On May 8, 2012, North Carolinians will vote on whether to add the following language to the Constitution of North Carolina:
Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.
Meanings often change with times. The meaning of a word changes when people use it in a new and different way.
Gay. Fifty years ago, if I told you I was gay, it would mean something quite different than what it means to people today.
Word usage by people determines new meanings.
It’s a word. But it is also a civil, legal and religious institution. I support the NC Marriage Amendment because I believe the legal and civil purpose for the institution of marriage is to protect and encourage the lifelong commitment between one man and one woman to raise a family. Marriage is the institution designed for the creation and nurturing of children.
I will offer the following four points:
1. Some say that we do not need the Marriage Amendment because it already reflects the status of state and federal statutory law. However, I believe that the Marriage Amendment is necessary to ensure that marriage is defined by the people of North Carolina, and not by a handful of judges. As a Constitutional amendment, the people of North Carolina would directly control the meaning and purpose of this institution.
2. There are two views of marriage in this debate – the traditional view that the institution of marriage is the lifelong commitment between a man and a woman to create, sustain and raise a family. The competing view purposes the institution for adults to express and validate lifestyle choices. Some have characterized this debate as “child centric” versus “adult centric” views on marriage or whether the institution is tied to promoting procreation.
3. The law is normative. How you define the purpose for the institution of marriage has consequences. When the institution of marriage is no longer about a lifelong commitment to family and children – it stops functioning to produce commitment, family and children. Accordingly, the countries that have been progressively redefining marriage to be about adult preferences, marriage and reproduction rates are plummeting to dangerously low numbers. I find merit to the concerns expressed by some that the West is committing societal suicide by demographics.
4. The numerous and mutating objections about the Marriage Amendment causing harm to families, business and domestic violence protections are disingenuous and ignore what has happened in the 29 other states that have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage. Critics have failed to put forward credible evidence of these threatened harms occurring in these numerous states over the past several years.
This brings us to the first issue with the Marriage Amendment –
I. Is the Marriage Amendment necessary?
YES. American’s have not redefined the word nor the institution of marriage. The effort to redefine marriage has been spearheaded by lawyers, the legal academic elite and a handful of judges.
Institutions and morals can change with times. When morals change, the law often changes to reflect the new values. But there’s no evidence the meaning of the word has changed through popular usage nor the institution.
The black letter dictionary on law – Black’s Law Dictionary defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. The second edition of the Oxford American Dictionary is the most recent, comprehensive lexical analysis of American English. Completed in 2005, it defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Similarly, our current statutes reflect the view that marriage is between a man and a woman. The federal Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Clinton states that “’marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife …) 1 USC § 7. North Carolina General Statute § 51-1.2 establishes that same sex marriages are not valid in North Carolina.
However, the force for changing the definition of marriage to include gay marriage was a handful of judges and the power of their courts. Eight states recognize homosexual marriages – the first three States in our Republic to do so – were the result of judicial decree.
Massachusetts: May 17, 2004, Court Order
Connecticut: Nov. 12, 2008, Court Order
Iowa: April 24, 2009, Court Order
Vermont: Sept. 1, 2009, Legislation
New York: June 24, 2011, Legislation
New Hampshire: Jan. 1, 2010, Legislation
Washington: Feb. 14, 2012, Legislation
Maryland: passed Mar. 1, 2012; effective Jan. 1, 2013, Legislation
This issue of marriage should be resolved by the people of North Carolina and not by attorneys or judicial decree. Through the legislative process, only five states have adopted homosexual marriage. In contrast 29 states have expressly prohibited homosexual marriage by Constitutional Amendment, and one state has passed a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to ban gay marriage.
10 States w/amendments that ban same-sex marriage: Alaska, Nevada, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Colorado, Tennessee, Arizona, California – whose ballot initiative banning gay marriage is presently enjoined by the 9th Circuit
18 States w/amendments that ban same-sex marriage & civil unions but not other contracts: Nebraska, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, Texas, Alabama, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Florida
2 States w/amendments that ban same-sex marriage, civil unions & related contracts: Michigan, Virginia
The people, not a judge, should decide whether we want to redefine what marriage means in North Carolina. If the Marriage Amendment is passed by the voters, then under state law, it can only be changed by a vote of the people.
