One Man, One WomanMITT ROMNEY
No matter how you feel about gay marriage, we should be able to agree that the citizens and their elected representatives must not be excluded from a decision as fundamental to society as the definition of marriage.
There are lessons from my state's experience that may help other states preserve the rightful participation of their legislatures and citizens, and avoid the confusion now facing Massachusetts.
In a decision handed down in November, a divided Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts detected a previously unrecognized right in our 200-year-old state constitution that permits same-sex couples to wed. I believe that 4-3 decision was wrongly decided and is deeply mistaken.
Contrary to the court's opinion, marriage is not "an evolving paradigm." It is deeply rooted in the history, culture and tradition of civil society. It predates our Constitution and our nation by millennia. The institution of marriage was not created by government and it should not be redefined by government.
Marriage is a fundamental and universal social institution. It encompasses many obligations and benefits affecting husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It is the foundation of a harmonious family life. It is the basic building block of society: The development, productivity and happiness of new generations are bound inextricably to the family unit. As a result, marriage bears a real relation to the well-being, health and enduring strength of society.
Because of marriage's pivotal role, nations and states have chosen to provide unique benefits and incentives to those who choose to be married. These benefits are not given to single citizens, groups of friends, or couples of the same sex. That benefits are given to married couples and not to singles or gay couples has nothing to do with discrimination; it has everything to do with building a stable new generation and nation.
It is important that the defense of marriage not become an attack on gays, on singles or on nontraditional couples. We must recognize the right of every citizen to live in the manner of his or her own choosing. In fact, it makes sense to ensure that essential civil rights, protection from violence and appropriate societal benefits are afforded to all citizens, be they single or combined in nontraditional relationships.
So, what to do?
People of differing views must remember that real lives and real people are deeply affected by this issue: traditional couples, gay couples and children. We should conduct our discourse with decency and respect for those with different opinions. The definition of marriage is not a matter of semantics; it will have lasting impact on society however it is ultimately resolved. This issue was seized by a one-vote majority of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. We must now act to preserve the voice of the people and the representatives they elect.
Mitt Romney. "One Man, One Woman." The Wall Street Journal (February 5, 2004).
This article reprinted with permission from Opinion Journal of The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Mr. Romney is governor of Massachusetts.
Copyright © 2004
Wall Street Journal
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