《经济学人》:美国佬的幸福婚姻
日期:2011-08-05 11:09

(单词翻译:单击)

Lexington

来克星敦

Connubial bliss in America

美国佬的幸福婚姻

AMERICA is the country, said Alexis de Tocqueville, where the bonds of marriage are most respected and the concept of connubial bliss “has its highest and truest expression.” If the French aristocrat were to revisit America’s capital today, he might at first glance think his observation had withstood the test of time remarkably well. Not content with having in 1996 put a Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) on the statute book, Congress has now begun to hold hearings on a Respect for Marriage Act. Defended, respected: what could possibly ail marriage in America?

法国历史学家、社会学家阿历克西.德.托克维尔说美国是一个最重视婚姻,最能够诠释也最能真实体现婚姻幸福的国家。如果这位法国贵族如今故地重游,可能他一眼就会发现他的观点可谓经住了时间的考验。早在1996年就颁布了<<婚姻保护法>>的议会并不满足,如今又开始对<<尊重婚姻法案>>举行听证会。那么,无论是保护婚姻也好,尊重婚姻也要罢,什么才是让美国的婚姻现状陷入窘境的罪魁祸首呢?

Plenty. As the revisiting Norman would swiftly discover, Americans today are better at quarrelling about what marriage is and who should be allowed to enjoy its benefits than they are at the more demanding work of getting and staying married themselves. The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia points to a widening “marriage gap”. Traditional family values are enjoying a revival among better-educated Americans, but are fraying in the lower middle class and have collapsed among the poor. As for laws “defending” and “respecting” marriage, these are merely weapons in a battle that has rolled back and forth for more than a decade between those who say that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and those who abhor the idea.

个中缘由有很多。若是托克维尔故地重游,他会立马发现,今天的美国更热衷于争论婚姻的含义,争论谁才有资格享受婚姻的权利,并说的头头是道。而对于他们还需要做什么去争取和维系婚姻并不感兴趣。弗吉尼亚大学的国家婚姻工程指出婚姻观念的差距正在不断拉大。传统的家庭价值观在一些受过良好教育的美国公众间又重新兴起,但却在中低等收入阶级中碰壁,而在穷人那儿完全坍塌。至于<<婚姻保护法 >>和<<尊重婚姻法案>>,不过是那些赞成同性婚姻与厌恶同性结合的人之间十多年来,来来回回较量的武器。

So far neither side has scored a decisive victory, though each will occasionally claim one. When it was passed, DOMA looked like a solid victory for enemies of gay marriage. Its aim was to nip moves towards same-sex marriage in the bud by defining marriage as a legal union “between one man and one woman as husband and wife”. It also stipulated that in the event of an individual state making same-sex marriage lawful, no other state needed to respect the rights or claims arising from such a marriage. To buttress this apparently formidable firewall, three dozen states have imposed constitutional or other legal bans.

即使中间有一方会时不时声称自己占了上风,但至今双方并没有获得决定性的胜利。当年的<<婚姻保护法 >>一被通过,就被看作是反同性婚姻者们一次坚实的胜利。这个法案的目的就是要将婚姻在法律上定义为由一男一女结合的夫妻关系,以此将同性婚姻扼杀在萌芽中。法律还规定若某州份使同性婚姻合法化,其他各州份不需要承认在这种同性婚姻下产生的权利或诉求。接着,为了支持这一看似强大的禁令,有36个州份都通过立法或修改宪法来确定它们不认可同性结合。

And yet gay marriage marches on, scoring its own victories along the way. Among the greatest and most recent was New York’s decision last month to become the sixth and most-populous state to allow same-sex marriage. If the Respect for Marriage Act were to become law (though this will need to await a more sympathetic Congress), this would defang DOMA and mark another victory for gay marriage. But DOMA is anyway not the deterrent it once seemed. The ever-cautious Barack Obama, who favours civil unions but says his views on gay marriage are still “evolving”, has ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the law, which is under challenge in the courts.

时至今日,促使同性婚姻合法化的斗争仍在继续,并取得了不小的胜利。最近的一次大胜便是纽约州在上个月通过了同性恋婚姻法,成为了全美第6个也是最有名气的实现同性婚姻合法化的州。如果<<尊重婚姻法案>>也被通过(当然这需要等待一个更加人性化的议会出现),这将是对保护婚姻法案的有力一击,也将预示着同性婚姻合法化运动更深远的胜利。但不管怎样,<<婚姻保护法 >>并不像它表面上那样充满威慑力。支持同性间民事结合的贝拉克.奥巴马一贯小心谨慎,也表示他自己对待同性婚姻的立场正在”演变”,他要求司法部不要再为在法庭上备受争议的<<保护婚姻法案>>辩护。

The relentless back-and-forth in Congress, the courts and state legislatures transfixes the minority of Americans who feel strongly about this issue. And yet the cycle of victories and defeats may in the end matter less than one startling underlying fact, which is that America’s attitudes to homosexuality appear in recent years to have undergone a dramatic change.

议会,法庭 ,州议会间就<<婚姻保护法>>问题的拉锯战让大多数强烈反对同性婚姻的人无计可施。而他们之间轮番的胜败在此刻也显得不那么重要,更重要的是,美国民众对同性恋的态度在最近几年将会发生巨大转变,这是一个令人惊讶的潜在事实。

Gallup reported in May that for the first time ever a majority (53% to 45%) of Americans said that same-sex couples should have the same marriage rights as straight couples. In 1996, the time of DOMA, the majority leant 68% to 27% the other way. The controversial policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, which banned gays from serving openly in the armed forces, is meanwhile due to expire in September with surprisingly little hue and cry. And when National Journal polled political “insiders” this month, it found a majority of Democratic politicos, lobbyists and strategists in favour of making gay marriage legal. No less telling, a majority of their Republican counterparts, while continuing to oppose gay marriage, thought their party should just ignore the issue.

