Redefining Marriage Sign of a Lost Society|
November 26, 2012
One significant development in the recent election was votes in four states
approving same sex marriage initiatives. Until now, all previous state referenda
to approve same sex marriage – 32 of them - failed.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page – a place where conservatives usually
turn for intellectual capital – saw this as cause for celebration.
According to the Journal, marriage definition should come from voters, not from
court orders. Americans, they argue, have “shown themselves more than capable of
changing their views on gay marriage the democratic way.”
In other words, our definition of marriage should follow process, not principle.
Let voters decide.
“As views on gay marriage change, and a growing number of Americans support it,
politics will follow. This is how it’s supposed to work.”
I’d guess if I asked the Wall Street Journal editors if the American
constitution should be viewed as a “living document” – if our understanding of
its words and what they mean should be open to change to reflect attitudes of
the moment – they would say “no.”
Liberals think the constitution should be re-engineered every few years like an
So it is not surprising when liberals, for whom tradition is meaningless, trash
once sacred institutions in favor of impulses of the moment.
But it does surprise me when those whose politics are supposedly
right-of-center, who view America’s founding documents as sacrosanct and give
the highest priority to preserving their integrity, are cavalier regarding the
integrity of an institution thousands of years older than our constitution.
But it’s a point of view not uncommon.
In the 1850’s, Stephen Douglas proposed solving the dilemma of whether slavery
should be permitted in new states by suggesting that they should just vote. What
could be more American than submitting the question of slavery to the democratic
process of each state?
Abraham Lincoln observed: “God did not place good and evil before man
telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, He did tell him there was one
tree, of the fruit of which he should not eat, upon pain of certain death….I
should scarcely wish so strong a prohibition against slavery in Nebraska.”
Lincoln’s rejoinder to the idea of “popular sovereignty” – that states should
vote to determine if slavery would be legal – was that there are core truths –
truths that define right and wrong, good and evil - that precede the democratic
To reject this premise is to buy into moral chaos. Which is what we are
The claim that somehow it is a sign of a healthy, free society that by way of
the vote we can re-write our language, our dictionary, our oldest, time-tested
traditions is a sign of how lost we are.
Same sex marriage advocates argue that their efforts will save the embattled
institution of marriage. But this takes a symptom of the disease and calls it a
As American society has become more self-centered and materialistic, family and
marriage have been imploding.
According to the
Pew Research Center, in 1960 72 percent of American adults were married.
This dropped to 51% in 2011.
Marriage and family is the pillar of any healthy society. It is the institution
through which children are born and raised and through which time-tested truths
and values are transmitted from one generation to the next.
To deal with the crisis of the collapse of family and marriage by redefining
what they are is the sign of a society losing its way.
Fortunately, America is still a free country. Individuals can make their own
choices about how they choose to live.
But taking personal choices to deviate from our social standards of right and
wrong, true and false, and decide to change those truths and standards, so that
nothing is any longer considered deviant, is a bridge to nowhere.
Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal
and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based
public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle
Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do