The conservative split on gay marriage

A most excellent piece on the meaning of marriage in America (and Canada; we’re not that different).

I understand why most religious folks oppose redefining marriage in any way. For many of them, it’s a holy institution, if not a sacrament. I get that, and I sympathize with their anguish. They believe the institution is there to protect the family (specifically its most vulnerable members, the children), and even though plenty of traditionally married people screw things up in dramatic and very damaging ways, it doesn’t change the purpose of the institution as an ideal we should aspire to live up to.

The problem, of course, is that it is very difficult for a modern, pluralistic society to use religious justifications as legal arguments. And here opponents of same-sex marriage have failed miserably to make their case. It was the same thing here in Canada way back when; the fight was between people who said gays had a secular right to marry and people who said God didn’t think so. (OK, that’s the simplified, if borderline simplistic one-line version of the fight. But I’m not far off.) In a secular society, “Goes doesn’t think so” doesn’t work as a legal argument. You can’t be surprised to lose your court case.

Marriage is a contract. And a hard one, too. Personally I believe we’d all do better if we focused more on holding up our end of the bargain we made with our spouse and less on trying to keep other people from this joyful struggle.

Now that’s a great idea

I love this story, of a successful high school where students have the kind of freedom to build their own education that’s unheard of in most institutional settings. Some kids do well in traditional models, of course. But too many have their needs ignored by inflexible systems (I know; I was one), which end up turning what should be an incredible opportunity to learn into a prison sentence.