By Laurie Higgins, DSA Director | Illinois Family Institute
Does anyone stop and think about why the government is involved in marriage at all? Some clarity on this issue may prevent the culture-destroying institutionalization of same-sex civil unions and their inevitable successor same-sex marriage-well, both clarity and courage will be necessary.
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The government has one concern with marriage. The government seeks to support that institution that best serves the needs of the state. Our government, which reflects the collective wisdom and will of its citizenry, has rightly determined that the institution that best serves the needs of a healthy society is that which best serves the needs of children who are essential to the future success of any nation. And what best serves the needs of children is to be raised, when possible, by their biological parents.
As David Blankenhorn writes in The Future of Marriage, "In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from the union are-and are understood to be-emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents."
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The fact that marriage is inextricably bound up in contractual obligations, often pertaining to financial issues, reflects the government's interest in protecting and preserving the natural family. The government has no legitimate interest in whether marital partners love each other. If the sole purpose of marriage were to publicly recognize, institutionalize, or solemnize sexual attraction and/or emotional affiliation, the government would have no business being involved with marriage at all. The government has no vested interest in whether marital partners love each other. If society is going to regain a proper understanding of marriage, citizens must be disabused of the notion that the government's involvement in marriage has anything to do with sanctioning love.
If we continue down a path toward legalized civil unions or domestic partnerships, which are based on the fundamental error that the purpose of governmental involvement in marriage is to recognize love, we will end up with polygamy and polyandry. If we accept as true the erroneous claim that government is involved in marriage in order to publicly sanction love and that government-sanctioned marriage is only peripherally or incidentally concerned with procreation and child-rearing, then there is no justification for prohibiting any people who love each other from marrying.
What prompts this discussion is a New York Times op-ed piece co-written by David Blankenhorn, a Democrat and defender of traditional marriage, and homosexual activist Jonathan Rauch. In the article, they propose a compromise between marriage traditionalists and homosexualists who seek a complete redefinition of marriage. The compromise is this:
"Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.
There are two critical problems with this proposal:
First, there is no reason for the government to provide institutional recognition to same-sex civil unions in that they contribute nothing beneficial to the common good. Do not misunderstand that statement: I did not say that those who self-identify as homosexual contribute nothing beneficial to the common good. They unequivocally do. Rather, homosexual unions per se are destructive to the common good. Even the tragic fact that homosexual couples are procuring children via ethically dubious means should not compel the state to redefine the institution of marriage to accommodate this perverse reality.
Second, homosexualists will not for very long accept this compromise. In fact, some will not accept it even in the short- term. Alex Blaze, managing editor of The Bilerico Project, which according to the The Washington Post is a "must read" "in the gay political blogosphere," writes the following deeply troubling response:
"How in the world is that a compromise? It sounds a lot more like rolling over on our backs and letting the Religious Right have 90% of what they want. . . . their proposal asks us to support civil unions under the condition that "robust" right of conscience protections are given to religious organizations.
"Same-sex marriage is already the compromise position. Civil unions is (sic) a compromise between that and what the right wants: no recognition of same-sex couples at all. Throwing in the right of conscience exemption is just another way for the left on this issue to cave in to the right, moving the debate further in their direction. Moreover, right of conscience rules are a huge regression for liberals, not a step in the right direction.
"Right of conscience rules exist already in many states so that doctors can refuse medical treatment to women based on their personal morality, and which the Bush Department of Health and Human Services further expanded towards the end of his lame duck period by allowing pretty much anyone who works in a clinic to refuse anything they deem to be abortion (which includes contraception).
"These rules are based on the idea that the far-right is in the process of entrenching that if you really, really don't want to follow a law, you don't have to. And if you're a church, the government shouldn't be able to make you do anything. It's a way of expanding their power and getting us all used to the idea that religious organizations (specifically their religious organizations) are above the law."
Blankenhorn and Rauch consider the possibility that without the religious-conscience exemption, "a church auxiliary or charity [may be told] it must grant spousal benefits to a secretary who marries her same-sex partner or else face legal penalties for discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status," to which Blaze responds:
"OMFG THE HORROR! A church might be expected to help someone get medical help. What kind of world do we live in where fine, upstanding religious folks are expected to take part in such filthy acts like paying for their employees' families health care?"
In a fit of pique, Blaze ends in a blaze of inglorious and discomfiting words about marriage traditionalists and compromise:
"They're homophobic and think that society will fall apart if homosexual relationships are recognized by the government. They're also Randian, free market fetishists who like to keep us, and everything related to the decline of Rockefeller-esque nuclear families, as a scapegoat for everything wrong in society so that people don't notice what rich folks are doing to shore up wealth.
"And their followers are all too ready to fall in line. The best way to go is to push for civil unions first, as well as for the expansion of many of the rights of marriage to include many relationships outside of marriage.
"But thinking that a right of conscience exemption has to come with civil unions is absurd. Even statistics Rauch and Blankenhorn cite show that support for civil unions is high enough to get them passed. There's no need to further expand right of conscience rules and further normalize the idea that churches don't have to follow the same rules the rest of us rubes have to follow.
"There's no need for this kind of compromise."
Oddly, Blaze and IFI are in agreement: this portentous "compromise" should be uncompromisingly rejected.
Read the Opposing Views debate, "Should Same-Sex Marriage be Legal?"
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