I don’t have much to add to Daniel’s excellent post on gay marriage yesterday. I’ll say only that Senator Portman’s reversal on the issue is symptomatic of the corruption and sentimentalizing of conservative thinking. We do not know how to talk about rights anymore.
It used to be axiomatic to the thinking in our circles that a man’s rights corresponded to his abilities. It is not a right if you need me to give it to you or can only get it by the force. Our understanding about the true nature of rights is why the Left’s jibber jabber about supposed rights to health care and education puts a twitch in our eyes. The Left’s conception of rights is actually a license for the use of force by the State.
If a man has a right to marry, some woman must have the duty of marrying him; if a man has a right to rest, some other person must have the duty of supporting him. If rights are confused with desires, the mass of men must feel always that some vast, intangible conspiracy thwarts their attainment of what they are told is their inalienable birthright. Those are the words of Russell Kirk.
Marriage pre-dates the State. Governments can only recognize the institution — not enforce it. Marriage is foundational to the way society is ordered. It creates a bulwark for the protection of women and children. It creates self-governing units of people (we used to call them families in antiquarian America) who in turn erect governments that protect the natural rights already existent in the populace.
It is a bad sign for America that so many conservatives don’t know or won’t defend the elementary convictions of their philosophy. They cannot discern rights and order from force and disorder. They have been swept off their feet by the romantic inventions of cultural radicals.
Author Wendell Talley
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