Politics Magazine

Same-sex Marriage: Kersten Climbs Back into the Saddle, Rides in Place

Posted on the 06 June 2012 by Erictheblue

Katherine Kersten's latest argument--I use the term loosely--against same-sex marriage begins with the announcement that it is but a short step from Adam and Steve to Adam and Steve and Eloise.  The middle of her case is less amusing and almost wholly incoherent.  The following is representative:

What will happen if we buy the civil-rights analogy and redefine marriage as a "unisex" institution on grounds that "equality" requires it?

First, we will weaken the institution's ability to support men and women in forming permanent, sexually exclusive unions.  Norms of fidelity and permanence are central to heterosexual marriage, where sex acts can produce children.  But they don't have the same logical necessity in unisex relationships, which are more like friendships in this respect.

It is not a good sign that the referent of "in this respect" is anyone's guess.  In what respect?  And to what does "they" refer at the beginning of the sentence?  The "fidelity" and "permanence" that are a logical necessity of heterosexual relationships?  But that only calls attention to the fact that fidelity and permanence do not necessarily characterize heterosexual relationships.  The whole thing is just a muddle.  No evidence is adduced; she thinks it so because she thinks it so.  Yes, Katherine, the sex acts of married men and women "can produce children."  What is the logical connection between the two parts of the sentence in which this phrase occurs?  Is it her point that if we agree with her about how babies are made, then we must agree with her about every crazy damn thing she says?  I have a feeling that if she made any sense we'd see that her position is that same-sex marriage, if permitted, will be the cause of things that have already happened.  She might also have to explain why heterosexual septuagenarians who meet at mixers in the community room of housing complexes in Sun City West should not be barred from marrying. 

When Judge Vaughn Walker heard the case of Perry v Brown, the challenge to the successful ballot initiative ("Proposition 8") denying same-sex couples the right to marry in California, he repeatedly begged defenders of the proposition to show evidence, advance an argument, make a case.  They just wouldn't, or couldn't, do it.  They were channeling Katherine Kersten. 

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