According to an AP Story which the Post ran yesterday, many couples are using the penultimate paragraph of Anthony Kennedy’s Obergefell decision in their ceremony readings. Apparently, many regard this paragraph to be the Epithalamium, the “marriage” poem of our time. But we should be wary of poems. Thinkers from Plato to H.L. Mencken have warned us that Poetry’s power to dazzle is also its power to deceive, and the penultimate paragraph of Obergefell is certainly dazzling. Apart from its dazzle, however, it is simply nonsense.
Kennedy claims that no union is more profound than “marriage”. How does he support this claim? He simply asserts without argument that “marriage” “embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.” This is just piffle. This does not separate the profundity of “marriage” from other relationships at all. One can easily say--and philosophers throughout the centuries have, in fact, said—that friendship embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, and sacrifice. But I’m omitting “family”. I don’t have to. If we can re-define “marriage”, I don’t see why we can’t redefine “family” as well. “Family” is simply a cognate of “familiar” and friends are familiar with each other. Close friends are very familiar with each other, often more familiar than many spouses. So, it can easily be said that friendship, too, embodies the highest ideals of “family”, thereby completely undermining Kennedy’s claim of the uniqueness of "marriage’s" profundities.
Furthermore, Kennedy’s claim about the profundities of "marriage" shows how utterly clueless he is to the arguments for “marriage equality” that have been rammed down our throats this past decade. “Marriage equality” advocates have argued ad nauseam that “marriage” can’t be about what marriage law does not require. Marriage law does not require that the couple procreate, therefore, marriage cannot be about procreation. Marriage law does not require that the couple be fertile, so marriage cannot even be about the potential to procreate. Marriage law does not require the act of coitus or even the ability to perform coitus, therefore, marriage cannot be about encouraging the responsible use of coitus, and so on. And yet Anthony Kennedy in his decision ignores all this and rambles on about the ideals of marriage: love, fidelity, devotion, etc. When a couple applies for a marriage license, does the clerk have them take a “love test”, a “fidelity test”, does the clerk require a demonstration of devotion or sacrifice? No, and so if marriage law does not require it, then it cannot be necessary in any way for a valid civil “marriage”. All that "marriage" law now requires for a valid “marriage” is two consenting adults to sign an application to enter into a financial contract. That’s it, and so all of Kennedy’s blather about love and fidelity and endurance past death is as irrelevant as the insistence by all those stupid, illogical Bible-thumping bigots of the connection between marriage and procreation. “Marriage” is now nothing more than a business contract between two consenting adults, and there is absolutely nothing uniquely profound about that, Kennedy’s purple prose notwithstanding. It is as banal and as humdrum as any business contract is.