Blogs > Liberty and Power > Sniffing Glue with Rick Santorum

Jul 15, 2004 4:46 pm

Sniffing Glue with Rick Santorum

[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]

Senator Rick Santorum, chief supporter of the Federal Marriage Amendment, has said that his effort"was not about hate" but was simply a matter of"doing the right thing for the basic glue that holds society together."

Given Santorum's infamous comparison of homosexuality to pedophilia and bestiality, one may be forgiven for doubting his sincerity when he denies being motivated by prejudice. But suppose we give him the benefit of the doubt, and grant that he was merely seeking to defend society's matrimonial glue. What would one have to believe in order to accept Santorum's position?

First, one would have to believe that marriage in its present form is necessary for the preservation of the social order. But why should anybody believe that? Marriage in its present form -- as a heterosexual, monogamous union of legal equals -- is the exception, not the rule, in history. (Has the Senator read his Bible?)

Second, one would have to believe that allowing homosexual couples to marry would threaten the status of heterosexual marriage. But why would it do so? Is anybody really going to say,"Gee, I was all ready to marry someone of the opposite sex, but now that gay marriage is legal I won't"? If anything, providing recognition of homosexual marriage probably strengthens the institution of heterosexual marriage by reinforcing the legitimacy of marriage per se. (Indeed, one might well think that is a better argument against gay marriage than any Santorum has offered!)

Finally, even if the first two points were to be granted, one would have to believe that government has a right to restrict the free choices of individuals in order to promote socially beneficial institutions -- which amounts to believing that government has the right to enslave the individual for the sake of the collective. It's easy to see how a Communist or a Nazi could accept this third premise. But it's harder to see how Santorum can justify such a collectivist and authoritarian delusion after writing the following words:

To the Founders, these God-given truths -- that"all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights" -- are no more open to discuss or debate than the laws of gravity. They are simply there, part of the created order. And because they are divinely sanctioned, it followed that even if a wicked and depraved majority tried to subvert them in the name of"democracy," the moral minority would be obliged to resist the majority’s wishes in the name of moral truth.
On the issue of gay marriage (and many other issues, of course), Santorum has precisely attempted to organise a"wicked and depraved majority" in a coalition to subvert a minority’s claim to"equal and inalienable rights" -- thereby proving that the principles of ’76 mean more to him as tools of rhetorical manipulation than as genuine living commitments. Happily, in this case God hath brought the counsel of the heathen to naught.

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Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

I agree with Rod on this one. I'd just point out that Santorum is not alone in making the homosexuality=bestiality equation, nor is the equation confined to right-wing gay-bashers. The honors here ought to be shared with people like Peter Singer, who make more or less the same equation, albeit in a different context and to different ends:

I wouldn't say that the equation is equally *offensive* in both contexts (Santorum's is more so than Singer's), but it is ultimately the same equation. I don't think it's a coincidence that both positions involve either a violation of (Santorum) or a rejection of (Singer) Lockean-type rights.

John Arthur Shaffer - 7/15/2004

It was strange to hear someone who claims to be a conservative argue that the government must intervene to stop a runaway culture from further debasing marriage. Not only would this intrusion on liberty be warranted for the children, but I detected Santorum really believes collectivist government action can end the "decline" of heterosexual marriage. What next, government issued scarlet A license plates for adulterers via the federal highway funding program?

Keith Halderman - 7/15/2004

You said that a hetrosexual monogamous union of legal equals is the exception rather rule in history. I would think that with all the children, singles, widows, widowers, and homosexuals that the people you describe above would be in the minority right now. And, if you take into consideration all those who are cheating on their spouses a rather small minority at that.