In a widely expected, though sharply divided ruling, the Supreme Court ruled today that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, wrote for the majority in the historic decision, saying that gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry. In dissent, Justices Roberts and Scalia were particularly withering, raising serious and valid concerns:
Chief Justice Roberts: “The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?”
Justice Scalia: “They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since… These justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry.”
This ruling fundamentally changes American society. The Supreme Court has decided that the arguments for upholding the traditional and historically understood definition of marriage are invalid and of no consequence. Worse still, the court has cast grave uncertainty upon the continued Constitutional guarantees of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion contained within the First amendment, both of which come into direct conflict with the redefinition of marriage.
It is deeply troubling and disappointing that as a culture, we’ve now arrived at the point in which a person who believes in the importance and cultural significance of traditional marriage (1 man + 1 woman = marriage), a position even Barack Obama shared until his recent “evolution”, is now expected to defend their position on the grounds that it is discriminatory, bigoted and homophobic. During the 2008 campaign, at a forum held by Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church in California, then-Senator Obama declared: “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, for me, as a Christian, it is also a sacred union.” There is no doubt that his expressed views have changed since that time due to political expediency and opportunity. There is also no doubt that his “change” reflected his truest beliefs on the subject. His opportunism was sufficient to increase his share of the GLBT vote in the 2012 election, and presented Newsweek (a defunct magazine) an opportunity to proclaim his beneficence on their cover.
Unsurprisingly, the views of numerous other politicians have also changed as opportunity and expediency have presented. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Senators Harry Reid, Rob Portman and Bob Casey have all undergone an “evolutionary” change. Speaking of which, the term “evolution” being used in conjunction with one’s position on same-sex marriage (SSM) is deeply insulting and offensive. The term implies the progression from lower to higher form; ergo, anyone opposed to SSM is lower, less evolved than those who support it. This hateful conceit allows SSM proponents to dismiss any arguments by the opposition which may raise valid points, because by their logic anyone opposed to SSM is a mentally deficient, misogynistic, sexist, patriarchal, racist, bigoted superstitious, religious fanatic, one step removed from Neanderthal, whose opinions are not worthy of a hearing.
This is the age of rejection, refutation and repudiation. We’ve arrived at the point at which all we have taken as given, as clearly demonstrated fact, as natural and logical and good, has become outmoded, outdated, turned upside down and rejected – not because they’ve been proven false or inadequate – but because they do not conform to modern tastes. While the idea that someone who believes that marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman is a bigot, ignorant, hateful and backward is ludicrous on its face, many people are finding that now, in everyday conversations, they are viewed as being rabidly prejudiced if the conversation turns to the issue, and they voice their opinion that the implementation of same-sex marriage fundamentally alters traditional family values, religious freedom and American culture in ways that cannot be counted as positive or beneficial. The question “What is wrong with them?” becomes the standard sneer of apparatchiks, progressive talking heads, and liberal lawmakers.
However, this concern is not limited to the unwashed, uneducated masses populating the flyover country, clinging to guns and God. During the oral arguments at the Supreme Court challenging Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Justice Samuel Alito made his disquiet clear when he described gay marriage as newer than such rapidly changing technological advances as cellphones and the Internet, and appeared to advocate a more cautious approach to the issue. “You want us to assess the effect of same-sex marriage,” Alito said to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. “It may turn out to be a good thing. It may turn out to be not a good thing.” For SSM supporters, this question in and of itself is nonsense because they hold their point of view as sacrosanct and in no need of defense.
Unsurprisingly, proponents of the redefinition of marriage ignore or distort historical precedent in an attempt to bolster their argument. They compare the fight for SSM to the Civil Rights struggle, holding up the Stonewall bar riot as equivalent to Rosa Parks refusing to move from her seat on the bus, drawing the righteous indignation of patriots who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., or they try to form a corollary by clutching desperately to the fact that the court likewise ventured into the unknown in 1967 when it struck down bans on interracial marriage in 16 states (failing to mention that interracial marriage had existed for centuries globally and was widely accepted in much of the United States and across different cultures). Worse still is that throughout history (Dennis Prager makes this case expertly), not one eminent philosopher, religion or cultural system (across the ideological spectrum) has ever endorsed the concept or even the mere idea of same-sex marriage – not one.
Throughout human history, marriage was and has been always understood and accepted as a relationship between a man and a woman – ideally a single man and a single woman. Not one philosophical and / or religious leader – not Jesus, not Confucius, not Mohammed, not Buddha, not Gandhi – ever even considered the idea. Yet modern gays and their supporters have arrived at the conclusion that the most radical and disruptive restructuring of society is not only possible, but necessary. They have decided, in their hubris (within the last 40 years, ignoring the previous 9,960 years of human civilization) that the bedrock foundation of social norms and values must be destroyed and rebuilt in order to implement their agenda of redefining the most fundamental, most ideal social institution the world has ever known. As author Mark Steyn has noted, “I think there is something absurd and ridiculous in an appellate court defining an institution that pre-dates the United States by a couple of millennia.”
There exists today no other challenge to the fabric of society that carries more dangers and more potentially destructive force. With the national implementation of SSM we will inevitably, with the inexorable force of a tsunami, slowly but surely arrive at a point in which religious freedom, parental sovereignty, and freedom of speech will all be effectively curtailed, if not eliminated outright. A minister will be unable to preach his faith’s view against homosexual acts without the threat of prosecution. Parents will be unable to decide for themselves what views their children will be taught on the role of gays in society. Citizens will be unable to express their opinions freely without fear of recrimination, or charges of “hate speech” being leveled against them, chilling discourse. Sadly, these things are happening already.