今年五月的盖洛普民意调查第一次显示,大部分美国民众认为同性伴侣应该享有与异性夫妻同等的婚姻权利(53%人支持,45%反对)。1996年<<婚姻保护法>>刚颁布的时候,支持上述说法的只有27%,而反对则的占68%。这项所谓”不得质不问,不说”的颇具争议的禁止同性恋者公开参军法令,将在今年9月份失效。 国家杂志上刊登出对这个月对内部政客意见的调查结果显示,大部分民主党政客,说客,战略家支持同性婚姻合法化。勿需多言,大多数共和党人依然反对同性婚姻,并认为共和党应该直接对同性婚姻问题说,免谈。

That might make electoral sense. Since it is the young who are most relaxed about gay marriage, standing in its path might cost the Republicans dear in the future. The notion of denying gays the spousal rights available to others makes little sense to a generation that sees marriage at least as much as a union of soul-mates as a formal structure for child-rearing.

这可能会直接影响党派在选举上的受欢迎程度。因为现在的年轻人并不在乎到底是异性恋还是同性恋,共和党强力阻拦同性恋只会为自己的前途搁上绊脚石。这一代的年轻人将婚姻视作是灵魂上的伴侣而不仅仅是为传宗接代的名正言顺,因此,异性婚姻有的权利到同性结合上却没有,年轻人对此表示无法理解。

To crusaders against gay marriage, however, the issue transcends electoral calculation. They say they are defending both God’s will and a vital child-centred institution that is already beleaguered enough. In this election cycle, Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman pursuing the Republican presidential nomination, has become a lightning-conductor on gay issues. In spite of having a gay stepsister, she has long put opposition to same-sex marriage at the centre of her politics. In 2004 she likened the gay lifestyle to “personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement”. The fact that her husband runs a clinic offering to cure gays of their supposed affliction has caused both indignation and merriment among metropolitan types.

然而,对于反对同性婚姻的战士们来说,同性婚姻这个问题已经。他们自称既捍卫神的旨意又在捍卫着“以孩子为中心”的重要社会习俗,而这一习俗已是颇受指责。在这次选举周期里,尼苏达州国会女议员米歇尔.巴赫曼是明,为了争取到共和党总统候选人提名奋力角逐,变成了同性恋问题的一把“避雷针”。尽管自己有一个同父异母的姐姐就是同性恋,但她一直以来还是把反对同性婚姻作为自己的核心政治立场。早在2004年,她就将同性恋的生活方式比作 “对个人的束缚,奴役,和折磨的生活”。她的丈夫开了一家诊所,他们为他们所认为饱受同性恋之苦的人们提供治疗,这真是让大城市里的人又爱又恨。

Attitudes like Mrs Bachmann’s may do her little harm with the Republican base, but strike parts of the wider electorate as antiquated or downright bigoted. That may be why Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who ran for the presidency in 2008 and may yet do so again, has warned fellow Republicans to “get the heck out of people’s bedrooms”. It could also explain why Rick Perry, the governor of Texas now pondering a presidential run of his own, says that he has no quarrel with New York’s new law. Pleading the tenth (states’ rights) amendment, he argues that New York’s stand on gay marriage is its own business.

在共和党阵营中,巴赫曼所持的这类看法对她来说并无大碍,可对公众而言,她这种守旧或是彻底顽固不化的形象也让她痛失部分选民的支持,这也许就是前纽约市市长朱利安尼提醒共和党人,别搀和人家房事的原因。朱利安尼曾在2008年参与总统竞选,而这次可能会继续参与对总统职位的角逐。同样这也许是正考虑参选下届总统的德克萨斯州州长裴礼声称自己对于纽约州的同性婚姻法没什么意见的原因。裴礼以《美国宪法第10修正案》(第10修正案保护各州的权利依据认为纽约州对于同性婚姻态度如何是他们自己的事。

In point of fact, neither Mr Giuliani nor Mr Perry favours gay marriage. Mr Giuliani says civil unions are good enough for gays. Mr Perry has not only been a vehement opponent of gay marriage but also gone so far as to defend Texas’s anti-sodomy law, which the Supreme Court has ruled to be unconstitutional. Such men have their beliefs, but they are also seasoned politicians. They can see which way the national mood is blowing.

事实上,朱利安尼和裴礼二人都不赞成同性婚姻。朱利安尼认为民事结合对同性伴侣而言就足够了。而裴礼之前不仅曾强烈反对同性婚姻,甚至还强硬到维护德克萨斯州的《反鸡奸法》,而《反鸡奸法》已被美国最高法院裁定违宪。这些人虽然有自己的见解,但他们也是老道的政客。他们很清楚什么时候该见风使舵,顺应民意。

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重点单词
  • calculationn. 计算
  • decisiveadj. 决定性的
  • minorityn. 少数,少数民族,未成年
  • amendmentn. 改善(正), 修正案,某物质能改善土壤有助生长
  • despairn. 绝望,失望 vi. 失望
  • quarreln. 吵架,争论,怨言 vi. 吵架,争论,挑剔
  • traditionaladj. 传统的
  • claimn. 要求,要求权;主张,断言,声称;要求物 vt. 要
  • formidableadj. 强大的,可怕的,难对付的
  • dramaticadj. 戏剧性的,引人注目的,给人深刻印象的 dram