March 8, 2013
Things are so different now. (AP/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE)
Things are so different now. (AP/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE)

It’s a blast from the past today on the Post Opinions page.  Former President Bill Clinton writes that though the Defense of Marriage Act seemed to him like a good idea at time (1996), it no longer does. Clinton suggests that it forestalled a constitutional amendment outright banning gay marriage, and it placated red states like Wyoming that weren’t likely to approve gay marriage anytime soon but worried that they’d have to recognize such marriages approved in blue states, like Massachusetts.  Arguably, the patchwork-compromise-evolution that we’ve seen in the past 17 years necessarily took 17 years to develop. But now we’re here (now we’re now?), where majorities of Americans support gay marriage and DOMA is impeding progress.

So our comments are full of reminiscences and reminders about the arguments and developments we’ve had in those 17 years–and which arguments we’re still having.

AnnsThought remembers that Clinton had a tarnished history on gay rights anyway:

Well you have to give Bill Clinton credit for his masterful spin skills. He has a way of rewriting history to suit his agenda. He was never supportive of the gay community. Gays endured “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is about as insulting as one can be towards a person. Lie about your very identity, and we’ll let you keep your job. I don’t believe he signed DOMA to “protect” the gay community from a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Bill Clinton signed it because he agreed with it.

berkeley bear also reminds us that activists remember Clinton’s efforts less fondly:

This “has-been” is paving the way for Hillary, by trying to make it known that he was always on the side of gay-rights. The conservatives will want to bring up the fact that HE SIGNED THE BILL, and [Hil and Bill] are both hypocrites. Which is true.

TheHillman eloquently reminds us that we’re talking about people and their very private selves, and that the issue is very complicated, and very, very local:

The abstract idea of gay marriage became very real to me this year. I just had serious cancer surgery. My partner of 25 years has been by my side every second. He’s been emptying my catheter.  He’s been helping me walk.  He’s been leaving the room so I don’t see him cry or get upset.  We live in DC, where we are legally married.  But the best doctor for my surgery is in Virginia. We had to worry about whether going two miles from our home meant the hospital could refuse to allow my partner into my room, or could fight his automatic right to make decisions for me. It added additional stress to an already very difficult situation.  A friend of mine in DC recently had his partner unexpectedly die. They too were married in DC. But his partner wished to be cremated, and there are no facilities for that in DC. So he had his partners body sent to a facility in Virginia. Then the facility director called him and told him Virginia law forbid him from doing the cremation.  Why? Because it was in furtherance of a gay marriage.  Ironically, if they had not been married and he just had power of attorney, then they could have done it. But Virginia crafted their laws so that being married in another locale actually made you have less rights in Virginia. It’s that sort of stupidity that makes a patchwork of rights totally unworkable. Straight people would never put up with their marriage not being legally recognized when they went on vacation to Hawaii, or when they visited their grandkids in Oklahoma.  Why should gay people put up with it?

SeaTigr reminds us the bar for legally/socially acceptable heterosexual marriage can be low enough to ick people out:

I don’t care if the marriage is between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman, a man and 10 women, or a woman and 10 men, so long as all parties involved are adults consenting of their own free will.

To that end, I think the 48ish states, D.C., and the territories that allow minors under 18 to marry with parental and/or judicial consent should repeal those laws. If a 14-17 year old (at least two states technically allow minors as young as 14 to marry, although both the states I am aware of require parental AND judicial consent – something a judge nowadays is highly unlikely to agree to, IMHO) can’t have their own credit card without an adult cosigner (who is legally liable for any debt incurred by the minor – the credit card company can come after the adult if the minor doesn’t pay), why should a minor be allowed to marry?

dcostello reminds us that it isn’t legally relevant if people not in the marriage are getting icked out.

Why is this a pro gay or anti gay issue? This is a constitutional issue that says no class of citizens can be denied their guaranteed rights unless there is a compelling reason for the government to do so. The opponents have not been able to show such a compelling reason and even admitted so in California. For example you can limit the age at which people–gay or sty- get married because it is applied to all people and not to a specific class and the government sees a benefit by having married couples reach a level of maturity and independence.

ichabodvalentine reminds us that all kinds of relationships are icky, and proves impressively that getting enough information about any relationship to make a moral judgment makes the rest of us more involved in the relationship than we want to be, or ought to be:

So a few of you libs, in the interests of remaining logically consistent, have admitted (forced to admit?) that you can’t think of any rational reason for the State to prohibit two homosexual men, both over age 25, from marrying each other even though they be father and son (provided each consents and has the mental capacity to enter contracts.)
Will you remain consistent if I ask the next question?
Can you think of any rational reason for the State to prohibit homosexual men, over age 25 (provided each consents and has the mental capacity to enter a contract), from marrying each other if THREE men would all like to get married to each other?
In other words, you leftists support two men getting married to each other. Why are you leftists so horrified at the thought of THREE men all marrying each other (assuming they all love each other)?

reasonableconservative reminds us it’s easy to make grand historical pronouncements without them being true:

Every society in the history of mankind that has allowed itself to go down the slippery slope of same sex sexual relations has ended up self-destructing from within. This is just one more way the proggie-libs are attempting to invalidate everything that the Founding Fathers stood for.

To which, Post Script responds: India has tolerated homosexual relationships since the fourth century at least. It’s in the freaking Kama Sutra.

Astorix reminds us the “slippery slope” thing hasn’t happened in Canada:

Canada has allowed gay marriage for 8 years and there has been no clamoring for polygamy, no first cousins applying for marriage licenses no adults wanting to marry kids. There is still a clear definition of marriage between two non-related consenting adults of legal age. It’s accepted here. What on earth is the big deal?
Gay marriage was the wedge issue du jour in 1996. This too shall pass and 5 years people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

And JavierHvonSydow reminds us why it is hard, in 2013, to take some opponents of homosexuality seriously. It might be because they do things like refer to a consenting adult relationship as “seduc[ing] the daughter of an American citizen.” If PostScript may say, ick.

What sort of amazing changes have occurred in the 17 years that span from one event to the other, that justify this conduct? What? Were there no homosexuals back then? Did they not live together? Did they not want to get married? Why should we follow the moral directions of a person that abused of his position of power to seduce the daughter of an American citizen entrusted to his office and publicly lie to the People of the US about it? Is every natural and moral rule THAT relative, that in effect anything for which there may be some consensus, a lot of activism and publicity of a few, and a considerable amount of passivity and cowardice from many in the majority that stands opposed to it, is sufficient to dislodge common sense and an institution that has come to us from the beginnings of Humanity and the confines of the Earth?