Protecting Marriage Throughout All Levels of Government

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Today the United States Senate begins consideration of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman- thus elevating existing law beyond the reach of activist judges. As it has been widely reported, this effort lacks the necessary support of 2/3 of the Senate and is likely to fail. Fellow Virginian Chuck Colson (who today will be meeting with President Bush along with former VA GOP gubernatorial nominee Mark Early) explains the need for the amendment here. He says:

Unfortunately, a lot of politicians don’t get it. They argue that we do not need a marriage amendment. If we want to keep marriage between one man and one woman—which they say they do—then all we have to do is pass state referenda. Nineteen states have already done so. So amending the U.S. Constitution is unnecessary. Well, these politicians apparently do not understand the inexorable logic of a series of cases that make it virtually certain that when state statutes barring gay “marriage” reach the Supreme Court, they will be struck down. Other politicians understand all too well, and when they claim that we do not need a marriage amendment, they are being disingenuous.

Let me explain the precedents that make it inevitable that the Court will uphold gay “marriage.” In the 1992 case Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Justice Kennedy affirmed the right of abortion with a sweeping definition of liberty as the right of a person to determine for himself the meaning of life.

Many feared this definition could embrace anything. Soon enough, it did.

After an examination of some Supreme Court decisions Colson delves deeper into why the federal amendment is needed:

Now, what all of this means is that the Supreme Court, following its own precedents, will declare any law restricting the right of homosexuals to marry unconstitutional. The die is cast. An appeal is already coming up from a Nebraska case in which a judge threw out a statute banning gay “marriage” as unconstitutional. Within two years this will be at the Supreme Court, and the axe will fall.

Just as with Roe v. Wade, the Court will take away the states’ rights to legislate.

The time to act is now. Don’t let politicians deceive you and tell you this is a state issue. The Supreme Court has already closed the door on that.

Colson is absolutely correct. While the battle to protect marriage in the states (including the VA Marriage Amendment) is extremely critical… ultimately the buck stops at the U.S Supreme Court. That is why the amendment being debated today and the never-ending effort to hold the White House and Senate in order to nominate strict constructionists to the Judiciary is so important.

Senator Allen is in favor of the federal Marriage Protection Amendment but I do not know where Senator Warner stands (although I can unfortunately guess…). His office has not yet responded to my email inquiries. PLEASE contact Senator Warner’s office today and let him know you believe marriage is between one man and one woman. You can do so here.

Now that the stakes are so clear, I’d like to offer a Marriage Carnival of What I Just Found (composed mostly of Townhall.com articles). Of course we will continue to have up-to-date coverage of Virginia’s efforts to protect marriage from radical redefinition with the Virginia Marriage Amendment this November.

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Marriage Carnival of What I Just Found

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16 Comments

Moderate 5-19 said:

While I fully the support the FACT that marriage is between one man and one woman, don't you ultra conservatives feel a little used. I mean this is clearly not an issue high on the Bush agenda. He has not really talked about it for two years and now, 5 months before the mid term elections it is all of the sudden a hot button issue. Bush has taken you for granted and ignored many of the issue most important to the people who put him back in office. And now he wants to "Rally the base". Playing politics is one thing but Bush is treating his conservative Base like an umbrella, just taking you out when needed and because the sky looks a little cloudy. Not the mention there is no way the Senate is going to get the 60 votes needed on this issue. Even if every member of the GOP voted for this (and they won't)it still would fall short.
I would rather the Senate spend their time with an issue that could really pass, like controlling totally out of control spending, a clear Iraq policy, etc. I want a Senate and a President that works and not just postures.

stay puft marshmallow man said:

I have a solution. Let's get the government out of the business of marrying all together. No more state endorsements of marriages! Marriage is all tied up in religion, so let's leave it to the religion experts. Let the members of every church, synagogue, mosque, ashram, and pagan shrine decide who can and can not get married in their establishment. Now that's democracy!

