Via Julie Ponzi, we get Jennifer Roback Morse lamenting the “consequences” of the new gay marriage law in Washington D.C. Apparently one of those consequences is that some people don’t like the new law:
It’s a shame that the Archdiocese decided to make a scorched-earth response to the law. But that’s the Archdiocese’s choice, and if Catholic officials believe that’s in keeping with their theology — well, who am I to argue?
But the fact that some institutions will take extraordinary steps to avoid coming under the law isn’t really an argument for or against the soundness of the law itself. When desegregation started really making waves throughout the South, many parents pulled their kids out of public schools and put them into private schools. It was widespread — and remains so, to some extent, today. Yet to argue that private efforts to avoid desegregation require the government to actually enforce segregation would be regarded as laughable. Similarly, there’s a few people who think that income taxes should be abolished — but almost nobody argues that taxes should be abolished because some people hire accountants to find loopholes in the code.
Finally, there’s no “or else” here that isn’t part of, oh, every law ever passed. It’s silly to pretend there’s something extra tyrannical about recognizing gay marriages.
On to Morse’s other “consequence”:
Thus do certain conservatives require the state to be in the business of sacralizing their marriages. But that’s not what the state is for, is it? Churches and synagogues and mosques can offer a blessing upon a marriage — and they’re certainly not being required to bless same-sex marriages, even under the new law. All the state does is provide recognition of marriage and certain legal rights that go with it.
Weirdly, the rise of gay marriage is likely to brighten the lines between state-sanctioned marriage and religiously sanctioned marriage, pointing up the limits of the state in creating our society. It’s a notion that’s almost … conservative.
But the lack of “bride” and “groom” on the new marriage licenses is a bit of bureaucratic mehness that means far less than what Morse thinks it does. Very few people — if any — will be paying attention to the language on those licenses; very few people — if any — will let it influence their linguistic choices at church weddings. There will still be brides and grooms and husbands and wives … and they’ll be joined by brides and brides and husbands and husbands. The checklist on the local government’s application sheet really won’t change that. The idea that “civil society is being swept aside” is more than a little ridiculous.
And in any case: If these are the worst “consequences” of gay marriage that Morse can come up with on the first day of the new law, I’d say straights-only marriage proponents have a thinner case than we even thought.