We consider normal those things that happen most often, those things that are most universal. That does not necessarily entail a judgment that the normal is superior or good and the abnormal is inferior or bad. But – when the normal is good – it does entail an acceptance of the historicity and preponderance of the normal, and not its dismissal or refutation. Even more importantly, when the normal is the most important part of a foundation, part of the critical support structure that undergirds a system built upon it, to change, alter, destroy or remove the normal by necessity changes, alters, destroys or removes the structure built upon it.
With the change, alteration, destruction or removal of the normal comes a change in its historical perception. Our view of the Founding Fathers, Christopher Columbus, and the Pilgrims have all been subtly altered over time by liberal, secular, humanistic cultural changes which gradually have come to paint these historical figures in a negative light, based not in their actions in the context of the times, but based on the changed mores, values, and beliefs of the new generation. We have come to hate them because they do not mirror us as we are now. With this changed perception comes a loss of reverence for these figures, their accomplishments, their values. Rejection of those values is rejection of the Constitution they created, rejection of the battles they fought, rejection of everything they cherished – including their God. What comes in its place? What fills that void? Inevitably something that is not equal to the task. This change affects society even to the degree that the immediately preceding generation may also be considered tainted and becomes necessarily disregarded. For most Americans, their parents’ generation may well be considered one day to be the “Last Bigots”. Their accomplishments, their dreams and their contributions will all be measured and found lacking by their refusal to accept that which their children embraced. What then of family cohesion, pride and tradition?
The implementation of SSM fundamentally alters the relationship between people and their families, their speech, their history and their religion. Look north to Canada, where pastors and churches are being prosecuted for preaching the same message they’ve given for the last 2,000 years. Regardless of their faith, most adherents believe that their doctrine embraces the traditionally and historically understood definition of marriage. Now that SSM has become the law of the land, where will this leave religious groups who do not accept the redefinition? Will they be attacked for bigotry? Will they be endangering their tax-exempt status? Will they be targeted for bullying and intimidation by groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate organizations”? Will they be vilified by political radicals? Will their members be harassed by government agents and activists? Will they be forced to close their doors or go underground for preaching a faith that does not embrace the new view of marriage? Will they inexorably be changed, degraded, and ultimately destroyed by a society that views them as outdated, out of touch, and out of time? Sadly, it seems increasingly likely that the answer to all these questions is yes.
Doubtless, the intolerance and persecution will not stop at a citizen’s front door, as has already started happening in other countries. Doesn’t a child have a fundamental human right to both a mother and a father? What happens to the child (and her parent) who has the temerity to say at school that she and her family believes in traditional marriage? What happens to the parent who does not want his child participating in “Gay Week” at school? What happens to family that believes that a Biblical view of morals does not embrace the alternative lifestyles? What happens to the teacher who doesn’t want to expose young children to such loaded topics such as “GLBT Rights”? What happens to the homeschooling parent? What happens to the Boy Scout troop? Not only are none of these questions are being answered – it is considered bigoted and homophobic to merely ask them.
Given the shifting norms and values of society, it was inevitable that SSM would become legal across the nation. Even so, the rationale that went into its implementation had other consequences that are yet unseen, or have yet to be perceived or acknowledged. For example, what is the limiting principle? If the rationale for “marriage” may be construed as “being with the one you love”, what is to prevent changing laws and statutes that would allow a mature woman to marry her equally mature father, brother, or son? What is to prevent the changing of laws and statutes that would allow a man to enter into a consensual sexual relationship with a minor with the approval of the child’s parents? What is to prevent the changing of laws that would allow a person to simultaneously have multiple spouses of varied genders? If the only impediment to these changes is the existence of laws that could be overturned, by what standard are we to judge the moral certitude of human relationships? Are we instead to remove all values, all morals, all strictures designed and intended to structure marriage and human relationships in ways that ultimately benefit society, produce families that are grown over succeeding generations and which contribute to the development of communities and humanity at large? Do we simply become “beings” that interact as we choose with other “beings” and all other distinctions are lost to the mists of time?
As a nation that prides itself on valuing the “voice of the people”, we should have done exactly that – listen to the people. In those states in which voters have decided that the protection of the traditional, historical definition of marriage is paramount to such a degree that it has become enshrined in their state constitutions, we should not have not imposed by fiat the converse. In those which have elected to allow SSM, let us see what develops. Over time, events and circumstances will shine a light on the benefits and drawbacks of SSM, its impact on families and society at large, and allow us as a nation to move past the hypothetical stage. Only this approach will serve to dampen the hot rhetoric, cool tempers on both sides, and encourage the natural development of a workable solution. Anything else will create a situation in which conflict will flourish. Above all else, we should have been honest with ourselves about the enormous challenge of fundamental, transformative changes to a cornerstone of society which has existed for at least the last 10,000 years.
Proponents of same-sex marriage arrogantly claim that they are on the “right side of history”, but are they on the right side of humanity? Are they on the right side of families, of faith, or freedom? The evidence thus far is murky at best and alarming at worst. We are entering dangerously uncharted waters, with foreboding precedents. A society as large and diverse as ours, with the range of individual liberties we hold sacred as rights has never before undertaken such a drastically profound and monumental change as the redefinition of a cornerstone of society. We would have done well to stop and think. We would have done best to stop and reconsider.