NYTimes.com Article: Op-Ed Columnist: Marriage: Mix and Match

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Dear Everyone,

A nicely written op-ed piece on the gay marriage debate. With a point being made about adultery I had made in humor in a previous post where adultery should be banned.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian


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Op-Ed Columnist: Marriage: Mix and Match

March 3, 2004

Shakespeare's "Othello" used to be among the hardest plays
to stage in America. Although the actors playing Othello
were white, they wore dark makeup, so audiences felt
"disgust and horror," as Abigail Adams said. She wrote, "My
whole soul shuddered whenever I saw the sooty heretic Moor
touch the fair Desdemona."

Not until 1942, when Paul Robeson took the role, did a
major American performance use a black actor as Othello.
Even then, Broadway theaters initially refused to
accommodate such a production.

Fortunately, we did not enshrine our "disgust and horror"
in the Constitution - but we could have. Long before
President Bush's call for a "constitutional amendment
protecting marriage," Representative Seaborn Roddenberry of
Georgia proposed an amendment that he said would uphold the
sanctity of marriage.

Mr. Roddenberry's proposed amendment, in December 1912,
stated, "Intermarriage between Negroes or persons of color
and Caucasians . . . is forever prohibited." He took this
action, he said, because some states were permitting
marriages that were "abhorrent and repugnant," and he aimed
to "exterminate now this debasing, ultrademoralizing,
un-American and inhuman leprosy."

"Let this condition go on if you will," Mr. Roddenberry
warned. "At some day, perhaps remote, it will be a question
always whether or not the solemnizing of matrimony in the
North is between two descendants of our Anglo-Saxon fathers
and mothers or whether it be of a mixed blood descended
from the orangutan-trodden shores of far-off Africa." (His
zoology was off: orangutans come from Asia, not Africa.)

In Mr. Bush's call for action last week, he argued that the
drastic step of a constitutional amendment is necessary
because "marriage cannot be severed from its cultural,
religious and natural roots without weakening the good
influence of society." Mr. Roddenberry also worried about
the risks ahead: "This slavery of white women to black
beasts will bring this nation to a conflict as fatal and as
bloody as ever reddened the soil of Virginia."

That early effort to amend the Constitution arose after a
black boxer, Jack Johnson, ostentatiously consorted with
white women. "A blot on our civilization," the governor of
New York fretted.

In the last half-century, there has been a stunning change
in racial attitudes. All but nine states banned interracial
marriages at one time, and in 1958, a poll found that 96
percent of whites disapproved of marriages between blacks
and whites. Yet in 1997, 77 percent approved. (A personal
note: my wife is Chinese-American, and I heartily recommend

Mr. Bush is an indicator of a similar revolution in views -
toward homosexuality - but one that is still unfolding. In
1994, Mr. Bush supported a Texas antisodomy law that let
the police arrest gays in their own homes. Now the Bushes
have gay friends, and Mr. Bush appoints gays to office
without worrying that he will turn into a pillar of salt.

Social conservatives like Mr. Bush are right in saying that
marriage is "the most fundamental institution in
civilization." So we should extend it to America's gay
minority - just as marriage was earlier extended from
Europe's aristocrats to the masses.

Conservatives can fairly protest that the gay marriage
issue should be decided by a political process, not by
unelected judges. But there is a political process under
way: state legislatures can bar the recognition of gay
marriages registered in Sodom-on-the-Charles, Mass., or
anywhere else. The Defense of Marriage Act specifically
gives states that authority.

Yet the Defense of Marriage Act is itself a reminder of the
difficulties of achieving morality through legislation. It
was, as Slate noted, written by the thrice-married
Representative Bob Barr and signed by the philandering Bill
Clinton. It's less a monument to fidelity than to

If we're serious about constitutional remedies for marital
breakdowns, we could adopt an amendment criminalizing
adultery. Zamfara, a state in northern Nigeria, has had
success in reducing AIDS, prostitution and extramarital
affairs by sentencing adulterers to be stoned to death.

Short of that, it seems to me that the best way to preserve
the sanctity of American marriage is for us all to spend
less time fretting about other people's marriages - and
more time improving our own.��


I noticed this one too. Btw, the latest issues of The New Yorker and News Week contain several pro-gay marriage articles (and no negative ones).

-- Steve