Founding father worship and gay marriage

Today I read this Romney quote on Blag Hag:

“At the time the Constitution was written marriage was between a man and a woman and I don’t believe the Supreme Court has changed that.”

Ah, the whole original intent argument. I grew up on that. Any constitutional question should be referred to the “original intent” of the founding fathers, who wrote it in the first place. I mean, that kind of makes sense, right? Well, not really, actually.

Sure the founding fathers never intended for there to be gay marriage. They held that marriage between a man and a woman in which the woman legally ceases to exist and becomes the literal property of her husband. Funny how people like Romney never complete that statement, huh?

Side note: I get annoyed anytime anyone uses the term “traditional marriage” for just this reason. Traditional marriage has essentially always meant that the husband essentially owns his wife, and that daughters are transferred from fathers to husbands. Furthermore, traditional marriage has always been based on economic necessity and social times between families. This thing we have today, where two people marry for love and companionship, this is new. This is not traditional. At all. And to add to that, traditional marriage has often included husbands taking multiple wives and husbands sleeping with prostitutes or women captured in war. So enough of this whole “traditional marriage” bit!

Back on topic, here’s the thing: Just because the founding fathers thought something does not make it right or true. The founding fathers were just men, sure, smart men, but not magically infallible men.

Exhibit A: The founding fathers were, by and large, perfectly fine with slavery. Many of them owned slaves. I don’t know of anyone today defending slavery, but if you’re going to hold the founding fathers and their intent up as infallible, you sort of have to.

I wonder sometimes about the relationship between believing in the importance of the original intent of the Constitution and believing that the Bible is inerrant and literal. After all, if you view the Bible as an unchanging document and any attempt to say anything was cultural as spitting upon God’s Word, it shouldn’t be that hard to transfer that sort of thinking to the Constitution. It’s an interesting thought, anyway.

So please, Romney, and every other politician, stop trying to defeat gay marriage because at the time the Constitution was written marriage was between a man and a woman. It’s a good think that kind of logic didn’t win out when the civil rights movement and second wave feminism were taking place, or this country would be a very different place. Can we stop caring what a bunch of old dead white guys thought and instead start talking about basic human rights and social justice?

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.