June 21, 2003
First Acrimony, Then Alimony?
Is the Culture War over already? Should I close down my blog and go party?
It might have something to do with his writing style (and it might be because I don't like seeing someone bashed because the bashers don't like his parents) but despite many disagreements with what he has said, I have always found something likeable about Jonah Goldberg. His amiability came through in his piece today, in which he urges conservatives to face simple reality, and gay activists to be magnanimous in victory.
With the war "over" I don't see much point in regurgitating what I wrote last year (before I began blogging in earnest) about gay marriage, but here's the gist:
Until now, consensual homosexuality has been one of the few remaining unregulated, private sanctuaries of bohemian life in America. I for one would like to keep it that way.
How could I -- a libertarian, someone who believes in maximizing human freedom -- possibly object to gay marriage? Wouldn't this simply allow homosexuals the same rights allowed everybody else?
First of all, from where derives the assumption that I want to be like everybody else? Rights are one thing, but is it really fair to see marriage as a "right?" It is an entire institution -- one which I have rejected for almost my entire life. Who the hell has the right to impose it on me with the threat of governmental coercion?
If you don't think there is governmental coercion involved in marriage, then I ask you, right now, to leave your house, get in your car, or walk -- down to the nearest post office. Look around the place, and somewhere on the wall you will see posters offering rewards for people known as "deadbeat dads." I am not defending them, because I think most of them are either con artists or abysmal failures in life, but how many of them do you think see marriage as a "right?"
What do you think alimony is? Community property? These are rights, but they are also onerous burdens, because they can mean having to give up large sums of money (perhaps half or more of what you own) or else GO TO JAIL.
Rights? The "right" to be jailed if I don't pay up to someone I no longer love? How is that a right? How is it a right to be placed by new laws in a position where I can be compelled to do something to which I never consented, under threat of imprisonment?
What if I do not want such a right? May I simply opt out? Suppose I take pity on an unwashed, down-on-his-luck, young homeless person who'd otherwise be engaged in prostitution or other ruinous pursuits, and I take him in. Suppose I have more money than he does -- a lot more. Suppose further that we work a deal: in exchange for food and rent he takes care of the place and helps out generally. Suppose a mutual sexual relationship occurs. Suppose further that both of us benefit, that he gets a job and improves his life, but that after about two or three years I get tired of his sullen, studied ignorance and ask him to leave. No one has been harmed or taken advantage of.
What would stop him from marching off in a rage to the nearest lawyer? In a state with legal gay marriage why couldn't he simply demand his "share" of so-called "community assets"? Moral conservatives can complain all they want about the immoral lifestyle and how it degrades the courts to be cluttering up their calendars with such litigation, but what about me? What "right" would I have gained? The way I see it, I would have lost, big time, and I would have government in my private life in ways never imaginable before.
I saw too much family law, and I know how evil the system can be. I also know how vindictive an angry ex can be. There is nothing pretty about two people breaking up, whether heterosexual or homosexual. Until now the difference was that homosexuals were simply two free men (or two free women) and if they wanted economic benefits they would have to actually do things such as creating trusts, drafting wills, entering into adoption agreements, signing powers of attorney, and the like. If they didn't want to do those things, then they should legally remain two strangers.
In a word, before gay marriage, they were free. This is a freedom which I do not want to surrender, certainly not because a large and vocal group of people are demanding something they think is a "right."
If you think I am engaging in even the slightest hyperbole, then read this.
Lawyers in New Jersey are already waiting in the wings.
As it stands today, homosexuality does not threaten anyone's freedom in those states without sodomy laws.
But taking away rights -- even if done in the name of giving rights -- does.
Some might ask, how can there be rights without responsibilities? It is one thing to impose a responsibility on those who seek it deliberately, and enter into formal arrangements. It is quite another to create a new cause of action which is a trap for the unwary. To me, it smacks of a totalitarian foot in the door.
One of the arguments often heard in favor of alimony is that it compensates a woman for having given a man "the best years of her life." She being "devalued" as a result of this, it is only fair for him to pay her. This does not apply to gay couples. I remember well breaking up with an ex, who made precisely that argument -- that he had given up his best years. Well, what did that make my years? My worst years? He said that I would never have finished law school without him; I said that I finished law school in spite of him.
Granted, this was all terrible bitchiness, and much was said on both sides which was hateful, although later forgiven and forgotten. But had it been possible to state a legal cause of action, there'd have been hell to pay. Why? Simply because I was making more money? What is fair about that, unless the idea is to impose socialism? Many of the advocates of gay marriage also fight for socialism -- so many, that I am confident that were someone to propose a model gay marriage statute minus the alimony provisions, they would scream, howl (and blame objections to alimony on "internalized homophobia"). Doubtless they would come up with some argument that the "less advantaged" partner was being denied his "rights." I don't get it. If there is freedom, we all have the same advantages under the law, and anything more should never be imposed by force, but only by mutual consent.
But then, I am no socialist. Gay marriage shows every sign of being another step towards creeping socialism.
...activists on the left and right still want to invite the state deeper into our relationships. They’re both wrong. It’s time to get the state out of our relationships.
I have nothing against consensus, mind you. But when I see activists on the left and right agreeing on the need for more regulation, I become wary. As the gay activists bask in victory, instead of thinking about what rights they are getting, I wish some of them would ask themselves what they might be losing in the process.
I don't want the state in my relationships.
I don't want to visualize gay alimony.
There but for the grace of the gods went I -- and it wasn't a pretty picture.
posted by Eric on 06.21.03 at 12:07 AM
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