By allowing for each religious community to establish their own definitions of the sanctity of marriage, we would defuse this endless debate which stems from the idea that there can only be one definition of marriage which must apply to the entire population.

Come on, my Conservative Comrades, none of us really want the government telling people how to live their lives, do we? We can't possibly force one definition of marriage on the whole country. If we ban gay marriage, we'd be falling into Mill's tyranny of the majority. If we forced every religious institution to recognize same sex marriage, it'd be a tyranny of the minority. Bottom line, no body wants a tyranny.

what about the children? well, how about this: once a couple has a child, they would receive a tax credit comparable to the current benefit of being married, provided they remain together (like marriage!).

For those who believe that marriage is necessary for stability of the family unit, this plan would be even better than marriage because it would apply specifically to raising children (ie. no tax break for people who get drunk and get married in Vegas for the hell of it...unless they have a kid and stay together to raise it. Brilliant!)

If you want to be all traditional, here's what you do; find a cute little member of the opposite sex, get married at your favorite church, in front of your friends, family, and God, then start poppin' out kids just like the good ol' days. No different

By letting each religious community, and thereby the members of each religious community, define marriage, we won't have to worry about its sanctity being under attack, because the only ones who could change our understanding of marriage would be ourselves.

By saying that we need legislation forcing or banning gay marriage, we’re expressing a lack of trust in the individual to choose what is best for themselves. Why so many people of faith are willing to abandon their faith in the American people and place it in the hands of the governmental apparatus is not only beyond me, but wholly un-American. Is the federal government’s policy toward marriage really the only thing holding American families together? I say NO! ‘tis Love, True Love, and Liquor!

Not only is the solution I’ve proposed the only solution to this debate, but it's the best one, because it embraces the ideals of democracy, liberty, and individual responsibility that our nation was founded on (and that is NOT a revisionist statement!)

Sophrosyne said:

Moderate 5-19-

First of all I don’t think it’s accurate to call me an “ultra conservative.” Am I conservative? Absolutely. However according to any respectable poll my views are center-right and are embraced by tens of millions of Americans… I am no radical. If you disagree (as you apparently do) please tell me what positions I hold that are so “ultra conservative.”

Anyways… on to the substance of your comment (which I appreciate by the way). I do believe that on some levels the timing of this is political, and I also believe some Republicans are using this issue, which millions of Americans deeply believe in, to disingenuously advance their political careers and not the cause itself. Sadly we here in Virginia are all too familiar with this concept. We see it every time election year rolls around and the liberal Republicans in the Senate all tout their conservative credentials (one only has to read a few sentences of Potts’ rubbish in his last primary before getting nauseous). Despite this I still appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issue, and make no mistake that is all this is because there was never any hope of passing the amendment. I think we’ll have real movement once some activist judge interprets the federal DOMA to be unconstitutional and established same-sex “marriage” across the nation in one fell swoop. Bottom line: you know what they say: “don’t ever look a gift horse in the mouth”... while I wish our politicians were more sincere (who doesn’t?) I will take advantage of an opportunity to advance this issue through open dialogue (which we try to do on this blog). I hope that makes sense… I’ve had a lot of coffee today so be forewarned I might start rambling.

StayPuft-

The simple answer to your proposal is that government (and society in general) has a vested interest in raising healthy children. As the VA4Marriage website states:

“One of government's most crucial roles is to enhance the health and welfare of the people. Our government sanctions marriage between one man and one woman because it is the best means to protect and provide for children - a legitimate purpose for government. The institution of marriage existed long before the state gave rights to married couples. Government merely recognized an institution already present in the social order. Throughout time and across cultures, marriage has been the primary institution for the procreation, upbringing and education of children and, thus, for government's continued viability.”

You say protecting the existing definition of marriage from judicial activists is an expression of “a lack of trust in the individual to choose what is best for themselves.” I say that defending marriage is merely recognizing existing Natural Law and playing a role in ensuring that no child will willfully be denied a mother or a father.

stay puft marshmallow man said:

at the risk of being cliché, you are arguing against divorce, not gay marriage. also, I said nothing about "protecting the existing definition of marriage from judicial activism." My point was that marriage will only truly be sanctified when the individuals entering into a marriage choose to make it so, not when the proper legislation is passed through congress.

