DATE: 1/05/2004 09:41:00 AM
Britney's, uh, Marriage - Andrew Sullivan makes a fair point about the sorta-kinda marriage of Britney Spears this weekend. The pop star married a childhood friend, then quickly moved to have the marriage annulled the next day. One would think 'pro-marriage' organizations like the Family Research Council would quickly move to condemn Spears' actions as harmful to the sanctity of marriage. A check of that organization's website (as of 9 a.m. EST) reveals they have made no such statement. Instead, one of the highlighted stories is a condemnation of David Brooks' column defending the idea of gay marriage. The FRC dismisses Brooks' argument by saying his "conservative credentials are immediately questioned by the fact that he was hired to write for The New York Times op-ed page." The writer does acknowledge that marriage has been weakened by 'no fault' divorce laws, and that such laws need to be repealed. He then calls on President Bush to 'immediately' support the Federal Marriage Amendment.
President Bush should do no such thing. The last time the Constitution was used to promote a prohibitionist agenda, the effort failed. There is no reason to believe the FMA will have a different fate than the Eighteenth Amendment. What organizations like the FRC don't realize is that they have already lost the debate through years of inaction. Marriage was weakened not by homosexuals, but by the refusal of conservatives to do anything about the rising divorce rate in the United States over the past 25-30 years, or the neglect of pastors who use weddings as a quick payday for the church. Even now, it's possible for two people to go to a pastor and get married without counseling or preparation classes. Where's the sanctity in that?
As Andrew Sullivan said, Spears and her friend were able to get married as a joke. Even so, they enjoyed (for a few hours anyway) the full rights and benefits of that marriage. We live in a country that allows casual friends or strangers to get married on a whim but refuses the rights that come with marriage to couples that have been together for years. I support the idea of civil unions as a compromise between the two sides. Perhaps this makes me a fence-sitter, or one who indulges in semantic arguments. That's an argument for another day.
Mostly, I'm just someone who's tired of the conservative (and evangelical) preoccupation with homosexuality. A multitude of issues challenge marriage and the family in the United States - easy divorce, lazy pastors, pornography, abuse - but homosexuality is where organizations like the FRC expend most of their time and money. Who knows why? Maybe the other issues just don't look as good on a fundraising letter.