II. The traditional versus the radical feminists and critical legal theorist’s theory of marriage
What’s the purpose for the institution of marriage? Why do we have “marriage”?
Is marriage primarily about family or about the individual’s liberty of lifestyle?
How you answer this should largely inform your views on whether you think the institution of marriage ought to include homosexual partners.
A. The traditional definition of marriage.
In his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster defined marriage as follows:
The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.
Webster’s definition reflects the traditional, Judeo-Christian perspective on marriage. This is the definition to which the people of the Carolinas have regulated the legal institution for over 343 years, since the original royal charter of the Province of Carolina. It is the view held uniformly throughout the West for the past 2000 years, until about 20 years ago.
Under this traditional view, marriage is a life long commitment between a man and a woman and is the foundation of the family. The family is the foundation of society as it is the family that creates, nurtures and raises the next generation. In this view, marriage is a sacred bond between the man and woman, in the presence of the family, friends and before God. The family is the foundation of any and every society.
The traditional view on marriage is premised on the idea that marriage and raising children are hard work that requires a lifetime of largely selfless commitment. The institution of marriage is to encourage and protect that union and labor for the benefit of the children.
The traditional view of marriage is also premised on the idea that society should promote and protect children being raised by their biological mothers and fathers who are committed and legally obligated to the well being of the family. There is great and ancient wisdom in this sentiment that we should all recognize. There is an overwhelming common pathology in our prisons and on our welfare roles: children raised without their fathers. Every year about one million more children are born into fatherless families. If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 35 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great. The policy implications of the increase in out-of-wedlock births are staggering. Marriage drops the probability of poverty by 80%.
Decades upon decades and hundreds if not thousands of empirical studies repeatedly demonstrate that children raised in a home with their married mother and father are substantially more healthy, wealthy, happy, and productive than their counterparts who were not.
Under the traditional view of marriage and family – the self is subordinated to the good of the family, particularly to the good of the children. Through the traditional institution of marriage, adult society protects, promotes and encourages a child’s right to be raised in a secure environment by his or her biological parents. The traditional view of marriage is child focused.
B. The radical feminist and critical legal theorist’s view of marriage.
The moral and legal theory behind the gay marriage effort finds its genesis in radical feminist and queer legal theory, the scholars of which are not laudatory of the traditional institution of marriage.
The motto of the feminist legal theorists and sexual revolutionaries of the late 60s was “smash monogamy”. Marriage was portrayed as an institution of suppression. Now, a generation later, they are fighting for homosexuals to be admitted into the legalized institution of monogamy – marriage.
This isn’t irony. It’s intentional. It’s a deliberate and ongoing effort to redefine how society views and lives marriage. From this radical perspective, the primary purpose of the institution of marriage is to fulfill and validate the individual’s liberty of lifestyle, be it heterosexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, polygamous, or polyamorous. Same sex marriage repurposes marriage from a child-focused institution to an institution focused on validating and facilitating the expressive desires of adults.
Under this individual liberty view of marriage, marriage exists as an institution through which adults live and express themselves on the issues of family and sex.
This radical individualism and radical egalitarianism is not something new. In fact, it’s not even new to the institution of marriage. Starting in the 1970s, we began redefining marriage. Now if marriage doesn’t make you happy, end it. The no fault divorce – divorce rates since the 1980s have vacillated between 40 to 50%.
Instead of a lifelong commitment to the family, we began changing the institution of marriage into a perishable commodity. The institution is still focused on family and children, but only for so long as we feel like it.
The youth of today are the first generations raised in the culture of disposable marriage. It also shouldn’t be surprising then for us to find that a majority of these youth attach little moral, legal, or emotional significance to the institution of marriage being extended to gay adults who want to “enjoy” this celebration of individual liberty.
I respectfully suggest, and having lived through it personally can testify, that this concept of marriage as a disposable commodity is not at all healthy for children nor for the future of this Republic.
The proper view of marriage in a healthy society is that marriage is a life long union between a man and woman for purposes of raising a family together. Marriage should remain child focused.
The underlying issue pertaining to the Marriage Amendment is not about homosexuals raising children. It’s about the purpose of marriage: is it an institution to celebrate individual liberty, or is it a lifelong commitment between a husband and wife for the purpose of raising their children?
Marriage should not be an institution for validating sexual preferences. The institution of same sex marriage would change the institution of marriage from a child-focused institution to an adult-centered institution.
Deliberately conceiving a child with the life plan that he or she will never have a relationship with his or her father is unjust and cruel to the child. Sex is not an irrelevant category for parenting. All else being equal, children do better when there is both a mother and father in the home dedicated to raising them. Further, there is already a crisis of absentee fathers in this country.
The West has led the world in redefining marriage to be about individual liberty interests. There has been a pronounced and undeniable impact, and it has not been family or child friendly.
III. There are serious consequences to redefining marriage to be about the wants and needs of adults.
When marriage stops being primarily about commitment to and raising a family, then marriage stops producing commitment and family.
We talk a lot about the importance of education for equipping the next generation for tomorrow. But there is a more important, a more fundamental imperative for our children’s future: the future first belongs to those that show up. Our Western liberal democracies are showing an ever fading interest in showing up for tomorrow. To the contrary, there is compelling evidence that we are in a demographic death spiral, particularly in Europe, which spiral appears to have started with our redefining the institution of marriage to be about the wants and needs of adults instead of the creation and sustenance of families, i.e. children.
The family in the West is crumbling and our reproductive rates are plummeting.
1. Netherlands in 2001 legalized gay marriage – the public debate there and lawsuits started in earnest in 1989. I was there in 1990. A funny thing happened. Starting in the 1990s, the institution of marriage began to crumble. In 1995, 15% of births were out of wedlock. By 2009, out of wedlock births increased to 41% of births;– fertility rate of 1.78 children per couple. A healthy country requires a fertility rate of 2.1 to sustain its population;
You cannot prove causality – however, free and open sexual expression and treating marriage as a validation of lifestyle choices has not produced more families or more children. The opposite has happened.
The law is normative. It counsels what is acceptable conduct. Gay marriage is about validating the liberty of lifestyle choices. When the institution of marriage is no longer about commitment, family and children – it stops functioning to produce commitment, family and children.
2. Belgium legalized homosexual marriage in 2003 – from 1995 to 2009, out of wedlock births increased from 18% to 42% of births out of wedlock; fertility rate of 1.65
3. Spain legalized homosexual marriage in 2005 – from 1995 to 2009 – out of wedlock births increased from 10% to 32%; fertility rate of 1.48
United States – we presently have a fertility rate of 2.06; our births out of wedlock were 41% in 2008 according to the CDC. Within that, for Asian’s the rate is 17% of births out of wedlock, 28% for whites, 52% for Hispanics, and 72% for blacks. Marriage and procreation are already under great duress in this country. The collapse of the institution in the United States coincides with the advent of the “no fault” divorce here. Making the institution of marriage even more adult and expressive centric will likely only lead to what we see in Europe – a collapsed institution and unsustainable level of procreation.
Procreation is the most fundamental function of a healthy society.
How do these fertility rates compare with countries that have not followed the lead to make marriage about adult expression? You need 2.1 fertility rate to sustain.
Brazil has a fertility rate of 2.2.
Mexico has a fertility rate of 2.5
India – 2.58 fertility rate
Egypt – 2.94 fertility rate
Pakistan – fertility rate 3.52
The nations that have openly and aggressively redefined marriage to be adult focused are perhaps not surprisingly, not having children. Examining the countries that have led the way on gay marriage, we find fertility rates from 1.48 to 1.78. That’s not family friendly.
To the contrary, the West is in a demographic death spiral. This will result in declining and aging populations; changed social relations, economic pressure from shrinking populations; and if given large immigration patterns with disproportionately higher birth rates persist (which is the case in Europe with robust fertility rates within the immigrant Muslim demographic) – we will have entirely changed cultures/societies within a few generations.
When the institution of marriage ceases to be about children, sustainable reproduction dies and you have a dying country.
The institution of the family is in duress across the very Western liberal democracies that have taken it upon themselves to redefine the purpose of marriage. We should not redefine the institution further. Marriage should be about the life long commitment of a man and a woman for the purposes of raising their biological children.
IV. Subterfuge Arguments
There have been numerous allegations that this Amendment would have countless unanticipated ramifications that would hurt children and families.
Most of these claims lack merit.
