Marriage between a man and a woman has been the paradigm, the bedrock social institution of diverse cultures and civilizations for all of recorded human history. Nevertheless, on Tuesday, the radical experiment that began in Massachusetts will reach the US Supreme Court when it hears oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The legal precedent is clear in that the Court has already ruled on two occasions that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Murphy v. Ramsey affirmed the federal government’s right to ban polygamy and in Baker v. Nelson, the Court declined to find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
As for DOMA, the federal government has a valid reason for recognizing marriage between a man and a woman because it benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is the one and only social institution centered on the total well-being of children. Granted, not every marriage produces children, but the vast majority of marriages do. Conversely, every child has a biological mother and father who, when married, form the single best environment for raising a child. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, most recently The New Family Structures Study by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas-Austin and the census data report released in the highly respected journal Demography, confirm that children do best when raised by a married mother and father. That is why throughout history governments have promoted and incentivized the marriage union of husband and wife to produce healthy, natural families for the common good today and for future generations.
Regarding Proposition 8, the citizens of California have every right to vote on the definition of marriage, a right denied to voters here in Massachusetts. Californians chose to affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Government has a compelling interest in affirming marriage, but the institution and its definition predate the development of government. Therefore, marriage is something that government must recognize, but cannot redefine. Over 54 million Americans in 34 states understand this timeless truth, and have voted “yes” to marriage being one man and one woman. Forty-one states have affirmed marriage by that definition through constitutional amendments and laws. Only the people, not the government or the courts, have the fundamental right to make such decisions about the institution of marriage.
Proponents of same sex marriage use the rhetoric of the civil rights era, but their cause is based ultimately on affirming their distinct behavior, not general equality. Moreover, same-sex marriage proponents argue that sexual preference should be a protected class in the eyes of the law. But the Supreme Court criteria for a protected class is that they must be economically deprived, politically powerless and have immutable characteristics, none of which apply to the wealth, political power and lifestyle choices of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community.
Finally, redefining marriage would put a new principle into the law — that marriage is whatever the government says it is, all in the advocacy of adult sexual preferences over the rights of children to a mother and a father. And where would it stop? Already there are cases in the federal courts calling for the legalization of polygamy on the same grounds that same-sex marriage proponents are arguing. Holland, which legalized same-sex marriage 15 years ago, is well on the way to legalizing polyamory, or group marriage. Closer to home, Canada has seen a drastic erosion of the freedom of speech and religion since the establishment of same-sex marriage. And here in Massachusetts, since same-sex marriage was established by judicial fiat, religious adoption agencies have been curtailed, parental education rights have been denied, and a full-court press is underway to take away the modesty, privacy and safety of all citizens in the name of transgender access to public bathrooms.
The sky over our heads has an ominous look of falling. Let’s hope the Supreme Court gets it right.
Kris Mineau is president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.