Don’t render unto Caesar…

While the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state of New York is certainly a cause for joy, it contains at its root a cautionary tale about the power of politics over the private realm that Columbia professor Katherine M. Franke touches upon in this column:

What’s difficult to explain is that for some lesbians and gay men, having our relationships sanctioned and regulated by the state is hardly something to celebrate. It was only a few years ago that we were criminals in the eyes of the law simply because of whom we loved. As strangers to marriage for so long, we’ve created loving and committed forms of family, care and attachment that far exceed, and often improve on, the narrow legal definition of marriage. Many of us are not ready to abandon those nonmarital ways of loving once we can legally marry.

The swift transformation of the public perception of homosexuality from mental illness only a few decades ago to a recognized and respected sexual identity makes one wonder whether political decision-makers have not been obstructing rather than aiding happiness and freedom in the private sphere by assuming authority over questions of life that it should always be the sole prerogative of the individuals concerned to answer – in this case, what kinds of partnerships are of merit.

  1. #1 by Eleanor on June 25, 2011 - 7:01 am

    on social change/gay marriage in general (i know this doesn’t directly address the point you raised)
    but do these self-righteous politicians bring light to an issue in a way to incites those of opposite viewpoints to speak and provide a local, state, or national forum from which advocates of the non-status quo viewpoint can put forth counter arguments? You forget that, at least in the US, a lot of these private realm things were really just not talked about at all and people acted on instinct, familiarity, and the expected.

    So if politicians impeded social change, we would expect that people were changing their opinions at a fairly swift rate but then the political arena gave more weight to the status quo.

    If they expedited status quo, we would expect that people were not changing their opinions as quick as they have since this became a political issue.

    to Franke’s point on the diversity of marriage—-do getting legal tax benefits really change a couple’s ability to decide how they want to decide how unconventional their relationship is?

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