Canada is now recognizing gay marriages, and many in America think it is embarrassing that our country is lagging behind.
Well, just wait a minute. When gay marriages are not being recognized it isn’t just that one is opposed to them. There can be full acceptance of such marriages while still resisting them, not because one wants to impose one’s moral or religious standards on other people, but simply because one doesn’t want to give economic support to them and so impose such standards on some others.
The fact is that by now being married amounts to a kind of political status, entitling one to all kinds of benefits from or imposed by governments, benefits for which others are required to pay.
I am, for one, not opposed to gay marriages or union or whatever one wishes to call them. The real question is should there be any bans on gays forming a legally recognized lasting, romantic-sexual union?
I see no reason for such a ban — in a free society people ought to face no obstacles placed before such voluntary unions. It is their lives, their choices, no one else’s.
What has happened, however, is that nearly everything is now attached to some kind of government supplied perk — being a farmer, teacher, artists, married and so forth. And while there really should be no such perks attached to any of these, some ways of living are simply more controversial than others and so it is understandable that providing tax-funded subsidies in their support is quite testy.
It is not all that different from tolerating abortions but refusing to support governments funding the procedure. That would force millions who do not believe in abortion to spend money on them. Given how strongly they feel about abortion, having them live in the company of those who avail themselves of that procedure is one thing, but to force them to provide support to these folks, too, is quite another.
And the same goes for gay marriages. A free society does not guarantee someone that everything is going to go his or her way, only that no one will violate one’s rights with impunity. Well, being forced to pay for abortions is such a clear-cut violation, as is to be forced to supply gays with the political perks that now go with being married.
OK, then what about Canada? Well, Canada has been a near-socialist country for years.
In Canada there is a government bureau for nearly everything, like in those Monty Python sketches with the Ministry of this, that and yet another thing, ad infinitum. Government is at the helm of all areas of social and even perfectly private affairs, so when Canada decides to force everyone to support something, its simply par for the course.
In the United States, however, there is still some semblance of separation between the private and the public. So, one’s private convictions — however offensive they might be — are one’s business, and one can expect that no one will be forced to act against them, especially where they are a very strong part of one’s religion. Being made to pay for others’ alleged sinfulness is certainly a kind of government intrusion that one should not stand for quietly in a free or even semi-free country.
It would be one thing if marriage was simply marriage, not a ticket to all kinds of benefits the government hands out at others’ expense or makes others pay for, such as one’s employers. Then there should indeed be no opposition to letting gays marry. But that is not how it is, so not supporting gay marriages isn’t necessarily bigotry— it could simply be a way to stand up for freedom of association, ironically enough.
Tibor Machan advises Freedom Communications, parent company of this newspaper. E-mail him at: