Arguments of Marriage Opponents Are Not What They Seem
Proponents of redefining marriage have again set their sights on the U.S. Supreme Court -- this time to force a new definition of marriage on every state in the country by 2015.
In case you haven't been keeping track, proponents have filed more than 20 different lawsuits challenging over a dozen states' marriage laws. This is a bald attempt to leave the democratic process in the dust by those who wish to impose their novel definition of marriage on everyone -- much in the same way activists used Roe v. Wade to force abortion on our entire nation.
But the problem for those behind this plan is that the state marriage laws they are challenging do not violate the Constitution. Maintaining the gendered definition of marriage that these states have always known falls squarely into what both the Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent approve.
Some assume that the Supreme Court found a new right to same-sex marriage when it issued the Windsor decision at the end of June, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Instead, that decision declared that the federal government erred in its "unusual deviation from the usual tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage[.]" The Supreme Court said the federal government can't infringe on each state's right to define marriage because "[b]y history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage ... has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States."
So, far from undermining state laws that "define the marital relation," the highest court affirmed the states' sovereignty to enact them as the "virtually exclusive province of the States."
Those attempting to redefine marriage have framed the Supreme Court's decision as declaring that same-sex marriage should exist in every state, but the Supreme Court's recent ruling only reaffirmed its past decisions -- decisions that quite clearly affirmed the states' constitutional role in crafting marriage policy.
The fact that some states have embarked upon the social experiment that is same-sex marriage while some states have chosen to wait is perfectly within their authority as states. For the states that continue to uphold marriage as between man and woman, these laws are rationally based in the states' interest in keeping families together and in ensuring the continuation of the human race. And the Supreme Court agrees.
The challenged marriage laws are rooted in the facts of biology and reproduction, not hatred or discrimination. In Pennsylvania, for example, where one of the legal challenges is occurring, practically the same legislature that voted to decriminalize sodomy voted to continue to protect and safeguard marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Thus, despite what many supporters of redefining marriage allege, none of the challenged state marriage laws is based on animus or an intent to injure a particular group of people.
Moreover, none of these states' laws penalizes, let alone criminalizes, same-sex couples. Far from it, these laws leave same-sex couples free to plan their lives together and to employ a variety of tools in so doing, including joint tenancies, advance health-care directives, powers of attorneys, beneficiary designations, adoptions, insurance plans, wills, and trusts.
Quite simply, real victory remains out of reach for advocates of same-sex marriage because the laws they have challenged do not meet the requisite factors to be declared unconstitutional. None of them creates novel disabilities or intrudes upon the traditional spheres of the states.
On the contrary, all of these marriage laws exist to safeguard a time-honored definition, which each state has enacted properly within its rightful authority to promote what's best for families and society to flourish.