Vows, marriage and slavery
When I saw the headline that Mitt Romney had refused to sign a “marriage vow” it immediately got my attention. Did this mean he was going to actually support gay marriage, or if not (and more likely) at least not stand opposed?
A group called “The Family Leader” produced and circulated a document called “The Marriage Vow” that they hoped presidential candidates would sign. In addition to many other things, it asks candidates to support a federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman throughout the United States.
Mitt Romney declined to sign the vow. So far, so has Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, and Jon Huntsman.
So who did sign? Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum.
Perhaps if the document was limited solely to dealing with marriage issues more would have signed it.
Weirdly, it introduces the issue of race and slavery into the mix. As you might expect, that has created a shitstorm of controversy. What could slavery possibly have to do with a discussion about the definition of “marriage” here in the year 2011?
The original version of the document is quick to point out (in the very first bullet point) that “a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent-household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
One thing seems certain, at least to me. Some people sure seem to sit around and think a lot about race. An awful lot.
So, what’s their point? That has been the subject of much speculation since this document was released. (Note: The group has since published the “final” version of The Marriage Vow and the bullet point pertaining to slavery has mysteriously disappeared.)
Their factoid about slavery and 1860 may be true, but even if it is, what relevance does that have to a discussion about the definition of marriage in the here and now? It’s not like going back in time to 1860 is possible, right?
Also, it is intellectually dishonest to cherry-pick a single fact to prove that something was better than it is now. Only a complete viewpoint can do that. We have to ask ourselves: Were children born as slaves in 1860 better off than children born to unwed parents since 2008? If anyone answers “yes” to that question, I think it is fair to ask, just what in the name of hell are they advocating.
The fight against gay marriage can sure take some weird twists and turns.