Adam Kolasinski, an MIT Doctoral student in financial economics, has written an article, “The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage.” (linked to robot-heart-politics, who generally has very good comments, and this guy, who generally doesn’t.)Unfortunately, Adam Kolasinski doesn’t make a very good case. (I thought his impressive academic pedigree would at least produce an insightful argument. I thought wrong.) He begins:
The debate over whether the state ought to recognize gay marriages has thus far focused on the issue as one of civil rights. Such a treatment is erroneous because state recognition of marriage is not a universal right. […] Homosexuals, therefore, are not the only people to be denied the right to marry the person of their choosing.
Talking about what is and is not a “universal right” is a bit of a red herring. Do we have a “universal right” to free speech? To bear arms? Are there any rights without exceptions? Of course not. And we could debate all day about whether certain rights are self-evident, where such rights came from, and how far they extend. And at the end of the day we wouldn’t agree on any of it. The claim that there is a “right” to same sex marriage need not be more radical than there being a right to relatively equal treatment by the law—and that any exceptions to that rule need to have a compelling government interest. Discussions of abstract rights frequently distract from the immediate and personal nature of injustice. This can be convenient—if you’re on the side pushing the injustice. When we talk about rights, make sure we don’t forget that that my friends in same-sex relationship may end up dying without the person they love most because of hospital visitation policies. And we should also keep in mind that another friend is gathering all kinds of benefits as her gay friend’s “domestic partner” because his actual domestic partner is ineligible.
So let’s not talk about “universal rights.” Instead, let’s talk about rights generally extended to most people in most circumstances that shouldn’t be denied from others without a damn good reason. And let’s talk about why there isn’t a good reason to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.