Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Dennis Prager has a column at the Worldnutdaily filled with predictable and ill-conceived outrage at the California gay marriage ruling. He begins by saying: this is big. Really big:

Nothing imaginable – leftward or rightward – would constitute as radical a change in the way society is structured as this redefining of marriage for the first time in history: Not another Prohibition, not government taking over all health care, not changing all public education to private schools, not America leaving the United Nations, not rescinding the income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax. Nothing.

Unless California voters amend the California Constitution or Congress amends the U.S. Constitution, four justices of the California Supreme Court will have changed American society more than any four individuals since Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison.


Okay, reality check. The ruling from the California Supreme Court was not really about whether gays could get married, it was about whether they could call it marriage. California already has domestic partnership laws that give most of the rights and protections of marriage to gay couples. This case was about whether those partnerships had to be called marriages and the court said yes. The only real change is the label, not the reality.

Another reason for this decision is arrogance. First, the arrogance of four individuals to impose their understanding of what is right and wrong on the rest of society. And second is the arrogance of the four compassionate ones in assuming that all thinkers, theologians, philosophers, religions and moral systems in history were wrong, while they and their supporters have seen a moral light never seen before.

I love arguments like this. The argument applies to virtually every major case in the history of the court – remember, the court exists for the purpose of overturning legislation passed by the “rest of society.” Let’s flash back to 1963, when an “arrogant” federal judge “imposed his understanding of what is right and wrong” on the people of Alabama and forced the University of Alabama to admit black students.

Every single element that Prager objects to is present in that case as well. That “arrogant” federal judge assuming that all of the vast history and tradition of theologians, philosophers, religions and moral systems maintaining that race-mixing was a bad thing were wrong while he saw things in a moral light never seen before. But he was right, of course, and they were wrong. And even Dennis Prager would not make the same argument there, no matter how valid.

As I’ve said before, this argument is only used when one disagrees with the outcome. If you think the “will of the people” backed by centuries of tradition is right, then damn those arrogant judges for imposing their tyrannical will. If you think the “will of the people” backed by centuries of tradition is wrong, then praise those judges for doing the right thing. But if you think the decision is wrong then say it’s wrong; it’s not wrong merely because it goes against the will of the people or longstanding tradition or religious endorsement. This exact same argument was made about slavery, about miscegenation laws, about bans on contraception, and virtually every other major change.

That is one reason the argument that this decision is the same as courts undoing legal bans on marriages between races is false. No major religion – not Judaism, not Christianity, not Islam, not Buddhism – ever banned interracial marriage. Some religions have banned marriages with members of other religions. But since these religions allowed anyone of any race to convert, i.e., become a member of that religion, the race or ethnicity of individuals never mattered with regard to marriage. American bans on interracial marriages were not supported by any major religious or moral system; those bans were immoral aberrations, no matter how many religious individuals may have supported them. Justices who overthrew bans on interracial marriages, therefore, had virtually every moral and religious value system since ancient times on their side.

Talk about historical revisionism. Of course no one can claim that “Christianity” banned interracial marriage because there is no official body that speaks for “Christianity” (as opposed to various denominations of it), but isn’t it interesting that Prager says it doesn’t matter how many Christian leaders or denominations took that position. It doesn’t?

Surely he would at least admit that wherever Christianity dominated in the West, interracial marriage was banned for centuries. In the US, those laws were enforced in all 13 colonies going back to the late 1600s. The majority of American states had such laws until the late 1940s and a sizable minority had them until 1967, when the court overturned them. In each and every case, they were justified on the basis of religion. The district court judge in the Loving case declared:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there
would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he
did not intend for the races to mix.”

Such laws were justified and defended using Biblical stories of Phinehas and the “curse of Ham.” Whether those stories were interpreted correctly or not is irrelevant; the point is that these laws were always justified with reference to the Bible and Christianity. And incidentally, it was California that led the way in overturning such laws, which the California Supreme Court did in 1948 in Perez v Sharp. Those damn arrogant judges, thinking they could tell right from wrong better than the people of every state going back three centuries!

And now we get to Prager’s analysis of why this is so evil, the horrible effects this ruling will have. And yes, it’s amusing:

Outside of the privacy of their homes, young girls will be discouraged from imagining one day marrying their prince charming – to do so would be declared “heterosexist,” morally equivalent to racist. Rather, they will be told to imagine a prince or a princess. Schoolbooks will not be allowed to describe marriage in male-female ways alone. Little girls will be asked by other girls and by teachers if they want one day to marry a man or a woman.

Wow. That is just staggeringly stupid. Dennis, seriously, do you think young girls in Massachusetts today don’t imagine their future wedding to Prince Charming? How does the fact that other girls have the right to marry Princess Charming change what anyone can imagine or dream about? This is all quite silly.

The comparison to race is even more silly. By Prager’s “logic” the legalization of interracial marriage should have led to anyone who marries someone of their own race being berated and called a racist for not marrying someone of another race. Anyone know anyone who’s been so berated? Me neither. Allowing greater choice for a small subset of people doesn’t change a damn thing for the vast majority of people.

The sexual confusion that same-sex marriage will create among young people is not fully measurable. Suffice it to say that, contrary to the sexual know-nothings who believe that sexual orientation is fixed from birth and permanent, the fact is that sexual orientation is more of a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality. Much of humanity – especially females – can enjoy homosexual sex. It is up to society to channel polymorphous human sexuality into an exclusively heterosexual direction – until now, accomplished through marriage.

For crying out loud. Does Prager really believe that because women can now marry women in California, more women are going to become lesbians? How does someone get this deluded?

Any advocacy of man-woman marriage alone will be regarded morally as hate speech, and shortly thereafter it will be deemed so in law.

Right. We’re just *this close* to throwing you in the concentration camps, Dennis. You just keep telling yourself that. I’ve got news for you, Dennis: gay people don’t give a flying fuck who you marry. They don’t want you to marry a guy, they want you to marry the person you live, whether male or female. And they want the same right for themselves.

Companies that advertise engagement rings will have to show a man putting a ring on a man’s finger – if they show only women fingers, they will be boycotted just as a company having racist ads would be now.

Right. Just like all those boycotts against bridal magazines that don’t show interracial couples on the cover. Oh wait, there are no such boycotts. Ah, why let reality intrude on a perfectly good persecution prediction?