My former student: On Gay Marriage. I don’t mind it because it isn’t a bother. I see it from a business perspective. More couples (MM MF FF) will be getting married, so that means more businesses will make money. Like DJs, florists, caterers, limo companies, wedding planners. Look at it at that angle! Even places like Walmart and Target, Safeway/Vons, Fry’s/Alberston’s/Lucky’s will be in business for parties and events like these. Look at it like that!
Me: While I appreciate your support for marriage equality, I’m not sure I agree that civil rights issues should be dissected in purely capitalist terms. There’s a reason countries need governance: It is dangerous to leave civil rights to the discretion of markets (which may distort what society ought to value).
It sounds to me like you’re saying if gay marriage weren’t profitable, it would cease to be a right. And that seems incorrect to me. Because rights should stand on normative (ethical) premises – that is, claims to what people naturally DESERVE rather than whether these rights will lead to material commodities. For instance, surely you wouldn’t claim that it’s okay for people to beat you up against your will if America paid big bucks to see you assaulted on television. Why? Because regardless of whether it leads to profit, ASSAULT IS WRONG. (Boxing and wrestling are different, since they involve willing participants.)
By the same token, I believe marriage equality is a right. I believe it is fundamentally unjust to deny the goose what is good for the gander. If florists and caterers and Walmartson’s find a way to milk it clean, good for them. But that’s not the point. Because a right is a right even if Safeway and Target can’t put their hands in the pile.