Ohio Senator Portman, a supporter of DOMA, has come out in favor of gay marriage. This reversal of principle about marriage is apparently rooted in the relative in that his change of mind comes about because of a relative: his son. He also suggests that Republicans cannot hope to attract the votes of the young unless they cave on principle in this matter. He offers this salve to conservative conscience:
We conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in peoples lives. We also consider the family unit to be the fundamental building block of society. We should encourage people to make long-term commitments to each other and build families, so as to foster strong, stable communities and promote personal responsibility.
That begs the question that homosexual unions are family-building entities. Do we have to accept the premise because it is popular? The young have experienced considerable propaganda about the goodness of homosexuality; the entertainment industry made it a verity that there was great wisdom in same-sex unions, despite sociological and medical evidence to the contrary. Portman offers this,
It is understandable to feel cautious about making a major change to such an important social institution, but the experience of the past decade shows us that marriage for same-sex couples has not undercut traditional marriage. In fact, over the past 10 years, the national divorce rate has declined.
Hooray for a declining divorce rate, but it exists mainly because of a decline in marriage, not because marriage has been strengthened. There are many factors in the decline of marriage and the arguments for gay marriage can certainly be factored into the decline. We do not ensure social stability by saying that anything goes.
What is important about morality is that things are moral because they have been proven better over generations, not simply by the fiat of tradition. Especially true is that behaviors are not right simply because people we love do them. The state of Portman’s son’s sexuality has nothing to do with what is right for society. If his son were a womanizer who had many children by many different women, do you suppose Portman would promote polygamy so his son could marry all of those women and make “honest women” of them and save his grandchildren from the stigma of illegitimacy? I don’t think so. Anyone following his heart when it means ignoring his head becomes muddled; we want to love our children whatever they do. We do love, despite what they do, but that does not mean we must condone what they do. Portman has fallen prey to relativism, as the word can be variously understood.