"In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine"

Those are the words that grace the beginning of the new NH legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Surreal, no? And it came to pass that in the 5th year of the incumbent D, marriage was naught, for Lynch took it.

Marriage is, I guess, something that governments like to establish for any two people who have the hots for each other. Well, not quite everyone. That would be silly. The law includes a helpful (and weirdly extensive) list of all those who explicitly aren’t allowed to marry:

"457:2 Marriages Prohibited. No person shall marry his or her father, mother, father's brother, father's sister, mother's brother, mother's sister, son, daughter, brother's sister, son's son, son's daughter, daughter's son, daughter's daughter, brother's son, brother's daughter, sister's son, sister's daughter, father's brother's son, father's brother's daughter, mother's brother’s son, mother's brother's daughter, father's sister's son, father's sister's daughter, mother's sister's son, or mother's sister's daughter. No person shall be allowed to be married to more than one person at any given time."
What the hell is this? If we can guarantee no offspring from these sorts of couples (I'd be so grossed out by those birth-defects) why not let 'em have their fun too?

Notice the polygamy bit at the end. Now that is telling. When the first gay marriage laws were enacted it was argued (very pragmatically, I might add) that it would lead to polygamy. That's ridiculous. But then it did lead to polygamy and these later laws suddenly and miraculously include "no polygamy" stipulations. The mere fact that legislators felt the need to include specific prohibitions against marrying your grandkids means there wasn't enough confidence that the culture wouldn't try it.

Logically speaking, of course, there are no good reasons left not to allow it---excepting of course, the new bedrock of American ethics: "eeeeewwww!"

Since the law didn't include language denying the right to marry aliens, pets and other non-humans, it's a safe bet they're still fairly confident that some aspects of this western culture thing will stay safely principled.

My hope from all this is that conservatives (and Christians) will wake up to the reality of all that they've given up over the years. When liberal bloggers at the Huffington Post made snarky comments about how legalizing gay marriage obviously wouldn’t ruin anyone's particular marriage, I thought they were feigning ignorance. But the fact is, by passing no-fault divorce legislation those many years ago, marriage was suddenly not something recognized by the state, but something established by it. The legal difference between marriage before then an after couldn't be more extreme. Suddenly the only reason any individual marriage is anything at all is simply because the individuals within the marriage made it so. There is no "marriage" only "my marriage," and "your marriage," and "their marriage," which of course is a terrible way to define something. In the immortal words of Mitch Hedberg: "**** you, real estate lady. This bedroom has an oven in it! This bedroom has a lot of people sitting around watching TV. This bedroom's over in that guy's house."

At some point conservatives began to argue practically because that's "what works." It seemed to make sense until we started defending our Christian faith on the same grounds. But oddly people thought that made sense too. How did we not see this coming? Oh wait, just answered that. The problem is that arguing in terms of practicality is necessarily subject to the culture in which the argument takes place. If it's a good culture then practical common sense is fine, but if it's an aberrant culture then it's suddenly very reasonable and clear-headed to eat the residents of the next town over.

I’m also mystified about the "religious conscience" language. Obviously no one who voted in favor of the new law thinks Christianity is correct here, or anywhere, really. To them it's a moral matter (as moralistic as secular society gets) to allow gay-marriage. It's a fundamental right born out of a person's fundamental right to, uh ... do ... things (That's the Homer Simpson philosophy of human rights). And it doesn't even apply to everyone since only a minister has the right to refuse to officiate a gay marriage. If a Christian photographer refused his services to a gay couple it would suddenly be the photographer's right as a free businessman against the couple's right to patronize his business. Only it's not even that since apparently the law won't let the photographer refuse. At some point basing everything on individual rights leads to an absurdity. But there's nothing more fundamental than rights! Rights! Rights! Rights!

Why exactly are (some) people allowed their consciences on this one? The NH law says so much more than what is specifically stated: At best Christians, those who believe their faith, are only against gay-marriage because of a misguided commitment to a wrong-headed belief system. But we all need our opiates so we'll allow it, provided that bushel's kept securely on top.

Janeane Garofalo, in her verbal ralphing a couple months ago, said something interesting. Actually, she said several interesting things, one of them being that all those attending the tea parties was racist. That's a very interesting claim. But what I mean to say is that she made an interesting point: there have been no conservatives since Berry Goldwater. Overstated perhaps, but she's got something there since most conservatives I know end up arguing like libertarians. Libertarians with a conscience. Most conservatives feel like there are some kind of moral standards out there, they feel so very strongly, many even feel the Bible does a decent job of outlining many of them, but since they aren't quite sure the meaning behind all that and obviously "freedom" is a trump-all, they seem content with fighting for the right of liberals to piss all over them.

Let's argue on our terms why don't we? And while we're at it, be the principled permanent-things-committed people required for our ideas to make any sense at all.


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