"Throughout time and across cultures, marriage has been the primary institution for the procreation, upbringing and education of children"

when you make historical appeals, you tread on thin ice. The arguement that because something has existed it should continue to exist is weak. one could just as easily have said,

"Throughout time and across cultures, slavery has been the primary institution of economic growth."

the same logic, tweaked slightly, can also be used to argue AGAINST a ban on marriage:

"Throughout our nation's history we've never have a ban on gay marriage, therefore we never should"

I agree with the statement that, "One of government's most crucial roles is to enhance the health and welfare of the people." That is why I believe that a system of national healthcare is more important than a ban on gay marriage.

But wait a second, are you, a self-described "conservative", seriously
arguing in favor of big government legislation to protect people from their own free will? mark it in your calendars, boys:

6/6/06, the day a proud conservative went pinko.

As for The Children; I don't think marriage is as important as a stable family unit. I think there are better ways for the government to support a stable family than banning gay marriage. I, like you, would not deny a child a mother and a father. That's why the gov. should stop endorsing the religious institution of marriage and start endorsing the social institution of the family unit.

Somewhere beneath all the punditry there is a serious issue here, and it's unfortunate that the debate can't be more comprehensive than the elementary, "yes we should/no we shouldn't ban gay marriage" duckspeak.

Moderate 5-19 said:

Sophrosyne,
First: Put the coffee down
Second: I really was not talking about you when I used the term”Ultra Conservative”. I was talking about everyone who falls in lock step with this President and when he says jump ask how high. People who voted for him based on (still undelivered) promises to the far right. People who often have no problem calling the rest of us “non patriotic” or as Ann Coulter says “Godless” when we disagree with anything this administration does, people who off handedly label the media “liberal” without ever stopping to consider if there reporting may be accurate. These are the people who Bush is using like a cheap date. Having said that I would call Russ Potts a moderate (takes one to know one). Maybe what one might call a “Liberal Republican or Conservative Democrat” is really just a moderate without a party.

As far as the marriage amendment, I do see your point that having the opportunity to talk about this issue is a positive thing. I guess I just feel that some issues are too important to be politicized to this degree. Marriage is the basis for family and family is the backbone of our Country, I don’t see the point of using it as a political football when the administration knows it won’t pass. It becomes like to boy who cried wolf and sooner or later people will stop responding to the importance of it and simply place it in the category of “political fodder”.

As far as your concern about “Activist Judges”, unless we plan to start changing and amending the constitution for every issue that may come before a federal court, we may want to figure out another solution to many important political issues to be dealt with now and in the future. I’m not one who wants to began fooling around with the construction. It is a sacred document and should not be brought into every political discussion as a solution to the problem. I recently heard someone say that we should amend the constitution to not allow children born of illegals to be legal citizens. While I agree with and understand the intention behind this idea, it makes my point that we are starting to talk about amending the constitution for every issue we can’t or don’t seem to have the intestinal fortitude to deal with.

Finally I love this site, it my new favorite blogging spot.

M 5-19 and Stay Puft in the same comment thread - egads we are not worthy of such qualified opposition! I'm on a business trip deep in red state territory and my Internet time is limited but I promise to elevate this discussion to a new post when I get home. Thanks for jumping in here, guys.

stay puft marshmallow man said:

sweet

also, I just thought of something. Some of you may think there are too many loop holes for people moving into the country right now. Well, if the state didn't "do" marriage, people couldn't use it as a tool to gain citizenship; Up goes sanctity!

Singleton said:

Moderate and Stay Puft-

Glad to have you guys commenting here.

There are already tax benefits for having children, I believe.

Although the idea of having the state not involved with marriage is intriguing, we as social cons are devoted to the idea of promoting traditional values. This, at times, trumps our love of small government. We have had to learn how to use government to fight groups who had been using government against us, kind of like political judo.

