Denigrating Marriage to Save It?

At a rally for gay conservatives, Ann Coulter walks a dangerous line: she states that marriage is not a civil right, at least not one that can be won for minority groups other than race groups.

Legally, this is defensible: she’s squashing equal protection logic into a due process framework, and in so doing, cutting out any due process right to the institution. Conservative legal scholars regularly take this position, because the only contrary statement, in the closing lines of Loving v. Virginia, is just dicta.

But I wonder if this is an argument conservatives should want to win. There’s some contradiction in a movement that trashes marriage as not worthy of due process protection in court, and then, to the public, praises its singular quality as a social institution, and the related need to protect it.

Maybe arguing marriage’s virtue has become, from the right’s perspective, dangerous. If we valorize marriage as the powerful, profoundly positive institution it is, who wants to be seen to turn around and deny it, to anyone? The days of public contempt for gays are (largely) behind us. They’re our friends, our colleagues, and our neighbors. As that spirit wanes, and we recognize that gay men & women are, well, human, the strength of the emotional case for gay marriage waxes. Given that trend, the Dan Squadrons of the world eventually triumph:

Or so we hope.


  1. I wonder if by saying that marriage is not a ‘civil right’ what she is actually saying is that sexual orientation is not likely to be declared a protected class.

    Regardless, I agree though that it isn’t a civil right (I’ve even heard gay acquaintances go so far as to call it a human right). There’s no Consitutional obligation to allow people to marry. It’s a state-created institution with arbitrary admissions criteria. No different than a driver’s license.

    1. So you wouldn’t have a problem if a state goverment decided to declare all marriages illegal and dissolved as of next Monday?

      1. Of course I wouldn’t like it, but my personel feelings do not dictate the existence of a civil right. I like driving and would be bummed if I couldn’t but I don’t consider my license a civil right.

    2. As you did reference, there is a precedent of marriage as a right protected by the constitution, “Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. “

      “The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

      Personally, I don’t really think it’s such a “basic” human right since it’s a contrived institution, yet recognize that there is legal precedent that the United States consider it so.

      1. Opps, didn’t really mean to reply to Mike.

        1. At this point the userbase has adhoc’d the comment system here to prevent over-indentation. At least as far as I can detect…

          1. Leaving comments that are nested properly is tricky. I think Ames’ comments rarely nest because he replies as an admin and doesn’t reply directly to the comment itself. That’s why his replies never indent.

            …or he’s just a sloppy New Yorker.

  2. Ah. Probably the sloppiness. I don’t nest when I think the reply itself could constitute a separate discussion, or sufficiently answers the previous comment that it should be replied to itself. That’s my way of rationalizing avoidance of overnesting :)

    1. I’m really random with it, I usually just go one nest up in the reply, just to avoid getting to the ubersmall box.

      1. I try to on-the-ball with nesting from my experience with other blogs (and this one) where there might be 75 plus comments on a post. If the boxes get o small I just move to the bottom and make sure I refer to whomever I am replying to.

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