Thomas Sowell
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In all the states where gay marriage was on the ballot this year, the voters voted against it -- as they should have.

 Of all the phony arguments for gay marriage, the phoniest is the argument that it is a matter of equal rights. Marriage is not a right extended to individuals by the government. It is a restriction on the rights they already have.

 People who are simply living together can make whatever arrangements they want, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. They can divide up their worldly belongings 50-50 or 90-10 or whatever other way they want. They can make their union temporary or permanent or subject to cancellation at any time.

 Marriage is a restriction. If my wife buys an automobile with her own money, under California marriage laws I automatically own half of it, whether or not my name is on the title. Whether that law is good, bad, or indifferent, it is a limitation of our freedom to arrange such things as we ourselves might choose. This is just one of many decisions that marriage laws take out of our hands.

 Oliver Wendell Holmes said that the life of the law is not logic but experience. Marriage laws have evolved through centuries of experience with couples of opposite sexes -- and the children that result from such unions. Society asserts its stake in the decisions made by restricting the couples' options.

 Society has no such stake in the outcome of a union between two people of the same sex. Transferring all those laws to same-sex couples would make no more sense than transferring the rules of baseball to football.

 Why then do gay activists want their options restricted by marriage laws, when they can make their own contracts with their own provisions and hold whatever kinds of ceremony they want to celebrate it?

 The issue is not individual rights. What the activists are seeking is official social approval of their lifestyle. But this is the antithesis of equal rights.

 If you have a right to someone else's approval, then they do not have a right to their own opinions and values. You cannot say that what "consenting adults" do in private is nobody else's business and then turn around and say that others are bound to put their seal of approval on it.

 The rhetoric of "equal rights" has become the road to special privilege for all sorts of groups, so perhaps it was inevitable that gay activists would take that road as well. It has worked. They have already succeeded in getting far more government money for AIDS than for other diseases that kill far more people.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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