Today Mickey Kaus points to a book from 1978 that demonstrates what he calls an 'eerie prescience.' The book's thesis is...
...that control of politics has passed out of the hands of the majority in part as a consequence of the development of a body he identifies as "the new elite", whose self identity is based not on ties to a specific community, but on a common reference to "scientific" measurement of intelectual capacity by grade scores and class achievements. This, he contends, drives an anti-majoritarian urge, which removes control from the hands of the electorate. The "new elites" do not accept the principle that all others are entitled to a valid and meaningful vote on issues which concern all of society.Indeed. So today, we have a ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by a democratic majority.
The Court finds that neither Congress' claimed legislative justifications nor any of the proposed reasons proffered by BLAG constitute bases rationally related to any of the alleged governmental interests. Further, after concluding that neither the law nor the record can sustain any of the interests suggested, the Court, having tried on its own, cannot conceive of any additional interests that DOMA might further....
Prejudice, we are beginning to understand, rises not from malice or hostile animus alone. It may result as well from insensitivity caused by simple want of careful, rational reflection or from some instinctive mechanism to guard against people who appear to be different in some respects from ourselves.This is not the first time we've talked about this claim that there is "no rational basis" for this definition of marriage. I remain astonished by the claim, however, because this definition of marriage is backed by a huge amount of rational argument, with a history of hundreds of years. Just last fall, we looked at Aquinas' arguments on whether matrimony arises from natural law.
Let's make two points about this.
1) Note the list of citations in the series of sophisticated arguments offered. The principle cited sources are Cicero and Aristotle, from works on ethics, rhetoric, and politics. There is only one Catholic text cited, and it's offered as an example of an argument Aquinas rejects. This underlines the point -- recently made to the German parliament -- that natural law theory is not a Christian but a secular philosophy, one that arises chiefly from the Stoics but also from Aristotle.
2) Aquinas follows Aristotle and Boethius in defining humanity in terms of its rational nature. "A person is an individual substance of rational nature."
My point here is not that Aquinas' definition is right, or impossible to argue against, or that you should personally adopt it. It is that the claim that this definition is without a rational basis is indefensible. It is simply impossible to sustain that argument.
How much easier, though, to assert it! How much easier to declare that the problem is "a simple want of careful, rational reflection" -- and that of a tradition founded on Aristotle, Aquinas, Cicero, Boethius, and the Stoics!