Reagan on Santorum

Updated
 

by Hardball guest host Ron Reagan

Let me finish tonight with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.

Santorum has lately taken to comparing marriage equality to a choice of paper products. According to his whimsical logic, gay people must not be allowed the same opportunity to wed that straight couples enjoy because, well, “a paper towel is not a napkin.”

If only Santorum’s was a lonely, homophobic voice shrieking in the wilderness. But all the other Republican candidates - whether they choose Bounty or Brawny - have likewise signed on to defend the inappropriately named Defense of Marriage Act, a law designed solely to disenfranchise gay couples.

Even leaving aside the fact that some of us have been known, on occasion, to employ a paper towel as a napkin, it’s an odd, nonsensical comparison.

Santorum’s larger point seems to reflect his discomfort with so-called “traditional” marriage being redefined. But what tradition does he have in mind?

Marriage has, in various times and places throughout history, been treated as a property arrangement with husbands in effect owning their wives as they would cattle. Is that the tradition Santorum seeks to revive? In late 19th Century America, men were entitled to beat their wives as long as they used a stick with a circumference no larger than their thumb - the so-called Rule of Thumb. Does Santorum harbor a yen for corporal punishment?

Of course Santorum and many of his anti-gay colleagues can do a lot better than paper towels. They’re fond of claiming that if gay people were allowed to wed we’d also have to allow polygamy, incest and bestiality.

This assertion is so absurd some people find it difficult to argue against. If you find yourself similarly flummoxed, just point out this very simple distinction:

Laws against polygamy are non-exclusionary. Whether you’re gay or straight, black or white, Christian or Muslim, you can’t be married to more than one person at a time.

Preventing gay people from exercising the same right as their fellow straight citizens creates a separate, unequal class of people. It is exclusionary. That is the only meaningful distinction you need to keep in mind when arguing with people like Santorum.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: it’s impossible to believe that marriage to the person of one’s mutual choosing doesn’t fall into one or more of those categories.  Santorum and his friends, then, might want to consider the meaning of the word “unalienable.”

Rick Santorum

Reagan on Santorum

Updated