In my last post, I only touched on communitarian thinking because in the context of the FMA, it gets complicated.
The debate over same-sex marriage is hopelessly fraught with communitarian reasoning, which, to my mind, is based on unsupported premises on both sides.
First of all, marriage in the purest sense is not an individual right. It involves the surrender of an individual right in favor of a union between two people. Once married, the two people no longer have the full individual rights they once enjoyed. (There’s a lot of law, religion, and philosophy behind this, but even if readers want to stick to the practical, just ask anyone who’s married if you doubt me!)
Now, while I would tend to see the union as that of two individuals, who should not have to answer to anyone save themselves, many people would disagree, arguing that married people are part of some sort of “community” which is formed by an “institution” of married couples. With the advent of the FMA, this has heated up. Communitarians on the heterosexual, opposite-sex side of the debate tend to argue that the institution of marriage is the backbone of society, while gay communitarians and their supporters often seem to agree with this point, only arguing that same-sex couples must be included within this “institution.”
Identity politics often substitutes for reason, and gay politicians often speak of a “gay community” as some sort of definable, if not monolithic, entity.
I have often asked people to define “gay community” and I have never heard an answer which makes sense. When I am with my friends, I don’t think of them as gay or straight, but as friends. I don’t divide them up into groups that way, and it wouldn’t make sense if I did. Where is this “gay community” I keep reading about in the press? Is it the people who drink in gay bars and maybe hang out, maybe look for someone to take home? I don’t drink in bars, and so I really can’t see that as any sort of community to which I belong. I used to work in the gay bath business (I managed two of them — starting one of them up), and while it offered what many would call a community service, that community consisted largely of people who wanted to have sex and leave. So, for the purposes of drinking, maybe hanging out while drinking, or having sex, baths and bars are communities.
There are also “gay neighborhoods” in various cities, and people of similar tastes do live in them. This could be called a “gay community” — but it could also be called a gay ghetto. I never felt any particular need to live in San Francisco’s Castro district, but I would go there occasionally. It never felt like “my” community. Frankly, I always felt more at home in Berkeley or in the Haight Ashbury, because people didn’t seem as worried about who wanted to do what with their dick. Just more live and let live, but with zero intolerance. I don’t see anything wrong with that. While I have run into more than my share of intolerant types (including people really bothered by homosexuality) I have to say that in the gay neighborhoods, people seemed more concerned with my sexuality than in the live-and-let-live, bohemian-style neighborhoods.
While it is true that with a group of other people I tried to create a community of mostly gay friends, we were not the “gay community” but rather a gay community which shared a similar (mostly anarchistic) outlook. If anything, most of my friends found the Castro scene a tad annoying. Too many fresh-from-Nebraska, newly “out” conformist types trying to define themselves by fitting into someone’s idea of what gay identity politics should be. I have no objection to anyone doing that, either. What I dislike is when they tell me what I should do.
In short, I am extremely distrustful of all communitarian thinking.
And I think the FMA is a massive, central-government-sponsored attempt to induce comformity to communitarian thinking. I said before that I think the president is making a big mistake in supporting it, and I sincerely hope it fails.
That the Constitution — once created to protect people from the tyranny of the federal government — could contain language making “incidents of marriage” a new suspect category (that’s what it does, folks!), is to me a quantum leap in communitarian thinking.
Not marriage! Incidents of marriage!
Not just gays. Not just members of the same sex. All people who don’t marry will see their private relationships placed in a suspect category by the Constitution.
Fortunately, the fact that the Amendment’s scope dwarfs a mere ban on same-sex marriages will help ensure its defeat. However, the scope of the Amendment is still not widely known, as the drafters are engaged in a massive deception calculated to reassure the general public that the text does not say what it says.
To my mind, the deception is even worse than the language itself. (Not a new topic at all; interested readers can read my previous posts here, here, and here.)
I hope Americans are not so stupid as to fall for what strikes me, simply, as (attempted) communitarian tyranny.
Incidentally, my “incidents” are my own business.
I wouldn’t want to have an incident at my own blog!
UPDATE: Might the ostensible purpose of stopping “same sex marriage” be a semi “false flag operation“? Might the following scenario be the real enemy?

Devero and More, who have never been married, are part of a growing number of people who are living together out of wedlock, either as an alternative or precursor to marriage.
Whether you call it shacking up, living in sin or cohabitation, being an unmarried couple has become a societal norm.
“Codes are being broken,” said Chris Ponticelli, assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Florida. “It’s not taboo anymore.”
Researchers attribute much of the increase to the consequences of a liberated society.
There’s a wider acceptance of cohabitation. Women no longer rely on men and marriage for financial security. And many couples fear divorce and view living together as a better, safer option.
“The concept of that piece of paper keeping couples together, they don’t believe it anymore,” Ponticelli said. “We all know someone who has been divorced. It’s a sticky thing to go through.”
Nationally, new U.S. census figures show the number of unmarried couples increased 72 percent from 3.1-million households in 1990 to 5.5-million in 2000. In Florida, the number of unmarried households increased 77 percent in the last decade.
In Hillsborough County, the number of unmarried families increased 73 percent to 26,314, making it the fourth largest population of cohabiting couples in the state, with Monroe County taking the lead.
Unmarried households, including same-sex partnerships, represented 6.7 percent of all households in the county, up from 4.6 percent in 1990. The largest grouping in Hillsborough was married families, at 47.7 percent, followed by singles, at 26.9 percent.
Some conservatives equate the boom in cohabitation to serious societal ills.
“Marriage is the foundation of the family,” said Bridget Maher, marriage and family policy analyst at the conservative Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. “If we have strong and healthy marriages, we’ll have a stronger society.”
Kevin Miller, a minister at Idlewild Baptist Church, said few people seem willing to stand up and do what’s right, putting their spiritual lives at risk.

Typical American unmarried couples like the above would find themselves looking down the barrel of a pretty big gun once that “incidents of marriage” language is inserted into the Constitution. No longer will they be subject merely to unwanted sermons; instead an organized clergy could launch a gigantic movement to push employers, banks, landlords, insurance companies, etc. into using the courts to stop people from “living in sin” (aka “incidents of marriage”).
Social engineering is abhorrent enough. But the deliberate use of the Constitution for such Orwellian purposes as forcing people to marry each other is far worse. Considering the original purpose of the Constitution as a bastion against tyranny, I think the Amendment borders on being unconscionable.
(The Machiavellian in me does not blame them for trying to conceal their goals, of course….)
UPDATE: Unlike this morning, there is quite a fuss now about whether the president in fact supports the Musgrave “incidents” language.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush believes that amendment legislation submitted by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., meets his principles in protecting the “sanctity of marriage” between men and women. But Bush did not specifically embrace any particular legislation.

“I’m now thoroughly confused,” says Glenn Reynolds.
I am too. It’s tough to write long arguments based on constantly-changing “facts” — and I have seen and heard the Musgrave language all day.
(My arguments against the Musgrave language remain the same, though.)
MORE: The New York Times is finally discussing the “ambiguities” of the Musgrave language!