Defense seems to be the popular theme among conservatives over the last few years. Defense against threats--real or preceived--has won many elections for the Republicans, and so I guess they're sticking to the "defense" guns on the marriage amendment as well. Even though it's among the weaker arguments the Vote Yes camp can offer.
As I said yesterday there have been weak arguments on both sides. If this amendment is indeed designed to "protect marriage" then folks like me who are Covenant Marriage backers through and through see it as shutting the barn door long after the cows and bulls have married, divorced and otherwise made a mockery of the idea of marriage.
I think if the state wants to "protect" marriage, there is a far easier way. As with everything else, follow the money.
The main reason people want to be in a state-sactioned marriage is the financial benefits. Tax breaks and cheaper health insurance are two of the prime drivers behind the desire to be married in the eyes of the state. Such a union is, in effect, a business partnership.
I've long thought if we were truly interested in preserving the sanctity of marriage through the lens of the state we'd treat the dissolusion of a state marital contract in much the same way we treat the termination of other government-authorised tax shelters.
If you pull money out of your 401(K) early, you have to pay a 20% penalty. To me it stands to reason that if you pull out of your marital contract early (any time prior to the death you've vowed to be coupled until) than you should have to pony up a monetary penalty. You've engaged in a tax shelter with a specific time frame assigned and decided to leave that tax shelter. So why not treat it just the same as an early withdrawl from a 401(k)?
I'll be honest. Folks like me see divorce as a bigger threat to the sanctity of marriage than anything else. Don't get me wrong. I believe there are MANY good reasons--even necessary reasons--for divorce. I think there are many people who are married who should probably get divorced for the health of their entire families. I'm not naive enough to think that all marriages are as perfect as mine. But I do think there are an awful lot of scenarios where people wouldn't get married if they knew an eventual divorce meant owing a large penalty to the federal government.
If we are really serious about Protecting Marriage, I think we'd ponder the graver threats--divorce and financial difficulty--more closely than we seem to be doing now.