Marriage Shouldn’t Be a Supreme Issue
In just one week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases challenging marriage as the union of one man and one woman. When I first moved to D.C. 17 years ago, the issue of whether to redefine marriage was not on the table. In fact, it wasn’t even in the room! Now, just as our nation begins to debate this important issue, the Supreme Court will determine whether states shall continue to have the right to define marriage. In what will most likely be a 5-4 decision with Justice Kennedy being the swing justice, same-sex marriage may be forced upon Americans.
This would be a terrible mistake, for our nation has not had sufficient time to weigh thoughtfully the implications of fundamentally altering marriage policy. Studies regarding children raised in same-sex households are still very much in their infancy and can therefore not refute the decades of research clearly showing that children fare best when being raised by their biological mother and father within the context of marriage. As Austin Nimocks of the Alliance for Defending Freedom wisely stated, the Supreme Court should not force another Roe v. Wade moment in which the Court imposes itself in an issue that is far from decided.
In recent days, high profile figures have publicly embraced same-sex marriage. Senator Rob Portman became the first Republican Senator to show his support, stating in a Columbus Dispatch commentary that his support for traditional marriage–rooted in his Christian faith–changed based upon his son’s coming out. “Knowing that my son is gay prompted me to consider the issue from another perspective: that of a dad who wants all three of his kids to lead happy, meaningful lives with the people they love,” wrote Portman.
Just yesterday, Hillary Clinton, who is thought to be the leading Democratic presidential nominee for 2016, also endorsed same-sex marriage, stating in a Human Rights Campaign YouTube video that gays are “full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship. That includes marriage…I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law.”
Over the weekend, Rob Bell, a pastor who made headlines recently by denying the existence of hell, told a San Francisco congregation, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”
As President Obama has said, “People of good will and good faith” view this issue differently. We must keep this in mind when considering the implications of redefining marriage without bearing any malice toward the other side. What these public figures’ comments lead one to believe, however, is that if one doesn’t embrace same-sex marriage as a matter of public policy, one is unaccepting of gay men and women. That is far from the truth! While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing. Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the right to live as they choose, but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.
This is also not about civil rights, as Clinton makes it out to be. Marriage should be color-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. Men and women–regardless of their race–can unite in marriage; and children need moms and dads–regardless of their race.
This is also not just a religious matter, as Senator Portman’s op-ed suggests. Though all major faiths respect marriage as the union of one man and one woman, social science strongly supports traditional marriage. Government has also recognized that marriage benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. It is society’s least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of children while respecting everyone’s liberty to form their own relationships.
Washington Post columnist George Will stated over the weekend that “opposition to gay marriage is literally dying.” If that’s the case–and I’m hopeful it’s not–then the people should be able to express that through the legislative process. So far, though, only nine states have moved to redefine marriage. Polls change as often as the weather. The only poll worth noting is the one that happens on election day.
Ironically, the Supreme Court will render its decision on marriage at the height of wedding season. May each justice allow for the crucial marriage debate to continue with no needless judicial interference.