By Rachel Brody |
The real question that faces the nation is this: Should the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress invalidate the marriage laws of 44 states and eviscerate 30 state constitutions in order to redefine marriage to make it genderless? Properly understanding the question, the obvious answer is no.
It is a fundamental misunderstanding of the marriage debate to think that same-sex marriage would exist in the law alongside traditional marriage as simply a new and different expression of the same marriage institution Americans have always known. What is at stake is two competing definitions of marriage—the union of any two people regardless of gender, versus the collective understanding of virtually every nation throughout recorded history that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
Under the law, one definition of marriage would not exist alongside the other. Only one definition can prevail. As an article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, observed, "…once the judiciary or legislature adopts ‘the union of any two persons' as the legal definition of civil marriage, that conception becomes the sole definitional basis for the only law-sanctioned marriage that any couple can enter. Rather than peacefully coexisting with the contemporary man-woman marriage institution, it actually displaces and replaces it." [See a collection of political cartoons on gay marriage.]
When the law of marriage is changed to a genderless definition, we know from experience that there will be profound consequences for society. The old, traditional understanding of marriage ceases to legally exist and is replaced in every governmental forum with this new definition of marriage.
There is no room under the law for people who—whether for religious, ethnic, or personal reasons—disagree or refuse to accept this new understanding of marriage. They can, and experiences tells us they will, be punished by the law. Churches and religious organizations can lose their tax exemptions. They can be forced to either abandon their core moral principles or abandon their social ministry. Individuals, small businesses, and groups will be subjected to lawsuits and regulatory action if they refuse to condone the "new" understanding of marriage. Perhaps most profoundly, children at a very young age will be taught in school that marriage is between any two adults, no matter what they have been taught at home, in church, or in their ethnic traditions. Under the law, those who believe otherwise will be treated as the legal and moral equivalent of bigots.
About Brian Brown President of the National Organization for Marriage
Evan Wolfson Founder and President of Freedom to Marry
Peter Sprigg Fellow at Family Research Council