by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado
Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, in ruling that California’s Proposition 8 violates equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution, wrote that “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay man and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.” The opinion advances the argument that marriage is a right that should not be denied to anyone on the basis of sexual orientation.
Proposition 8, however, does not deny the right of gays and lesbians to marry. Rather, it affirms the centuries-old definition of marriage as a social and legal institution under which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as man and wife. The California Supreme Court upheld the right of Californians to reaffirm the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. So gays and lesbians are not being deprived of the right to marry by Proposition 8, so long as the marriage is between a man and a woman, whatever their sexual orientation.
The issue, then, is the definition of marriage. It has always referred to a union between a man and a woman. Why should we care? Because marriage and the family is the basic social institution in any civilized society. Moreover, it is a religious event of deep significance for all traditional religions. It is only in recent years as permissiveness and promiscuity have spread throughout the Western world, creating an anything-goes, do-whatever-feels-good atmosphere, where any form of sexual behavior must not only be tolerated but be accorded respectability, that same-sex marriage was even talked about in polite society.
Equal rights for gays have been incorporated into the law of the land for some time now and acceptance of homosexual relationships has followed. But gays and lesbians want more than just acceptance. They want society to elevate their lifestyle to the same degree of wholesomeness and respectability as the heterosexual or straight lifestyle.
A few but significant barriers remain. One is the armed forces which cling, albeit tenuously, to the “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy. Striking down this policy and permitting homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces is their number one objective. Achieving this goal will permit them to say that the federal government now considers homosexual behavior as normal as heterosexual behavior. The second barrier to full acceptance is the definition of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. But this barrier will not easily be overcome because a majority of people in most regions deeply believe in that definition for moral, religious and cultural reasons.
If the definition of marriage is expanded to include unions other than between a man and a woman, where might it end? Why not allow marriages between consenting first cousins or siblings? Why not multiple spouses or marriages between adults and children as permitted in some cultures?
Opponents of same sex marriage are being demonized as bigots and there are those who, in fact, are bigots. But bigotry is not the issue here, Judge Walker’s opinion notwithstanding. Neither are equal rights a valid issue. There is no economic or legal advantage that same-sex marriage would provide that cannot also be provided by properly crafted civil union agreements, properly enforced by the state.
Since the California Supreme Court upheld the right of Californians to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage as in Proposition 8, it is the height of arrogance for an obscure, unelected judge to defy the public will and overturn that right. Moreover, his opinion was insulting and demeaning, citing, as he did, “evidence” of bigotry and prejudice where none existed. Examples include “findings” such as “moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same sex couples are different from opposite sex couples.” Really? Obvious physical differences come quickly to mind.
Judge Walker is quick to dismiss those religious and moral views as if they were totally insignificant superstitions. But they are the views of most traditional religions and they are deeply held by the followers of these religions. They cannot be dismissed as bigotry.
Such examples of judicial and federal overreach validate the growing belief on the part of many that judges and federal elected and appointed officials couldn’t care less what a majority of the people think and wish. They know what’s best for the people and they view their role as imposing their enlightened social views on the ignorant masses knowing that eventually, little by little, the public will get used to them and come to accept them. It is this sort of overreach that is alienating the people from their government and fostering a resurgence of states’ rights movements.
copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr
J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.