1. The Amendment cannot be both unnecessary and too dangerous? On the one hand, critics claim the Amendment is unnecessary because it doesn’t change the current status of the law. On the other hand, we’re told that the Amendment will harm heterosexual couples. If the amendment does not change the legal status quo, it should have no affect the day after enacted. The only difference the day after enactment is that the people of North Carolina will control the definition of marriage in North Carolina.
2. What’s the motive? This debate is not about the wording of the Amendment. The people raising these arguments do not want to fix imprecise wording. The wording is not imprecise. The people making these arguments object to the traditional notion of marriage being the institution through which one man and one woman raises a family. They object to the fundamental moral dispute. Not the wording of how it is enacted. They do not support a more carefully worded restriction.
3. We’re not the first. We’re looking at being the 31st State to pass a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The critics’ unintended consequences arguments might be more persuasive if we were the first state to pass such an Amendment. Or maybe if we were the second, third or even fourth state. We’re not. This Amendment was based on studying the 30 current amendments already on the books and enforced in other states. This is a well-worn path. From the 30 prior iterations, the critics have not produced any meaningful evidence of these harms. Our Amendment is nearly identical to Idaho’s amendment, which was passed in 2006. Critics cannot point to one adverse resulting event there. Our Amendment is far less restrictive than Virginia’s, yet again, there is not one example of harm there. Despite amendments in dozens of states for many years, there is no pattern or evidence of adverse, unintended consequences. Critics claims to the contrary are unsubstantiated.
4. Based on a 2011 report by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Marriage Amendment should not adversely affect North Carolina’s economy. A 2011 report by the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked states by economic performance between 1999 and 2009 and by economic outlook. Eight of the top ten economically performing states have amendments banning homosexual marriage. None have legalized same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships. Nine of the 10 states forecasted to have the poorest economic growth have legalized same-sex marriage, civil unions and/or domestic partnerships.
5. The amendment should not affect the enforcement of domestic violence laws. This is perhaps the most spurious of arguments. Out of 30 states having already amended their constitutions, the opponents rely upon an instance in Ohio where a trial court refused to enforce a domestic violence statute based on the Ohio Marriage Amendment. What the critics don’t tell you is that the trial court was reversed by the Ohio State Supreme Court in 2007. The critics rely upon a reversed decision that has nothing to do with North Carolina’s domestic violence statutes. For lawyers, the trial court’s decision is called bad precedent. See Ohio v. Carswell, 871 N.E.2d 547 (Ohio 2007)
6. The amendment will not nullify medical powers of attorney (MPOAs) wills and trusts if the parties are homosexual partners. Under G.S. 32A-18 “any competent person who is not engaged in providing health care to the principal for remuneration, and who is 18 years of age or older, may act as a health care agent.” The relationship between the patient and the designated agent does not matter. The intent of the testator and trustor is the “gold standard” in N.C. for interpreting wills and trusts. The amendment does not change the intent of the testator in either type of these instruments. The amendment explicitly states that it will not affect the rights of parties to enter into private contractual agreements.
7. The Marriage Amendment will not determine the custody and visitation rights of unmarried parents unless their behavior affects the child. Custody orders are based on the parent/child relationship, not on the domestic relationship between the parents. Courts have based custody and visitation on the “best interest of the child.” NCGS 50-13.2(2007) The sexual behavior of the party petitioning for custody or visitation is not determinative except as it affects the child. The “de facto parenting doctrine” was applied in 2010 in Boseman v. Jarrell, 704 S.E.2d 494 (N.C. 2010). The Supreme Court refused to allow adoption to an unmarried same-sex partner but did award joint custody and visitation rights to that non-biological same-sex partner who had become a de facto parent to the child.
8. Homosexual couples will still be able to visit each other in the hospital. I don’t believe there are visitation restrictions currently against homosexual couples in North Carolina, and we have not legalized gay marriage or civil unions. Further, I don’t think a public or private hospital could refuse the designation of an unmarried partner and remain in Medicare. the final rule from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding hospital visitation, which can be found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-11-19/pdf/2010-29194.pdf, is a broad provision that, from my reading of it, basically says that if you want to participate in Medicare you must inform patients of their right to receive visitors and the hospital may not limit those visitation rights based on sexual orientation. I haven’t been able to find specific statistics on the percentage of that accept Medicare funds, but it must be extremely high.
