On Television: Gay Marriage, Polygamy, And The Confederate Flag

I was happy to be a part of Chris Berg’s weekly roundtable discussion on 6:30 Point of View this evening and, much as we have all week, we’ve discussed gay marriage and the confederate flag issue. The other panelists were Scott Hennen and former state lawmaker Bette Grande.

Our most heated discussion, without a doubt, surrounded the story I broke about Rep. Dwight Keifert’s decision to call homosexuals mentally ill on the day of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Hennen and Grande skirted the question of whether or not they believe homosexuals are mentally ill, and took exception to my assertion that Keifert made his comments to wound gays.

But I think that’s accurate. Keifert now claims that his comments were taken out of context, and that he was just trying to start a discussion about homosexuality and mental illness, but that’s a little hard to believe. His original Facebook post, to me, always read as someone angered by the Supreme Court ruling and looking to lash out.

…yes the government should be out of the marriage licensing business. Other than using licensing as a mechanism to restrict marriage, there’s no utility in it.

We also discussed whether or not the government out to be licensing marriages at all. That’s a popular position among those of us who lean libertarian – Senator Rand Paul took that position after the SCOTUS ruling – and I have two points to make about it.

First, I’m not sure it’s enough to say that the government should get out of marriage. If the government is going to license marriages, I don’t see why the government should be restricting that licensing to one religious definition of what marriage is.

But second, yes the government should be out of the marriage licensing business. Other than using licensing as a mechanism to restrict marriage, there’s no utility in it. Some say we need marriage licensing to address the property and custody disputes which result from divorces, but the courts have to address those issues even with people who had children together or mingled their finances anyway.

We should leave the definition of marriage to the people and their various churches and social constructs.

By the way, the issue of polygamy came up, and that’s always been a stalking horse for those opposing gay marriage. “If we allow gay marriage,” they say, “polygamy will be next.”

They were right, of course. Already a polygamist family in Montana has applied for a marriage license in that state and is prepared to sue if they’re denied it. But so what? If everyone in a polygamous relationship is an adult, and involved in it of their own free will, what’s the problem?

Some see it is immoral – I can tell you it’s not a lifestyle I’d choose for myself – but adults should be allowed to choose how they want to live their lives. If polygamists aren’t allowed to live out in the open they’ll continue to live in the shadows. And that’s a good way to ensure that people get hurt and abused.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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