There are so many excellent resources available on the web for everyone to learn the facts about the debate over whether we should redefine (and in fact destroy) marriage. I’ve linked to many articles and videos here, and below is an excellent series running right now on Townhall.com. Happy Valentine’s Day and please help spread the word.
The Opposite of the Civil Rights Movement
Those who remember the old version of the SAT might recall the analogy section: “This is to that as that is to this.”
The SAT no longer requires students to demonstrate aptitude in reasoning through this vital cognitive exercise—unfortunate because so many Americans find it difficult to recognize false analogies. And no group has exploited this deficiency more than politicians.
Adam Cohen observed in a 2005 New York Times piece: “Intentionally misleading comparisons are becoming the dominant mode of public discourse. The ability to tell true analogies from false ones has never been more important.” But judging from the current political rhetoric used by advocates seeking to redefine marriage for the culture, misleading comparisons predominate the discourse.
Democratic Debate on Marriage Better Than Judicial Commands
Not content with government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” some have brought their case for same-sex marriage to the courts and asked them to overturn the policy of states such as California—where the people voted to affirm man-woman marriage’s benefits to society, not just once, but twice in an eight-year span.
These advocates lean upon a constitutional interpretation that requires the fundamental redefinition of marriage in a manner, not only unknown in the record of human history until a few short years ago, but also in a way that does not provide the unique benefits that marriage has offered to society for millennia.
Marriage is the only institution that is essential to the future of humanity. Both men and women are necessary to propagate the human race—providing the economic base with which to further society. This is why marriage is society’s time-tested way to bless as many children as possible with both a mom and a dad in a stable environment. When children are deprived of mothers or fathers, not only do children suffer, society suffers as well.
The Goodness of Marriage
G.K. Chesterton observed in The Superstition of Divorce that “reformers of marriage . . . do not know what it is, or what it is meant to be, or what its supporters suppose it to be . . . .” Marriage opponents, who today seek not to reform but rather redefine marriage, appear to suffer from the problem diagnosed by Chesterton almost a century ago.
In their heedless rush to establish the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, they ignore what marriage is and what marriage does.
Marriage between a man and a woman is a universal good that diverse cultures and faiths have honored and relied upon throughout history. An organic phenomenon of human society without parallel, it has emerged spontaneously and instinctively, as if in answer to a deep and abiding human need for order and stability.
[U]ntil very recently, no government in human history has ever officially recognized same-sex relationships as marriages, precisely because they do not further society’s important interest in the natural procreation of the next generation of citizens.
Same-sex marriage does not provide the same benefits or solve the problems that marriage does. In fact, at a time when our marriage culture is already in severe distress, a redefinition of marriage offers only uncertainty and consequences that will not be fully known for some time.
Usher In A Redefinition of Marriage, Usher Out Religious Liberty
Disagreements and projections abound in the dialogue about marriage and its redefinition to include same-sex couples. But both sides agree on one issue: redefining marriage significantly jeopardizes religious freedom—the first liberty upon which our nation was founded.
The convergence of several factors creates this unavoidable clash between religious liberty and redefining marriage. First, the vast majority of religious adherents in America believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. And because marriage is a core component of religious convictions—indeed, many spiritual traditions treat it as a holy sacrament—people of faith are not likely to change or disregard their views on this central question of conscience.
Second, marriage permeates our law and culture. Thus countless situations will require all citizens, including those who are religious, to affirm or facilitate a fundamentally redefined understanding of marriage.
Third, if the government declares that same-sex unions and opposite-sex unions equally constitute marriages, the law punishes and stigmatizes as “discriminatory” and “irrational” those who publicly espouse a view or conduct themselves in a manner that adheres to the traditional understanding of marriage.
Marriage: A Relationship Unlike Any Other
Many of us will recall the song from Sesame Street that begins, “One of these things is not like the other.” The song conveyed to viewers that not everything, or every relationship, is the same; we have different capabilities and purposes.
The government routinely sings this song as it recognizes and seeks to support certain relationships based on their uniqueness, their distinctive purpose, or their benefit to society.
One such relationship that is unlike any other is marriage.
Marriage is the unique relationship between a man and a woman—a relationship recognized throughout human history and by diverse cultures and faiths. Marriage distinguishes itself from any other because it unites the distinct and uniquely wonderful differences of men and women to bring forth and nurture society’s next generation.
While many relationships exist, the union of a man and a woman is unlike any other as no other relationship joins its participants as one united whole to create a new person. No other relationship is similarly situated in this special way.
Redefining Marriage Raises Concerns For Children and Society
Much of the debate surrounding same-sex marriage asks about societal harms. Many advocates of the change quickly dismiss the question and insist that a redefinition of marriage won’t hurt anyone. But that conclusion proceeds from a misperception about what marriage is—a failure to grasp marriage’s role as a public institution that shapes our thoughts and actions.
Marriage is not merely a legal arrangement that bestows various benefits and obligations on its participants. It is a vibrant social institution whose norms (that is, shared public expectations)—such as exclusivity in sex, permanence in commitment, and procreative in form—make up much of our social fabric. Altering marriage’s core definition will inevitably change the public’s understanding of the institution and, in so doing, affect society’s acceptance of the cultural norms associated with it.
Advocates of redefining marriage agree that so doing will drastically alter the public’s views about marriage. Professor Nancy Cott, a supporter of same-sex marriage, acknowledges that that redefining marriage would definitely have “an impact on the social meaning of marriage” and that changing the public meaning of marriage would unquestionably have “real world consequences.”