waders, darling

So, I see that the National Review has decided to contribute an editorial to the national discussion about same-sex marriage. It's a shame that they couldn't bother to write something that makes sense, but if wishes were horses... I know that Sully has already taken a whack at it, but I thought it would be fun to have a go myself. Let's start at the stupid beginning (a very sad place to start):
One of the great coups of the movement for same-sex marriage has been to plant the premise that it represents the inevitable future. This sense has inhibited even some who know perfectly well that marriage is by nature the union of a man and a woman. They fear that throwing themselves into the cause of opposing it is futile — worse, that it will call down the judgment of history that they were bigots.
There's a lot of Dumb right there. First of all, I will accept a great many adjectives to describe marriage, as well as their attendant arguments. For example: religious, cultural, legal, civil, historical and expensive. What I will not accept is any argument that it is natural. (Anyone who says otherwise should be locked inside a "David's Bridal" until he comes to his senses.) Nowhere in nature does there exist anything that begins to resemble marriage. Some animals mate for life, some mate with a whole host of their species; some never meet their mates, and some make a nice post-coital snack of them. None register for china patterns, or divvy up major holidays between their respective families.

Further, the second sentence contradicts the third. If same-sex marriage is perfectly refuted by nature, why should its opponents fear that history will contradict this sensibility? Surely, if nature speaks so clearly, history will vindicate their opposition. Or perhaps there is the sneaking suspicion that their footing is not so solid, and will be seen as such over time?

Nate Silver has already disputed the editorial's problem with numbers in the next paragraph, so I will skip ahead.
Our guess is that if the federal judiciary does not intervene to impose same-sex marriage on the entire country, we are not going to see it triumph from coast to coast. Rather, we will for some time have a patchwork of laws. The division will not be so much between socially liberal and conservative states as between those states where voters can amend their state constitutions easily and those where they cannot. Thus same-sex marriage is likely to stay the law of the land in Massachusetts, Iowa, and Vermont, and perhaps also in New Hampshire.

In two of those states, at least, democratic procedure is now being respected. Vermont has chosen to recognize same-sex marriages legislatively, and New Hampshire may do so. Other states, such as Connecticut, have legislated recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples. While free from the taint of lawlessness, these decisions seem to us unwise.
Let us pause there and ponder their use of that word -- lawlessness. It conjures such a lively mental image of Butch and Sundance shooting their way into the county courthouse and demanding to be legally wed by a trembling civil servant before busting out and honeymooning in Mexico. Leaving such idylls aside, let us instead note the profound absurdity of describing judges going about their business of interpreting the laws of their respective states as somehow "lawless."

Seriously, dudes. That's just silly.

Moving on:
Few social goods will come from recognizing same-sex couples as married. Some practical benefits may accrue to the couples, but most of them could easily be realized without changing marriage laws. Same-sex couples will also receive the symbolic affirmation of being treated by the state as equivalent to a traditional married couple — but this spurious equality is a cost of the new laws, not a benefit. One still sometimes hears people make the allegedly “conservative” case for same-sex marriage that it will reduce promiscuity and encourage commitment among homosexuals. This prospect seems improbable, and in any case these do not strike us as important governmental goals.
I am wearied by how much there is to unpack here. I suppose few social goods will come from recognizing same-sex couples as married if you don't consider the benefits to the couples themselves. If one actually considers gays and lesbians to be worthy of protection under the law, then the benefits are obvious. The editors go on to say that the symbolic affirmation of same-sex couples would be a "cost," but they don't explain what that means, other than to unsubtly imply that they simply don't like the couples in question and don't care to see them affirmed in any way. Their inherent anti-gay bias is yet more evident in that sneering last sentence, to which I have nothing much to say as my mind is too clouded with thoughts of indiscriminate National Review ass-kicking.

Both as a social institution and as a public policy, marriage exists to foster connections between heterosexual sex and the rearing of children within stable households. It is a non-coercive way to channel (heterosexual) desire into civilized patterns of living. State recognition of the marital relationship does not imply devaluation of any other type of relationship, whether friendship or brotherhood. State recognition of those other types of relationships is unnecessary. So too is the governmental recognition of same-sex sexual relationships, committed or otherwise, in a deep sense pointless.
What's with that parenthetical notation, guys? If marriage succeeds in non-coercively channeling heterosexual desire into "civilized patterns of living," why (pray?) is it "improbable" that it would have a similar effect on homosexuals? Are you hets just more malleable?

And are you editors really too stupid to note the difference between friendship, brotherhood and a life-time commitment to love and honor one's spouse, and all it involves? Friends and brothers rarely share homes, lives, incomes, property, the raising of children, etc. Spouses do. The former need no governmental protection because there is little that tangibly needs protecting. Not so with gay and lesbian couples. The comparison is obtuse.

This post is already plenty long, and their conclusion is just an empty canard about child-rearing and the nebulous future. Read the whole thing, if you care to. If this is the intellectual depth of the opposition to gay marriage, a concatenation of biases and elisions, then gay marriage has less to fear than I thought.

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