Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Will the Supreme Court Define Love?

The NYT reports that during the arguments about gay marriage in the Supreme Court, Justice Roberts asked, “If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t.  The difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?” 

I think that this is a misleading question because of the word “love.”  Is the love between a man and a woman the same as the love between a man and a man?  At least that is a question that should not be dismissed as obvious.  Almost everyone loves their mother, but should they be allowed to marry their mother?  You can say, no, because their children would be the products of incest, and there is a public interest in preventing incest.  But what if it’s a daughter who wants to marry her mother, or what if the mother and son promise never to have sex.  Is there still a public interest in preventing this union?  There is, because the love between a mother and her children is different from the love between two unrelated people

People also talk about the fact that they”love” ice cream, they love sunny days, they love beautiful music.  People also talk about making love, when they mean that they are having sex.  These “loves” are obviously not the same.  Can the Supreme Court definitively rule that the love between two men is the same as the love between a man and a women?  Can they definitively say that this is love and not lust?  If it is all about finances and hospital visitation, aren’t there other ways to correct those problems without defining “love”? 

Poets, novelists and songwriters have been expounding on love for thousands of years.  Can the Supreme Court do a better job than they did.  Is it irrelevant that there is a lot less poetry about the love between a man and woman than there is about the love between two men?  Does the Supreme Court really know more about love than Shakespeare, John Donne, Jane Austin, the Bronte sisters, Tolstoy or Danielle Steele.  Roberts should think hard before calling Shakespeare and Tolstoy fools.  

No comments: