Libertarian on the Definition of Marriage? Stop it! (Part 2)

Yesterday, I outlined two strands of the same argument that I have grown weary of hearing well-meaning friends advance.  For background, you may want to go back and read (or re-read) what I had to say yesterday before going further.  Oh, and if you didn’t watch the video there, this whole, “Stop it!” theme isn’t going to make much sense.

In today’s post, I want to turn from excising bad arguments to making the positive case for the sacred definition of marriage cannot and should not be abandoned within our civil laws.

Like Newhart, it’s a two word piece of advice, “Common grace.”

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About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

The Engaging Essentials

Life and Truth – Prof. Robert P. George posts a thoughtful, if lengthy (hey, he’s a scholar, he’s allowed), post discussing Catholic theology and the recent undercover Planned Parenthood “stings.”  He’s unsure if it’s a wise idea to reveal the banality that is the abortion industry under false pretenses.  I’m not sure if I agree, but, then again, I’m not sure I disagree.  Either way, it’s thoughtful reading you should take the time to consider.

Gaga Generation – An interesting and slightly disturbing post on the frenzy created (once again) by pop controversialist, Lady GaGa (why do I always want to put another ‘g’ at the end of her name?).  Here’s the central warning given:

I’m anticipating some major push-back from some folks, but I think that the release of this song marks a watershed moment in our understanding of who we are and where we’re going as a culture. That’s why it needs to be listened to, watched, tracked, and talked about. It cannot be ignored. “Born This Way” offers a mix of truth (God as Creator, inherent value and worth, etc.), and a host of very dangerous ideas that are evidence of our slide into a postmodern world void of the truth factor. Yes, God has made us just the way He wanted to, instilling in us tremendous value and worth. The Scriptures are clear on that. But we are sinful and polluted beings who need to exercise Biblical discernment in our assessments of ourselves, our natures, what we believe, and how we live. Without a deep and sobering understanding of our own sin, we can never fully understand or appreciate the grace we received at the cross. The song puts forth and promotes a way of thinking about, looking at, and living life that’s been increasingly embraced in our culture. We are who we are. . . but we need to be who we’ve been called to be. Lady Gaga is making some powerful statements about the nature of God, the nature of humanity, the nature of sin, and how to live life. The whole world is watching, listening, and believing.

“Vote for Life” Pledge Coverage – The Charleston Daily Mail covers our release yesterday urging candidates to decline funding from the abortion industry.  Silly headline, but interesting story.  In case you’re wondering, the other candidates supported by Emily’s List (and reference, though not named, in the story) are: Dels. Fleischauer, Brown, Hatfield, and Judge (former Delegate) Carrie Webster.

What is Christian Marriage? – Dr. R.C. Sproul asks and eloquently answers this important question.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

The Engaging Essentials

DADT Blackmail – The editors at NRO take Sec. Def. Robert Gates to task to effectively blackmailing the Senate into action.  ”Act now” he argues “before a court strikes DADT down.”  The great irony, of course, is that liberals support that reasoning here, but condemn it whenever we suggest the same for supporting a marriage protection amendment.

Of Not Growing Weary of Doing (Public) Good – FRC’s Bob Schwarzwalder has an important reminder for Evangelicals frustrated by the political process.

What Is Marriage? – Matthew Franck summarizes nicely a much longer law review article that urges us to first examine what marriage is before demanding either equality of the institution or enshrining it’s definition in the Constitution.  For the longer article, click here. Incidentally, one of the authors of the law review article is West Virginia’s own Robert P. George.  Kudos.

I Was There – Because of DADT’s consideration in the U.S. Senate this week, the oral arguments before the 9th Circuit over Prop 8 – the constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman in California that 7+ million voters supported –  was nearly lost in the noise.  This is the first of two reports from two men I hold in high regard and am grateful to call them friends.  Here, Jordan Lorence provides an excellent overview of the legal arguments and his thoughts on how the 3-judge panel might rule.

Taking Rights Away? – Aside from being a rabid Yankees fan, Joe Infranco is a great guy and a dear friend.  Also present at the hearing (I saw you on C-Span, Joe), he examines one of the opposition’s fallacious arguments, namely, that Prop 8 takes away a right to same-sex marriage.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

The Engage Family Minute – August 13

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Marriage and Democracy

West Virginians really know what they are talking about when it comes to democracy and marriage.

Take for instance West Virginian-turned-Princeton-professor Robert P. George. Recently, his commentary, “Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts,” appeared on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. This thoughtful piece examines the contentious battle between self-government and judicial activism. He begins,

We are in the midst of a showdown over the legal definition of marriage. Though some state courts have interfered, the battle is mainly being fought in referenda around the country, where “same-sex marriage” has uniformly been rejected, and in legislatures, where some states have adopted it. It’s a raucous battle, but democracy is working.

Indeed, the recent experience of several states has ended any serious question over whether there is a nationwide effort to redefine marriage. The question now – at least for West Virginia – is whether or not there is a legitimate reason to prevent a vote on the definition of marriage.

It’s a question that could end up before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, or even before the Supreme Court of the United States. Removing such a question from the people and allowing unaccountable judges to make the decision, George argues, would be a severe mistake – one we should have learned as a country with another socially contentious issue: abortion.

