More on MarriageGEORGE WEIGEL
Why support a Federal Marriage Amendment? Here are ten reasons why.
FMA will prevent activist judges from redefining marriage to fit their squinty
reading of the "signs of the times." There isn't the slightest shred
of evidence to support the claim that the American people want this redefinition.
Those who do should have the democratic courtesy to take their case to legislatures,
not courts. Judicial usurpation of decision-making on grave issues of public policy
is undermining democracy. It's time to draw the line. This is the place.
"Marriage" is not something the state can legitimately redefine. Marriage
is a human institution thousands of years older than the state; a just state recognizes
that and structures its laws accordingly. The state is under moral judgment here,
not the institution of marriage as it's been understood for millennia.
to redefine marriage inevitably involve parallel attempts to drive religiously-informed
moral norms from public life. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, for
example, declared marriage a "wholly secular institution" in its recent
decision mandating so-called "gay marriage." The Massachusetts Supremes
were wrong, but if their opinion prevails, it will be another step toward establishing
secularism as the official ideology of the United States.
same-sex "marriage" will inevitably lead to demands that homosexual
sex be discussed "neutrally" in public schools. Parents who fight this
will be branded irrational bigots. This is already happening to supporters of
the Federal Marriage Amendment.
- The same charge of bigotry will
be laid against priests, ministers, and rabbis who decline to perform "gay
marriages." One young priest I know, an entirely sober soul, told me that
he fully expects to see clergy of his generation jailed for refusing to perform
same-sex "weddings." He is not being alarmist. Unhappy precedents have
already been set in Canada and Great Britain, where clergy have been subjected
to the pressures of the criminal law for teaching classic Christian doctrine on
- Some constitutionally fastidious conservatives
and a few dissembling politicians argue that marriage has always been a matter
for the states. This is historically inaccurate. Several federal laws against
polygamy were passed in the nineteenth century, and absent federal intervention,
polygamy might well have been legal in several states. Moreover, gay "marriage"
activists will insist that any one state's "gay marriage" provision
be recognized in every other state under the Constitution's "full faith and
credit" clause and they'll find a lot of the federal appellate bench
supporting that claim. In the current political, cultural, and judicial climates,
defining marriage is, inescapably, a national issue.
- Then there's
the slippery slope, which in this instance is an empirical reality, not a logical
fallacy. If states can redefine marriage as the union of two men or two women,
on what principled ground will states deny the claims of one man and three women
to be married? Or two women and three men? There is no such ground. If gay "marriage"
becomes the law of the land, polygamy and polyandry are not far away.
"marriage" advocates insist that family "structure" doesn't
matter. Haven't we learned from years of a lengthy, failed experiment in social
welfare policy that marriage "structure" does count? What's just about
ignoring the overwhelming social scientific evidence that kids flourish best in
a stable family led by a father and a mother? To endorse same-sex "marriage"
is to declare that motherless or fatherless families are social goods. The kids,
as usual, will suffer most.
- We've already seen the damage that's
been done to marriage and to children by a culture that increasingly divides "marriage"
and "procreation." Legally endorsing same-sex "marriage" will
accelerate the separation of marriage and parenting.
- What would
we be saying about ourselves and our traditions if same-sex "marriage"
wins the day? Among other things, we'd be saying that the biblical understanding
of marriage and the family is wrong, even bigoted. We'd be saying that there's
nothing really important about our being created male and female. We'd be saying
that "marriage" is something than can be redefined by anyone seeking
to meet a personal "need." Is that what we want to say to, and about,
Weigel. "More on marriage." The Catholic Difference (April 21, 2004).
Reprinted with permission of George Weigel.
Weigel's column is distributed by the Denver
Catholic Register, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver.
Weigel, a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a Roman Catholic
theologian and one of America's leading commentators on issues of religion and
public life. Weigel is the author or editor of sixteen books, including The
Cube and the Cathedral: Europe, America, and Politics Without God (2005),
to a Young Catholic: The Art of Mentoring (2004), The
Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church (2002),
Truth of Catholicism: Ten Controversies Explored (2001).
Weigel's major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II, Witness
to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (Harper Collins, 1999) was
published to international acclaim in 1999, and translated into French, Italian,
Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian, Russian, and German. The
2001 documentary film based on the book won numerous prizes. George Weigel is
a consultant on Vatican affairs for NBC News, and his weekly column, "The Catholic
Difference," is syndicated to more than fifty newspapers around the United States.
© 2004 George