U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to invalidate California’s ban on same-sex marriage will force everyone to think about whether gay marriage is good for America.
Walker’s ruling, that the ban runs counter to the guarantees of equal protection and due process included in the U.S. Constitution, puts the issue on track for a hearing before the Supreme Court. By nullifying the votes of nearly 7 million Californians, Walker has forced the issue.
Advocates for gay marriage refuse to accept that there really can be a difference of viewpoints on the issue that is not motivated by hatred or bigotry. Yet no presidential nominee of either major political party has explicitly campaigned in support of it since the issue was moved onto the national agenda as the result of a ruling by the Massachusetts state Supreme Court. Neither major party platform advocates for gay marriage. In every state where the issue has been put before the voters, the idea that the definition of marriage should remain as something between a man and a woman has been affirmed, usually by a solid majority.
Dismissing the opposition to gay marriage as mere bigotry on the order of religious or racial prejudice, as Walker’s decision seemed in my judgment to do, is an insult to the American electorate.
Many of those who oppose gay marriage--and even some of its supporters--believe the effort to use the courts force it upon America (as Roe v. Wade forced legalized abortion on every state) is more about forcing people to change their views on homosexuality than it is about achieving measures of equality. There are those, for example, who do not object to the idea of gay marriage per se, and who support the idea of civil unions, who nonetheless object, and strongly, to the coercive tone of the currently unfolding legal and political debate.
The debate over gay marriage is, for some, a case in which government policy is being misused as a way to secure popular validation of a lifestyle to which some people, on moral grounds, strongly object.
"Gays ultimately need to stop looking to government for unconditional love and approval of who we are," says conservative writer Tammy Bruce. Looking to government to force states to legitimize gay marriage, Bruce continues, "gives the government and other people’s opinions far too much power over the quality of our lives and effectively eliminates our own responsibility for our happiness."
Those who argue that the government should not be in the business of rendering what are, in effect, moral judgments about behaviors can do so only by ignoring the evidence. The government renders judgments all the time, and not just in the criminal code--by, for example, holding that an adult who engages in sexual relations with a child can be jailed as a result of their actions.
In another example, the government allows, even orders that people of differing incomes be taxed at different rates based on how much they earn or based on the type of income they receive. This is a moral judgment to say that people who make more should pay more, not just in dollar amounts but as a percentage of what they make.
It is highly likely that the Supreme Court will ultimately sustain Walker’s decision, upending at least 300 years of ordered liberty in which the traditional family unit has been the essential building block of the American civilization.