All citizens of North Carolina, gay and straight, are respected and welcomed and they have the right to private commitment ceremonies as they choose. But, they do not have the right to redefine marriage for our State.
Marriage is the foundation institution for creating, sustaining and raising the next generation. When the institution of marriage is no longer about a life long commitment to family and children – it stops functioning to produce commitment, family and children.
For these reasons, I will be voting in favor of the Marriage Amendment.
 “Queer Legal Theory” is not a term of derision but is the term of reference used within academia to refer to a particular school of jurisprudence and its scholars. The leading academic proponent of same sex marriage in North Carolina, UNC Law Professor Maxine Eichner is a well known legal feminist in academia who is well versed in critical legal theory. Her most acknowledged work is a review of feminist and queer legal theory with regard to “sexual citizenship.” See Eichner, Feminism, Queer Theory, and Sexual Citizenship. The paper can be downloaded at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1451059
15 replies on “A Civil and Legal Case for the NC Marriage Amendment”
I think my biggest problem is your definition of marriage as a lifelong commitment. If this were the case, why is there not a constitutional amendment making divorce illegal? Because that would NOT be the will of the people. Which just demonstrates the anti homosexual animus and intent of this proposed law. Also, the NC amendment is not worded like other states amendments, which is what makes the legal interpretation you attempt above not necessarily relevant. I also feel your well meaning arguments and reasons supporting traditional marriage do not contradict the same positive outcomes for married homosexual couples. Several of your arguments, again, are based on data from the failures of heterosexual marriage and out of wedlock children. Again, would not the efforts of traditional marriage proponents be better utilized to “fix” marriage for the 97% of the population for whom marriage is available, as opposed to punitive measures to stop people in the 3% minority who actually wish to get married? I understand (but do not agree with) various religious prohibitions to same sex marriage, but the above arguments appear spurious at best.
Your “biggest problem” with the analysis misses the point. The no-fault divorce regime is the same adult-centric redefining of the purpose for the institution that underlies the case for homosexual marriage. At least the no-fault divorce regime was not a frontal assault against redefining the purposes away from family and procreation. Second, it’s a non sequitur to say that we should allow homosexual marriage because the institution would be better served by reforming divorce law. If you’re saying that we ought to reform no-fault divorce, at least when there’s children to the union, I agree entirely. But that’s another battle. Finally, the NC wording is practically identical to Idaho’s wording and far less restrictive than many other states, to include the Marriage Amendments in Virginia and South Carolina. I plan on posting those other Amendments soon so that readers can judge for themselves ….
Thank you for your comments. Great idea to post the wording of the other states amendments! (thank you in advance) I do think, however, an expansion of marriage rights to include homosexuals is not necessarily “redefining” marriage. To your analogy of the word “gay” one could argue that the word “windows” meant a noun, part of a house, glass, etc., NOT a PC operating system. No one is offended about that. Granted the concept of marriage is far more intricate and far reaching than the word window, but you can still see the point. I remain convinced that the statute is more about homosexual bias than the protection of families, as it purposefully does not allow for civil unions or any other kind of protective legal union for homosexual couples. Do you have any ideas of how gay couples, who you claim are welcomed in NC, can protect their families and assets, or is this merely not a concern of the article? Thank you!
The Marriage Amendment wouldn’t affect the current legal status quo for homosexual partners, however, it would provide a constitutional guarantee that any private, contractual arrangements they enter into regarding their domestic affairs would be honored and enforced. However, I think the private contract clause is to prevent mischief in the future. I’m not aware of any legal authority or precedent in NC now that acts to frustrate private contracts pertaining to homosexual couples. This Amendment wold effectively freeze the status quo on marriage in NC absent a vote by the people.
Kevin – I’ve posted the comparison to NC’s surrounding states …
Thank you Anthony!
I’ve been searching for well-reasoned arguments in favor of Amendment 1, as I am currently inclined to vote against Amendment 1 next month. I just don’t see the proposed amendment as consistent with the protection of personal liberty and individual rights. So basically, your argument in favor of Amendment 1 comes down to your rejection of Article 1, Section 1 of the North Carolina constitution?
Thanks for your response, but no, that’s not what my argument comes down to. Your argument posed as a question is premised on an erroneous understanding of institutions versus liberty and also on an errant understanding of Article I Section 1.