As for the tyranny argument, we have plenty of that in every piece of legislation that a minority opposes or any court decision that a majority dislikes. That's just how we roll as Americans.

Sophrosyne said:

StayPuft-

I completely agree with your point that “marriage will only truly be sanctified when the individuals entering into a marriage choose to make it so, not when the proper legislation is passed through congress.” And thus I recognize divorce, adultery, etc as growing and serious threats to stability of marriage and families (and thus the foundation of our society). While I agree that it is ultimately the responsibility of men and women to enter into meaningful, stable, committed marriages (i.e. no legislation “passed through Congress” will make this happen)… I do believe that an act of government (in this case from the judiciary) could make it more difficult for men and women to enter into this kind of relationship by radically transforming its definition and all that ensues. This isn’t a theoretical argument… we can see it in practice in Scandinavia where same-sex “marriage” has been legal for over 10 years. Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institute documented this effect, one of his articles can be found here:

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/660zypwj.asp

Basically once marriage was radically redefined the welfare of children was placed below the contentment of the partners involved in the relationship… something we unfortunately see in America as well but not on this scale. I hope we can all agree that Children do best (and our laws should encourage and support) when they are raised with a mom and a dad committed to each other in the stability of marriage. Since same-sex “marriage” became legal in Scandinavia 80% of 1st born children are born out of wedlock and denied this stability, and 60% of all later children are born to parents not committed in marriage. These are pretty tangible “lessons learned”.

And please don’t misunderstand my reference to history. I did not intent to make an argument that we should do something simply because we have been doing it for a while in the past in the same manner… what I had hoped to do was suggest that there was a reason we have done so… namely because it is a relationship grounded in Natural Law where the two complementary parts of humanity (man and woman) come together as the primary (and best) institution for the procreation, upbringing and education of children. Obviously I didn’t simply mean we should protect marriage simply because it is old. We should protect it because it is good.
The push for a Marriage Amendment isn’t “big government legislation to protect people from their own free will”. It is an amendment designed to protect the rights of the people from raw judicial activism that seems intent on redefining the bedrock of our civilization in the hollow name of “No Fault Freedom”. The reason we haven’t had to define marriage constitutionally in the past (and why the Founding Fathers’ didn’t do so) is because up until now the very notion of stripping the core of marriage from itself was unthinkable.

I have to give you props for thinking outside of the box with some of your ideas, but I believe (and peer reviewed studies show) that children do best when they have a married mother and father. THAT is the ideal family unit and our laws should reflect a much.

M5-19-

I think us conservatives often feel like a “cheap date” when it comes some in the GOP… but that doesn’t mean that, for now, the GOP isn’t our best ally and vehicle for change. I also agree with you one aspect of your “boy who cried wolf” analogy… we conservatives need to be cognizant of the fact that the other side is very good at dismissing our legitimate complaints as “typical of the far right”… and if we let any politician fire us up with no real hope for political success then unfortunately the left will grow more successful in dismissing us until it is too late. I think we will see real success with the federal marriage amendment once federal DOMA laws is shot down by some judge.

As to your “activist judge” comments… this isn’t a hypothetical concern that “may” come before a federal court. If you read Colson’s article in the above post you can see where things are headed… and in Massachusetts it has already happened. I agree we shouldn’t need to amend the constitution for every problem that has a remote possibility of being misinterpreted by an activist judge… but when it comes to defending marriage it is no longer a remote possibility.

I really appreciate that we can all discuss this issue without falling into the shallow accusations of “bigotry” and “intolerance” so often used to drown out rational discourse.

stay puft marshmallow man said:

scandinavia? Well, I think it's a nonsequitur to say that because two things happened in roughly the same time frame it is proof that one caused the other. it reminds me of this graph:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pirateschart.jpg

which clearly illustrates a causal relation between global temperature and number of pirates.

anyway, let's give the guy who wrote that article the benefit of the doubt. what evidence is there that gay marriage and people not getting married has had a huge negative impact on peoples health and well being?

hop on over to cia world factbook, scandinavian countries have longer life expectancies and lower infant mortality (suggesting that all those out-of-wedlock children are still somehow better cared for than infants in the US)

also, I don't think a natural law can also be an institution. it's one or the other. the fact that gay marriage CAN be made legal suggests that it is not natural law. otherwise, legalizing gay marriage would be like banning gravity.

