Thursday, October 04, 2007

Christians and hypothetical slavery

by shamanic

Over at Pat Robertson's CBN, David Brody throws out the "gay marriage is equivalent to slavery canard", a particularly weird mental tic that religious conservatives seem to adore.

Here's his argument, based on a comment Fred Thompson made that appears to push a federalist view of the issue:
The millions of religious conservatives who are adamantly for a strict federal marriage amendment believe that marriage IS a one size fits all approach. Thompson is trying the federalism track here but here’s where he gets into trouble. Let’s take slavery for example. Hypothetically, if a state legislature approves slavery and a Governor signs it into law, then “so be it”? Of course not.
Why this is weird is that apparently religious conservatives are unaware that we live in a country governed by a constitution, and that constitution contains the following amendment, ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

As I said, it's a canard. There's no "so be it" involved. In the aftermath of the bloodiest war in our history we collectively agreed that, in Brody's terms, slavery trumps the federalism argument.

There is no such consensus on gay marriage, nor can two people building a life together, with all the trials and tribulations and joys that entails, be compared to the vile and exploitative condition of legalized slavery.

I suppose I should mention that Brody's piece follows hot on the heels of his "Rudy is pro-life!" piece, and is more of a dog whistle attack on Thompson than anything. Still, I would like to see the slavery comparisons stop. Slavery was prohibited for many good reasons, but I suspect at the bottom of it all is the brilliant truth that it is fundamentally at odds with the notion of a free society. Choosing the person with whom you'll share your life is a notion so perfectly meshed in the American DNA that it's hard to see how there's any concern about this at all.

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