It’s a common misperception — that marriage is a “personal liberty”. Marriage is an institution not a personal liberty (it’s a civic right); on the civic side institutions are established to promote and protect socially beneficial activities. This isn’t about the liberty of being homosexual — the freedom of which will remain in NC regardless of how marriage is legally defined. This is about whether the State should redefine the purpose of marriage from promoting the union of a man and woman to create and raise children (the most important and fundamental of functions) or marriage for the purpose of validating sex and love between adults, even between same sex couples.
Your constitutional analysis doesn’t identify what within Article I Section 1 that you contend creates on obligation for the State to extend the protections and benefits of marriage to homosexual unions. Presumably you are relying upon the liberty clause, which as explained above relies upon the meritless claim that State protection and promotion of homosexual marriage through the institution of marriage is a “liberty”, let alone a liberty right. Second, from Thomas Jefferson through to the authors of the NC constitution, “liberty” was always understood as ordered liberty, which explains why those that wrote the constitutions were very comfortable with laws that significantly restricted private conduct and rights, to include laws against all forms of fornication and sodomy. The right to liberty was never understood to mean and shouldn’t mean absolute liberty, which would mean no restrictions on human freedom.
Nilesh – I forgot to mention, the phrase “Amendment 1” is a bit of a fiction. That’s not what it’s called and won’t be labeled that on the ballot. The opponents have attempted to rebrand it from “marriage amendment” because they don’t want folks focusing on what “marriage” means, thus the opposition’s focus on the subterfuge arguments.
Thank you for your response. This gives me something to study further – the difference between civic institutions and personal liberties. While I consider myself conservative on many issues, I am definitely a social libertarian, and hold the constitutional values of equality of persons and personal liberty higher than any other positions I hold. Up to this point, I have viewed acceptance of the amendment as contrary to both the U.S. and N.C. constitutions. I’m still not convinced of your definition of the institution of marriage, but I do plan to look into it further. I have a suspicion that most persons who are in favor of the amendment are simply Christians who are happy to impose their view of reality on the larger population, rather than to protect minority viewpoints (it’s a step towards establishing a Christian nation, rather than a secular nation allowing liberty to all sorts of people – to me this is as dangerous as an Islamic Caliphate). Thank you again for your detailed analysis of the issue.
Be careful with moral equivalency. It’s illogical to state that because Sharia is dangerous, so too must be Judeo-Christian morality. What modern radicals deliberately do not teach at the academies is that the liberal western tradition (a good thing) is premised in Judeo-Christian norms. The antecedent Roman-Greco cultures were no friend to the weak or individualist. Look at India, a decidedly non-Judeo-Christian country — many strengths but no tradition of compassion for the individual.
Regardless, and to your libertarian sympathies (which I strongly share), it’s a fiction to compartmentalize social and economic morality. The increase of social pathologies in the West corresponds with the increase in national debts and other fiscal irresponsibility. Furthermore and related, failing families and communities create a vacuum for government intervention and involvement. The collapse of the institution of family is, in my opinion, the single greatest causal factor in the increase of government intrusion in the West in the past 50 years …
But Anthony: INdia has a rich tradition of strong familial ties and taking care of their own…much more so than in western societies. Also, speaking of moral equivocation, the immorality of homosexual relationships (and homosexuality itself) is not a given, nor is it indicative of of a “social pathology”. I find it ironic that your aversion to government intervention in family life is exactly opposite to what this amendment will do. It will continue to punish families headed by same sex couples and does absolutely nothing to maintain, protect, preserve or promote heterosexual marriage. I do, however, believe the amendment will pass, it because of any intellectual reasoning, but because of animus towards homosexuals. It is a slippery slope when one religions morality trumps civil law. Think a popular vote on establishing sharia law with a majority Islamic population. I remain convinced it is poor public policy. Thank you for your intelligent and civil responses above, by the way.
Thank you for your responses to me, and I echo Kevin’s sentiments regarding your intelligent and civil comments.
While I still am positioned against the amendment, I want to give as careful consideration as possible to the arguments in favor of the amendment. Ultimately, I will vote in a way which is most consistent with my understanding of the core values expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the United States constitution, and the North Carolina constitution.