Sophrosyne said:

Ha- I have to say your pirate graph is pretty entertaining... humor for the day. But it doesn't actually disprove the hard evidence in the Scandinavia case. Kurtz argument is pretty rock solid.

If you really believe it is OK (or equally worthy of encouragement) for children to be raised in homes where their parents are not committed in marriage, so be it. I obviously disagree, mostly because peer-reviewed study after study demonstrate that children do best (and that doesn't just mean live longest) when they have a MARRIED mom AND dad. But if you do believe this isn't essential then that probably would indicate where we diverge on the marriage debate. It really helps me understand where you are coming from, which is good to know.

As to Natural Law... maybe we are using different terms. I am not talking about physical laws such as gravity (although I assert both are equally firm and consistent), I am talking about "law that exists independently of the positive law of a given political order, society or nation-state" (definition from Wikipedia... search Natural Law).

This is what we see in our great Declaration of Independence where TJ wrote:

"...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."

This law stems not from a specific government or legislature but from our very nature as ordained by God. This philosophy was clearly the foundation on which our Founding Fathers built our Republic.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Well, when assessing overall well-being of populations, life expectancy and infant mortality are often used as general indicators. If a person is really traumatized by the fact that their parent's weren't married, or were gay, they'd be more likely to become depressed, become an alcoholic, childhood trauma often leads to high blood pressure later in life, etc. Statistically, people who are exposed to more stress factors live shorter lives.

if gay marriage IS harming Scandinavian society, maybe it's just too soon for life expectancy to drop because of it. But compared to the US, drug use and violent crime (two indicators of social decay) are pretty low, except for Denmark, which has the highest drug use in the area, the lowest life expectancy, and, according to you, the strongest anti-gay marriage movement. hmmm, it's like pirates and climate change!

Do you know of any studies which show EMPIRICALLY that Scandinavian society has shown signs of deterioration since the gay marriage thing 10 years ago? I would like to see these peer-reviewed studies. Are there any such studies from some place other than the heritage foundation?

stay puft marshmallow man said:

wow, no posts in two days, I'll take that as a 'no.'

it's amazing how quickly a lively discussion about an apparently important issue came to a screeching halt after the NO vote. tell me you guys aren't really just pawns in their game!

El Pufto:

Unfortunately the lack of response has nothing to do with the No vote or an inability for Soph to answer the question. You are in fact going to see a TON more writing on this issue here over the next month and this excellent thread will be revived in a series of regular posts. Just sit tight.

At the moment Sophrosyne is HEAVILY tied up, all weekend in fact, doing actual activism. He likely won't be back writing until Monday. Ditto for me, though I'm doing much less than Soph I have obligations with the NOVA TownHall group - getting the word out on our next meeting - and now am also helping to get Help Save Loudoun off the ground.

Believe me, this lively discussion will continue in a big way. (But thanks for holding our feet to the fire).

stay puft marshmallow man said:

damn, I was about to stick a flag in this thread and claim it in the name of FREEDOM. I knew it was too good to be true

Gnossis said:

The Children and their well-being kept getting mentioned in this "debate."

I'm having a hard time understanding exactly how a homosexual couple can--by themselves--procreate and raise their own children. If proponents of this legislation are so concerned about The Children being brought up in gay households, shouldn't they be more concerned with preventing gay adoption, surrogate mothers for gay parents, and/or artificial insemenization of lesbians? Wouldn't this ensure that all future generations, gay or straight, would have good up-bringings and be raised The Right Way, thereby preventing the societal decay that gay marriage opponents fear?

This is all very absurd. Let people be people.

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