And you think this is a virtue?

It’s not online, but Leesburg Today has a piece on a recent Community Levee Association essay contest, and the winning essay is on their site. CLA president Chris Stevenson tells the Leesburg Today “we thought there were pretty good deep insights into marriage, especially for a 12th grader.” The author makes a strong case for the emotional difference between marriage and something that falls short, disputing the idea “that cohabitation is a reasonable substitution for marriage.”

Stevenson also said [author Bronwen] Hale created an interesting analogy about marriage – she compared choosing between being married and cohabitating with the decision to rent or buy.

It’s a good insight. The lifetime commitment and social support implied by marriage does matter. There’s more motivation to invest in and work hard to maintain something one “owns,” and I couldn’t agree more that “happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.”

These things are exactly the reason I consider myself to be a marriage conservative.

I agree with Chris, this is an interesting analogy – just not for the reason that he thinks. The irony is that an entire category of people is prohibited from marriage, and by law may only “cohabitate” – and the CLA takes a position in favor of this prohibition. Imagine if any group was singled out and prohibited by law from owning property, and only permitted to rent. This is known as discrimination, and it violates the clear language of the 14th Amendment. Not only that, it works directly in opposition to the virtues of stability and commitment, (in CLA’s words “virtues that strengthen community”), and makes those things seem less valued. The prohibition has the opposite of the intended effect, but the CLA doesn’t see this yet.

There’s nothing in the essay indicating that the author agrees or disagrees with the CLA’s pro-discrimination position, and given recent trends it’s hard to predict – but it’s unlikely she would have won had she expressed such disagreement. Presumed discrimination is an odd thing to find virtuous, and it’s getting harder and harder for people to accept.

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