Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

What is marriage?

Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation has a very good, and comprehensive review of the gay marriage issue. (It is in the Chicago Tribune, and registration is required.) He rightly asserts that the effects of judicial decisions is to redefine marriage: "The claim is rather simple: Homosexuals, like heterosexuals, have the right to "seek autonomy" in their private relationships, including "personal decisions relating to marriage." That’s what the U.S. Supreme Court said last year in Lawrence vs. Texas. The choice of marriage partner is a private matter, stemming from personal autonomy, and thus a civil right.

By extension, says the Massachusetts Court, the traditional definition of marriage is arbitrary and irrational. Not only does it violate the dignity and equality of all individuals, but banning persons of the same sex from marrying is discriminatory and serves only to reinforce prejudice against homosexuals." But, Spalding maintains (and I agree), "Contrary to the opinion of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, marriage in not an ’evolving paradigm.’ Nor is it an artificial, socially constructed concept." So, what to do? He reluctantly (because he is a supporter of limited constitutionalism) endorses a Constitutional Amendment. He says that prudence dictates it because "Society has never before been confronted with such a concerted legal and political effort to forcefully redefine and undermine one of its most basic institutions." Thomas Sowell also has something to say on this matter. He claims that marriage is not, as the pro gay marriage folks would have it, a matter of an individual’s right; it is a "social contract because the issues involved go beyond the particular individuals. Unions of a man and a woman produce the future generations on whom the fate of the whole society depends. Society has something to say about that." Hence the large bodies of law established over the centuries. Fool with all that, at your peril, he argues.

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Society has never before been confronted with such a concerted legal and political effort to forcefully redefine and undermine one of its most basic institutions

Poppycock.

Slavery? Coverture? Come on, Matthew!

Plus, marriage hasn’t evolved over time? Are Matthew and I reading the same materials of legal history?

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