Sunday, February 27, 2011

DOMA in Danger

     In an excellent piece on Wednesday, Heritage Foundation writer Chuck Donovan makes the basic case for marriage:
The consequences of failure are staggering, and the contemporary United States, like so many other Western nations, is seeing those consequences firsthand. The effects of broken families are statistically significant across category after category – youth crime, child poverty, educational attainment, and adult mental health in the next generation. For taxpayers, the costs of family dissolution and, increasingly, the failure of families to form are distressingly high and growing. It would be irrational not to privilege marriage for the sake of these concerns.
     It is hard to decide which is more alarming, the latest danger to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or the fact that we need it even more now than we did when President Clinton signed it into law in 1996. The challenges to traditional marriage tend to assume we run no risk by re-making what has been a core institution of society. Moreover, the further decay of the family is apparently the goal of some of the Left. For them, the state is (or at least should be) ready to take on the roles of mother and father. When the family is no longer needed to raise children, who are better off as government wards anyhow, then we can play around with marriage to suit the fashion of the day. Personal expression, being true to oneself, being authentic—these are the code words of a lifestyle that places shallow hedonism ahead of all duty.

     The only people who can possibly feel disadvantaged by DOMA are those seeking gay or polygamous marriages. Gay marriage is an absurdity without historical precedent, but we have plenty of historical evidence on polygamy. In polygamous cultures, high-status males tend to collect more than their share of females. The losers under polygamy are the average and below average males, who ultimately do without. If DOMA falls, at least they may have each other.


  1. Since DOMA is the law of the land, it's got to be unconstitutional to "disenforce" it. At some point an interested affected party should be able to demand a writ of mandamus, supposedly. That would depend, of course, on someone's having a legitimate complaint and legal standing to bring the issue.

    The point is well taken that changing the parameters of marriage is a social experiment on a grand scale. But it's only as large an experiment as the size of the population involved: how many people actually choose to raise children in a homosexual environment, but why go there? The family in high-tech societies is dissolute enough already, thanks very much. And hedonism/egoism is to blame even apart from the G-BLT component. Lack of respect for the marriage dynamic (mutual dedication of two to a bonded union, mostly to secure long term nurturing of children) is widespread even outside the G-BLT community. That's where the problem is. People don't believe enough in the institution itself to defend it.

  2. You hit the nail on the head, as usual. The demise of DOMA is a symptom of the institution's weakness, not a cause. It will symbolize the penultimate transformation before polygamy finishes the job.

    Is it possible to save--or re-valorize, as Heather MacDonald says--traditional marriage? For all my doubts, I cannot let it go without comment. The dangers are real, and nothing appears able to replace it. We are likely to be left with a society in which the relevant unit for interaction with the state is simply the individual citizen, unmediated by a family. Then, all demands for support and education will fall directly on the state. And once the state does everything for us, it can do anything to us. Hello Brave New World.

    Ironically, polygamy might be just the thing to re-invigorate marriage and the family. But more on that later.

  3. We already have polygamy. It's called serial marriage. LOL. Waiting for your "more on that," mostly because the statement is surprising.

  4. Having moved to the state of Utah some ten years ago, I was shocked to find that not only is polygamy still practiced, but it is not even horribly uncommon.

    Further, as the abolition of polygamy amongst the Mormon pioneers and all citizens of the Utah territory was a part of the price for the admission of Utah in statehood to the union, one would think that this would be enforced.

    Rather, it is seemingly intentionally overlooked to this very day, unless publically flaunted in the face of the law.

    Needless to say the huge problems of "sister-wives" not being legally protected under the law and yet their off-spring still being claimed as dependents causes all sorts of additional issues.

    Let alone the psychological issues for the man, wives and especially the children, one will often find the less favored wives living off of welfare as they are not "legally" married and yet still claim their dependent children.

  5. T. Paine: Yes, polygamy is a system that is easily abused. It is a bad idea. More, the same "arguments" people use to advocate for gay marriage would work in favor of polygamy. Such arguments might go like this: "Who are we to say all those women can't marry the same man, if they want to? They're consenting adults, right? Aren't we just imposing our restrictive, old-fashioned idea of marriage on them? What about their rights?"

    You get the gist. Anyway, if we do adopt gay marriage in this country, we will lose all ability to make a coherent argument against polygamy.

  6. GT: So, as you can see from my reply to T. Paine, I do not think polygamy is a good idea. It's just the lesser evil...