Jody et al,
To accept gay marriage is to promote individual rights. In the eyes of the law, marriage is a contract. The government exists at least in part to protect contractual relationships among individuals. Why would the government protect straight marriage and not gay marriage? Under traditional Objectivism, I can see no reason for it.
Next, I respect James’ view, but I’m not nor was in favor of moving toward civil unions. They are akin to the 1960’s water fountain for blacks: separate but not equal. Civil Unions do not give couples the same rights as marriage, not anywhere close. Our nation has a long legal history in commonlaw and statutory law that uses marriage as an important factor in determining myriad legal rights. Civil Unions will not bear the same weight. Then again, promulgating civil unions might get us one step closer to accepting gay marriages. It might prove a good strategic step, a temporary loss for long term gain. I’m just not comfortable with that risk.
Last, I’m sympathetic to Steven’s view that it’s wrong for the government to give hand-outs to married couples. After all, under Objectivism, the government shouldn’t be giving hand-outs to anybody, right? But I disagree that under this view we should then resist the current advocacy for gay marriage.
If the government is going to give hand-outs for marriage, it should do so evenhandedly. It should treat similar individuals similarly. This is Aristotle’s first principle of justice, and it is codified in the equal protection clause of our Constitution. In my view, all law – even laws that we think are bad – should be applied evenhandedly. Without such a principle, we risk having the good laws applied haphazardly.
Therefore, if a government hand-out to married individuals makes for bad law, I would not only advocate for its repeal, but I would also advocate for its evenhanded application: allow any mutually consenting couples to marry.