Gross media bias against traditional marriage
March 4, 2013 1 Comment
Yahoo’s The Ticket ran a story with this headline today: “Argument against gay marriage in California hinges on accidental pregnancies.” Word ford word, this is the most biased caption I’ve ever encountered. Consider this alternative: “Legal case for traditional marriage in California rests on biological distinctions.”
The text of the article quotes brilliant conservative casemaker Paul Clement as referring to “unplanned and unintended offspring.” Perhaps after having read the War on Women Writing Style Manual, some editor at Yahoo News chose to represent this as “accidental pregnancies.” Accidental, as in the cringe-inducing “Sweetie, you were an accident.” And pregnancies, as in, “Oh no, the government wants to mess with womens’ wombs again.” The headline is clearly crafted for those who think laws are meant to preserve their moral autonomy rather than serve the continuation of civilization.
The news copy writer, Liz Goodwin, describes Clement and his colleagues as “opponents to gay marriage.” This antagonistic characterization facilitates the readers’ conflation of social and legal sanction. One can oppose legal recognition of same sex marriage while still supporting the right of two people of the same sex to pursue a life together, have a public wedding ceremony, obtain a civil union, and be entitled to federal and state benefits. Goodwin seems less interested in making this important distinction than in stoking the outrage of social liberals.
The article goes on to chronicle “the government’s right to ban gay marriage” since the 1970s. What ban? Were same sex marriages banned in 1950 and in 1900 as well? No, as with abortion at the time the Constitution was adopted, the thing was practically unheard of.
Towards the end of the piece, Goodwin offers a slippery slope analysis of legal reasoning like Clement’s. The fear is that the success of such an argument could justify further marriage restrictions based on infertility or being beyond childbearing age. This is absurd. Those kind of determinations would be impractically intrusive and a waste of government time, money, and energy. Not unlike a recent proposal by Missouri Democrats to ban the possession of assault rifles.
Note that in Goodwin’s story, the slippery slope is a one way deal. But consider the opposite. If we expand the meaning of marriage to include same sex couples, what really stops us from honoring polygamous marriages or even more unconventional arrangements?
Leave it to liberals to fail to make the proper distinctions. The Justice Department has gone after the Defense of Marriage Act on the basis of expanding federal entitlement benefits. But marriage is not about entitlement benefits. Per an amicus briefing, the Department declared, “Marriage is far more than a societal means of dealing with unintended pregnancies.” Since when did we decide that government should have its imprint on all those other things marriage is also about?
The most sensible understanding of the state’s role in marriage is that it has a vested interest in seeing as many children as possible raised in stable homes with both of their natural parents. Sometimes that’s not feasible, and an alternative like adoption may be required. Let caring and committed gay couples do that if they wish. But if the state wants to expand entitlement benefits to a new class of relationship, it needn’t redefine marriage. Civil unions should do the job just fine. To redefine marriage on a passionate but arbitrary conviction that it’s a civil rights issue would send a disasterous signal that marriage is about having your personal feelings validated by the government. And that, anyone should be able to see, is ridiculous.