Politics and Marriage

I was invited to share my views on political issues relating to marriage and was pointed to DefendMarriage.org as a reference point. I think the issues relating to marriage and the politics surrounding marriage (gay rights and abortion rights are listed in the invitation and states rights are a part of the political discussion as well) really illustrate that there is more to this issue than simply answering the question of what defines “marriage” in our society. The following statement on traditional marriage from defendmarriage.org really outlines the socially conservative position on the surface issue of defining marriage:

Marriage between man and woman is the time-honored foundation of the institution of the family. This legally recognized and protected union is intended to be life-long, preceded by sexual abstinence and followed by absolute fidelity and loyalty. Such marriage offers security, benefits, and joys that no other relationship can, including children born and nurtured in a home of love and total commitment. Marriage is the institution universally sanctioned by civilization to ensure that children receive a full measure of parental love, resources and attention.

I fully agree with that definition of what marriage is. The question that I keep asking myself in order to define the parameters of the deeper issues is why, and in what ways should the law “recognize and protect” marriage. If we return to a proper protection of individual rights many of the reasons used to justify stretching that legal definition of marriage evaporate. If two people engage in a homosexual lifestyle and establish a loving and committed relationship then the government has no business interfering with hospital visitation rights etc. Our society gains nothing by infringing upon those individual rights.

On other questions, such as tax breaks and insurance benefits there should be no issue. Individuals can will their property to anyone regardless of family connection and the government should never have a primary right of ownership that is functionally implied through inheritance taxes. The same holds true with tax breaks for married couples – there should be no need for tax breaks because we should not have an income tax (which again implies that the government owns the money and simply allows individuals to a portion of what they contribute to the GNP). If we had no income tax there would be no tax benefit for being married.

As for health care benefits for families, family insurance policies would essentially be a type of small-group policy. Insurance companies could offer policies to match any kind of group whose business they want.

With regard to adoption, that is a social service that should not be run by the state. Instead, adoption should be a matter that is resolved between willing biological parents and individuals that are willing and to whom the natural parents chose to transfer the rights and responsibilities of parenthood. No need to worry about biological children because homosexual couples have voluntarily chosen a lifestyle that does not produce biological children. (Even those who argue that homosexuality is an inborn identity must recognize that those individuals may choose not to engage in the lifestyle.)

By removing those issues from the arsenal of those who agitate for recognition of gay marriage, the discussion would be reduced to the core issue of what constitutes marriage. That issue is not primarily a political issue, it is a cultural/theological issue. The government is only responsible to ensure that individuals on both sides of the issue do not have their rights trampled by others.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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8 Responses to Politics and Marriage

  1. It’s a breath of fresh air to read something on this subject that is clear and rational.

    An interesting thing that relates to this is that in France they instituted a sort of “civil union” and it has been used quite often by heterosexual couples who did not want to be married but had a relationship that required more than the standard boyfriend/girlfriend set up in terms of rights and responsibilities.

    This just goes to show, I think, that once we begin looking at this rationally we’ll come to solutions that benefit the society as a whole.

  2. David says:

    I had never considered the possibility of heterosexual couples making use of a “civil union” type of legal arrangement. I guess it’s the inverse of a common-law marriage – it’s not marriage, but it is legally recognized. (I know, common law marriages are legally recognized in some places.)

  3. Jesse Harris says:

    What a great set of ideas. It underscores just how deeply government has inserted itself into our lives once; all it takes is a quick enumeration of how government has usurped what was once the domain on the individual. Once we remove all of those incentives, we end up reducing the same-sex marriage debate to one of societal recognition, the true crux of the entire argument.

  4. David says:

    It’s interesting to imagine the consternation of those who favor big government and oppose same-sex marriage if they were to recognize how large government helps to subtly advance the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage.

  5. Fred Conwell says:

    Note that Jesus still defines sin as lack of love (Matthew 22:36-40). Fornication and adultery are unloving because each has a victim. What is unloving about a couple in a homosexual love relationships? Neither is victim, neither is unloved. Where is the hurt? Who is the victim being sinned agains? No Gospel writer nor prophet covers homosexuality because it is not the issue. The King James Version comes closest to a correct English translation with “sexual immorality” which is not homosexuality. (Remember that “homosexual” was coined about 1865, so any translation using a form of that word is a lie that needs to be ammended.) If God didn’t want men (or women?) to have sex with other men, He would have said “Man shall not lie with man PERIOD That whole “…as with a woman” thing condemns straight men pretending to make it with a woman.

  6. David says:

    How can you say that fornication has a victim any more than a homosexual love relationship? Adultery obviously guarantees that there is a victim, but the definition of fornication stipulates only that the situation be consensual and between unmarried individuals. There is no exclusion for “victimless” relationships.

    “Man shall not lie with man PERIOD” would indicate that it is sin for my infant son to fall asleep on my chest – would you lump that in the same category as a homosexual relationship? That argument just doesn’t wash.

  7. David says:

    This is an example of how the full protection of individual rights would render this portion of the debate (how to get equal rights for those who are not in a marriage relationship) irrelevant. If individual rights were protected fully there would be no need to write a law about who a person could share ownership of property with, or custody of children. A person could easily give power to anyone they chose to make health decisions or funeral arrangements.

    The real argument about bills like this is that opponents see civil unions as an attack on marriage while proponents either won’t or can’t admit the truth which is that legalizing homosexual relationships with civil unions could be used as a stepping stone to forcing people to recognize homosexual relationships as being on equal footing as heterosexual marriages.

    The editorial argues falsely that “Despite the obvious religious objections, this bill is about equality under the law.” The truth is that what this bill is about would be decided after it is passed. As proof look at the First Amendment – when it was passed it was about ensuring that government would not promote one religion over another; two hundred years later it is being used to stifle any religious expression in a public setting.

    I found it interesting that it is only since 1977 that married couples have formally enjoyed the legal standing that this bill would grant to homosexual partners now. What should be happening is that these rights should be informal like they were before 1977 and should be applied equally. This would leave the gay marriage question as a theological issue where it belongs. Each church would have the right/responsibility to decide what constitutes marriage according to their doctrine.

    It is only since the government started trying to tinker with society by promoting whatever it determined to be good that people felt the need to start boxing in their rights (or boxing out those who didn’t fit their ideal).

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