Sunday, March 31, 2013

Red Flag Warning: Traditional Marriage - What Could Be More American?

This past week we were treated to not one, but two days of Supreme Court examinations of laws defining marriage. One case was about California’s Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment affirming that marriage was between one man and one woman. The second case was a challenge to the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA.  I don’t know much about either case or specifics of the laws involved, other than to note both were attempts via the will of the people to define marriage as it has been traditionally defined for thousands of years: the legal union between one man and one woman.

I did hear several clips of the discussions brought forth by the Supremes and the lawyers for both sides.  The transparency of the court should be praised, as it enabled us to learn the thinking of all parties on the matter. The questions raised by several justices, left, center, and right, were enlightening. One particular exchange centered on Justice Sotomeyer about the issue of follow-on marriage of other combinations of humans.  Much of the discussion revolved around this kind of a point, unintended consequences.

I understand the plight of gays in their quest for some level of stability and normalcy in their committed relationships.  Having a means to lead a legitimate life with one another would enable stability and more enduring gay based relationships.  However, we tinker dangerously with the definition of marriage if our culture determines to change it to “fit” the modern push for marriage by gays, and by extension other possible permutations. 

I stand by this position because society, our civilization’s culture, requires a mooring on what has been accepted moral value for thousands of years.  This mooring is important because it sets boundaries that we can touch base with and know the edges of what is or is not acceptable by a majority of people.  In many ways, the traditional definition of marriage, one man to one woman, is the cornerstone of our nation. This concept was embedded into our national DNA with the early pilgrims and those who were fleeing monarchical tyranny of religion, free speech, and a host of other human rights violations.  Tinkering with or “editing” foundational values of any nation brings about moral erosion, which can doom the underpinnings of that nation.

A Mr. Ryan Anderson, Heritage Foundation Fellow, a conservative think tank was confronted by Piers Morgan, CNN talk show host and deeply blue liberal. In a one against many set of, Mr. Anderson seemed to come off rather well reasoned and respectful of the topic. Mr. Morgan was much less so.  Morgan having the last word labeled Mr. Anderson’s position as, “It’s notfair, it’s not tolerant, it’s not American.”

Not to denigrate Mr. Morgan, but he unfortunately does not have American DNA. He hails from England, where at the time of our nation’s founding, fairness and tolerance were oxymorons of the day under King George.  Holding to the definition of marriage, as it has traditionally been known, one man married to one woman, is as American as apple pie and baseball. All that Mr. Ryan was defending is the long held value of marriage and to exchange it for “marriage to whatever strikes the fancy of humans” is dangerous over time to our nation's well being.

There is one other obvious sticking point missed by all parties of the debate. The role of religion in marriage as it pertains to “legalizing” the act. Most religious denominations will not perform the marriage ceremony until the intendeds produce a duly executed marriage license. Thus we have the joining of church and state rather than the opposite argument commonly invoked by the liberals.  The state gives license to the act. The church or other authority consummates the act.  The two steps are separate and should be seen as a solution to the dilemma.

The solution is rather simple and why it hasn’t been embraced sooner is puzzling. Much of the push back on gay “marriage” has little to do with “moral outrage” as it has to do with “Money”. Business and government simply does not want to pay for benefits to gay couples as they do to traditional couples in marriage, i.e. one man in union with one woman.  Those economic issues could and should be sorted out in the market place.  The state, with an interest to see cultural stability in their citizenry, could easily recognize ‘civil unions’ as a legal union between gay couples. Just as a man and woman go to the county clerk to acquire a marriage license, for union of one man to one woman, the gay couple could appear to acquire a civil union license to the union of whom ever they attest to join.

The second step, consummation of marriage or civil union licenses, enables religious orders to determine their own policies in regard to the issue. Some will adopt a traditional marriage only position; others will accept the civil union as well. It may be for some couples, regardless of lifestyle, will opt for a non-religious ceremony, as the consummation step is in reality the act of making a public statement of the intention to form a committed relationship.

The outcome of this process should be more committed relationships by all and ability for those relationships to be economically secure as well.  The potential unintended consequence for employers, besieged by mountains of rules and regulations, as well as the specter of discrimination lawsuits, will be the discontinuance of employee benefits altogether.  As we’ve have seen with the moral complexities of Obamacare, some business with conflicting values, drop benefits for all.  The other tangential issues such as adoption by gay couples will eventually be sorted out by the states as they work through the complex social research on these topics.

What could be more American than traditional marriage? The resolve of its citizens to find the right solution befitting a great nation.

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