The “Defense of Marriage Act” was making its way through Congress as these lines were being written. Having passed the House, the debate was turned, by the “good” offices of Senator Edward Kennedy, into a joint defense of marriage and homosexual rights bill. Gay activists were exultant that their concerns were getting a hearing in the august body known as the Senate. The Defense of Marriage Act was passed, 84 to 14; the proposal to create new federal civil rights for homosexuals narrowly failed, 50 to 49. The attempt to turn the “defense of marriage” debate into a vehicle for federalizing gay rights is a further example of the inability of the federal government to do even just one good thing without attaching at least one bad or even worse thing to it.

The old Book of Common Prayer (Episcopal) and the Book of Common Worship (Presbyterian) refer to marriage as “an honorable Estate, established by God, regulated by His commandments.” The Chicago Tribune, which has gradually degenerated from its self-styled role as “the world’s greatest newspaper” to serving as a public relations organ for cultural degeneration, headlined its report on the Defense of Marriage Act, “Gay couples lose bid for recognition.” It smirked at the impassioned “oration” of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, sounding like a country preacher in defending the wisdom of five millennia, and commented, favorably it seems, on Senator Edward Kennedy for saying that the attached gay rights provision, which narrowly failed, is the last goal that needs to be achieved by the civil rightists. Senator Kennedy seems to be doing his best to make Washington resemble the Rome which Tacitus described, a cesspool to which all that is vile and corrupt in the universe flows.

For the Tribune, the vote was not a victory for traditional morality, natural and common law, and common-sense language, but a defeat for “gay couples.” It’s as though legislation to ban tobacco smoking without explicitly protecting marijuana smokers were characterized most of all as a defeat for marijuana users. Its front-page color photo showed a circle of what it called “Gay Christians” praying in front of the Supreme Court building, making it plain that the hopes of those who would remake all society in their own image rest on the unelected magnates who make the rules, the Justices of the High Court. The courts may well decide to define a relationship between two men or two women as “marriage,” as the zealots of “rights” and “diversity” stridently demand, but they will not make it marriage, any more than a decision by the Supreme Court declaring that all dogs are legally cats would help the pooches to climb trees.