A License to Love

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.

– Thomas Pynchon

A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.

– Ezra Pound

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision declaring that the right of gays and lesbians to marry is mandated by the Constitution, has brought responses that reflect how conditioned most people’s minds are to the practice of state-contrived conflicts. The power of the state depends upon conflicts and, therefore, state officials endeavor to create bogeymen, wars, and other fear-objects with which to mesmerize the Boobeoisie into a groveling submission to A Libertarian Critique... Butler Shaffer Buy New $5.50 (as of 03:05 UTC - Details) political authority. Mainstream media thrives on such dynamics; the anchors at CNN and Fox News would be reduced to presenting dog-food commercials if the fomenting and management of conflicts were not the central part of their job-descriptions. You need only think back to the first few days of July to find confirmation of this: “news” shows that were dominated by admittedly groundless fears that hobgoblins, “terrorists,” and other imagined specters would attack July 4th celebrations nationwide.

I have a difficult time grasping the thinking of anyone who believes that his or her relationships with others should be subject to the approval of the state. The idea that state officials should endorse one’s choice of a marriage partner recalls the earlier practice of a young man asking a father for the “hand” of a young woman. That practice seemed to die off a good half-century ago, when it became evident that the ritual was premised on the father having a property interest in his daughter which, during an upcoming wedding ceremony, he would “give away.” When gays and lesbians call upon the state to approve marriages, are they doing anything more than substituting the state Swords Into Plowshares... Paul, Ron Best Price: $4.00 Buy New $15.99 (as of 11:36 UTC - Details) for the father in this arrangement?

If a father refused to acquiesce in his daughter’s intended marriage, the couple might decide to elope, thus circumventing the patriarch’s refusal. Even at a time when gay/lesbian marriages were not recognized at law, such couples might nonetheless ignore this legal impediment and undergo their own wedding ceremonies. Years before “gay marriage” became a political issue – at least twenty years ago – I attended three such gay marriages. In each instance, the couples invited their friends and relatives to witness their loving commitments to one another, it being recognized by all in attendance that their devotions to each other were self-validating. If gay marriages had been authorized by the state at this time, I suspect each of these couples would have sought a license. But the lack of legal recognition did not deter their public declarations. The Wizards of Ozymand... Butler Shaffer, Butler... Best Price: $8.38 Buy New $12.33 (as of 05:45 UTC - Details)

I recognize that this issue brings with it a number of secondary questions which, in a free society, ought to be dealt with by contract rather than political mandate (e.g., the rights of “spouses” under insurance contracts, Social Security programs, hospital visits, etc.) Minimum wage laws are another expression of the state using its coercive powers to impose the terms of employment relationships upon people, rather than having them freely contract for such provisions. Perhaps much of the hostility to gay marriages arises from such secondary consequences. If so, attention should be focused on that issue. Were we more principled in our thinking about how rights, duties, and other obligations are created in our world, perhaps these subsidiary matters would be taken care of more peacefully.

Scarlet Letters: The E... Jack Cashill Best Price: $3.00 Buy New $9.84 (as of 08:10 UTC - Details) If we were more focused in our social/political thinking, we might be more inclined to think through the consequences of our actions. What are some of the costs associated with a judicial declaration that gay marriage is a constitutionally protected right and, secondly, who is to bear such costs? The answer to such questions has already begun to emerge in cases in which bakers have been subjected to fines and/or civil damages for refusing to bake wedding cakes for gay/lesbian couples. In a world in which the rights of owners to control their property is no longer respected; a world in which trespasses upon the rights of others are permitted as long as one’s intentions are good, the peaceful and harmonizing nature of private property is replaced by wars of “all against all.” Is there anyone so naïve as to be unaware of the likelihood of gay or lesbian couples bringing damage – or, perhaps, even criminal – actions against priests, rabbis, or ministers who refuse to perform their weddings? These are the kinds of questions upon which intelligent minds should focus i.e., ought private persons – be they bakeries, hospitals, churches, or other businesses – be required to serve anyone not of their choosing?

As I read and listened to the angry objections expressed by many who oppose gay/lesbian marriage, I was troubled by a recurring thought: why would so many otherwise civil and decent human beings become outraged over the decisions of others to make  loving commitments to become partners with persons of their same gender? Politics engenders division and, hence, conflicts among people; and conflict produces anger between and among the warring factions, which may account for much of the fury over this practice. If people pay attention to what is occurring when the politically-minded mobilize the energies of human beings into “us” against “them” categories, political systems will likely collapse.

As to the question of marriage itself, I fail to understand how so many men and women can become irate over other men and women being in love with, and desiring to commit themselves to a lifelong relationship with persons of their own gender. In an institutionalized world grounded in wars, genocides, contrived anger and conflict, and other violent behavior that tears human society apart, I do not understand the attractions to this war against love. Even if we do not embrace the opinions, lifestyles, or religious beliefs of our neighbors, can we at least share a mutual respect for each of us to live and behave peacefully with one another?

In my youth there was a word that has all but disappeared from modern usage: “tolerance.” But in modern, politically-directed society, this word has succumbed to the forces of “righteous indignation,” “entitlements,” the absoluteness of “power,” and the school playground article of faith that “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us.” The word “tolerance” is treated, by some, as a defense for “bigotry.” Why is it so difficult for decent people to step outside the politically-manufactured corrals to which they have confined themselves, and to see their neighbor as more than just someone who happens to live next door to them? Why are so many of us unwilling to be tolerant of those who want only to share their love with members of their own gender?

Neither did I understand this reaction when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. In the city in which I lived, a very successful adult male had established a “homosexual” relationship with another adult male, and the local political establishment came down on them as though they had victimized someone. Because of the one man’s successful career, city officials – I was told – informed him that if he would move to another state and not return, he would not be criminally prosecuted. I could not understand this – perhaps my response coming from the anarchy segment of my DNA – and asked my parents about it. “These guys didn’t harm anyone else, so why are they being punished?”, I asked. My parents responded as most parents would to a child in his early teens asking a sex-related question: “you’ll understand when you grow up.” I am many decades older, now, and I still don’t understand!