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About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Robert P. George: Gay Marriage, Democracy, and the Courts

From today’s Wall Street Journal comes one of the most insightful editorials on the topic of affirming the people’s right to decide by what definition of marriage they will be governed.  Written by West Virginia’s son and now professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, Robert P. George writes:

“We are in the midst of a showdown over the legal definition of marriage. Though some state courts have interfered, the battle is mainly being fought in referenda around the country, where “same-sex marriage” has uniformly been rejected, and in legislatures, where some states have adopted it. It’s a raucous battle, but democracy is working.

“Now the fight may head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following California’s Proposition 8, which restored the historic definition of marriage in that state as the union of husband and wife, a federal lawsuit has been filed to invalidate traditional marriage laws.

“It would be disastrous for the justices to do so. They would repeat the error in Roe v. Wade: namely, trying to remove a morally charged policy issue from the forums of democratic deliberation and resolve it according to their personal lights.

“Even many supporters of legal abortion now consider Roe a mistake. Lacking any basis in the text, logic or original understanding of the Constitution, the decision became a symbol of the judicial usurpation of authority vested in the people and their representatives. It sent the message that judges need not be impartial umpires—as both John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor say they should be—but that judges can impose their policy preferences under the pretext of enforcing constitutional guarantees.

“By short-circuiting the democratic process, Roe inflamed the culture war that has divided our nation and polarized our politics. Abortion, which the Court purported to settle in 1973, remains the most unsettled issue in American politics—and the most unsettling. Another Roe would deepen the culture war and prolong it indefinitely.

“Some insist that the Supreme Court must invalidate traditional marriage laws because “rights” are at stake. But as in Roe, they are forced to peddle a strained and contentious reading of the Constitution—one whose dubiousness would undermine any ruling’s legitimacy.

“Lawyers challenging traditional marriage laws liken their cause to Loving v. Virginia (which invalidated laws against interracial marriages), insinuating that conjugal-marriage supporters are bigots. This is ludicrous and offensive, and no one should hesitate to say so.

“The definition of marriage was not at stake in Loving. Everyone agreed that interracial marriages were marriages. Racists just wanted to ban them as part of the evil regime of white supremacy that the equal protection clause was designed to destroy.

“Opponents of racist laws in Loving did not question the idea, deeply embodied in our law and its shaping philosophical tradition, of marriage as a union that takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on bodily unity of the kind that sometimes generates new life. This unity is why marriage, in our legal tradition, is consummated only by acts that are generative in kind. Such acts unite husband and wife at the most fundamental level and thus legally consummate marriage whether or not they are generative in effect, and even when conception is not sought.

“Of course, marital intercourse often does produce babies, and marriage is the form of relationship that is uniquely apt for childrearing (which is why, unlike baptisms and bar mitzvahs, it is a matter of vital public concern). But as a comprehensive sharing of life—an emotional and biological union—marriage has value in itself and not merely as a means to procreation. This explains why our law has historically permitted annulment of marriage for non-consummation, but not for infertility; and why acts of sodomy, even between legally wed spouses, have never been recognized as consummating marriages.

“Only this understanding makes sense of all the norms—annulability for non-consummation, the pledge of permanence, monogamy, sexual exclusivity—that shape marriage as we know it and that our law reflects. And only this view can explain why the state should regulate marriage (as opposed to ordinary friendships) at all—to make it more likely that, wherever possible, children are reared in the context of the bond between the parents whose sexual union gave them life.

“If marriage is redefined, its connection to organic bodily union—and thus to procreation—will be undermined. It will increasingly be understood as an emotional union for the sake of adult satisfaction that is served by mutually agreeable sexual play. But there is no reason that primarily emotional unions like friendships should be permanent, exclusive, limited to two, or legally regulated at all. Thus, there will remain no principled basis for upholding marital norms like monogamy.

“A veneer of sentiment may prevent these norms from collapsing—but only temporarily. The marriage culture, already wounded by widespread divorce, nonmarital cohabitation and out-of-wedlock childbearing will fare no better than it has in those European societies that were in the vanguard of sexual “enlightenment.” And the primary victims of a weakened marriage culture are always children and those in the poorest, most vulnerable sectors of society.

“Candid and clear-thinking advocates of redefining marriage recognize that doing so entails abandoning norms such as monogamy. In a 2006 statement entitled “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” over 300 lesbian, gay, and allied activists, educators, lawyers, and community organizers—including Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, and prominent Yale, Columbia and Georgetown professors—call for legally recognizing multiple sex partner (“polyamorous”) relationships. Their logic is unassailable once the historic definition of marriage is overthrown.

“Is this a red herring? This week’s Newsweek reports more than 500,000 polyamorous households in the U.S.

“So, before judging whether traditional marriage laws should be junked, we must decide what marriage is. It is this crucial and logically prior question that some want to shuffle off stage.

“Because marriage has already been deeply wounded, some say that redefining it will do no additional harm. I disagree. We should strengthen, not redefine, marriage. But whatever one’s view, surely it is the people, not the courts, who should debate and decide. For reasons of both principle and prudence, the issue should be settled by democratic means, not by what Justice Byron White, in his dissent in Roe, called an “act of raw judicial power.””

—Mr. George is professor of  Jurisprudence at Princeton University and founder of the American
Principles Project (www.americanpriniplesproject.org).

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.