I did some time researching the institution of marriage worldwide. Certainly, your argument, based on the modern Western Judeo-Christian view of marriage is sensible within that context. I don’t see in the history of marriage worldwide, that marriage has been, or is necessarily child-focused. It appears to me that throughout history, it was adult-focused, and dealt mostly with property rights. The reality is that family structures have been diverse throughout the history of the world, and that children being born out of wedlock is common, and not simply a modern phenomena.
You made the statement: “Same sex marriage repurposes marriage from a child-focused institution to an institution focused on validating and facilitating the expressive desires of adults.” My investigation into the history of marriage worldwide tells me that marriage has in general been an institution focused on validating and facilitating the expressive desires of adults. It may be that the Judeo-Christian version of marriage has more of a child-rearing focus (it certainly is family/child-focused in the Roman Catholic tradition), but why should that be the sole required type of marriage in a secular country founded to promote life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all?
In my view, the Judeo-Christian view of marriage has been and is the most common conception of marriage in the United States. This is not surprising, given that the majority of Americans identify as Christians. But why should this religious view of marriage be the exclusive form of civil marriage? It’s my opinion that this is an improper conflation for a secular country to espouse. Why should the most populous religious group get to define a civil institution in a secular country, especially one like ours, which proclaims all men to be created equal? The United States is not a Christian nation, despite the largely Judeo-Christian guiding principles which were used during its establishment (I’ll simply reference the Barbary Treaties of the 1780s-1810s as evidence of the secular nature of the U.S.).
If the civil institution of marriage definition is broader in scope than a Judeo-Christian definition of marriage, it doesn’t change the nature of marriage in a Christian context, does it? Are not Christian groups still free to define marriage as they see fit, and engage in their marriage covenant ceremonies before God in a manner consistent with their beliefs?
You argue that this restrictive constitutional amendment is necessary basically to preserve the status quo, that is, to maintain the Judeo-Christian view of marriage as the exclusive form of civil marriage. Suppose we lived in a very different country – one that traditionally defined marriage as polygamous, and that to be officially married in the eyes of the government, you must have at least 2 wives. Suppose that Christians are less than 10 percent of the country’s population, but are petitioning for recognition of monogamous heterosexual relationships as marriages. Would it be acceptable to you that the majority of citizens of that country would have the opportunity to vote to define and affirm only polygamous relationships as official marriages?
Part of your marriage argument relies on comparing the advantages of traditional two parent families to the disadvantages/consequences of single-parent families. Same-sex marriages do not produce single-parent families….they do product single-gender parenting, but there are two parents. I have not taken the time to investigate studies of consequences to children with homosexual parents. However, I’m not convinced it is fair to superimpose the social and economic consequences of single-parent childrearing onto homosexual couple parenting.
You’ve presented as part of your argument correlations (one example is cultural views of marriage and fertility rates, and another is embedded in your statement “The increase of social pathologies in the West corresponds with the increase in national debts and other fiscal irresponsibility”), but it seems to me that you are arguing from positions of causation. Correlation is not causation (post hoc ergo propter hoc). This is important to remember. Your treatment of these issues is insufficient to argue from positions of causation.
Certainly you are correct to point out that there are serious policy and economic consequences connected to social behaviors. It may very well be that the decline in the percent of traditional family units has increased government intrusion. I do agree with Kevin’s observation here – you seem against government intrusion into family matters, but adoption of this amendment adds to government intrusion. Are you saying government intrusion is ok, so long as it has been publicly voted on? I wonder if you would feel the same way if you were not part of the majority ethnicity or religious group.
Thank you again for the discussion. I am really trying to approach this vote with serious deliberation, but I find most people unwilling to discuss the amendment in any depth.
Nidel, I concur with your comments on the global and historical definition of marriage. I also did some internet research and came up with the same information you did. I just do not see this amendment as protecting marriage in any way. I respect the fact that people would vote against this amendment on religious grounds or anti-homosexual sentiment, however I may disagree. I may not agree, but it is every citizens right to vote their conscience. People may vote for Obama because he is black or against him for preciously the same reason. People may vote for or against Romney based on his being a Mormon. People can vote for or against this amendment based on support or disdain for homosexuality. However, all civil opposition is, at best, spurious and not supported by current sociological research. It is fascinating to watch this unfold through history,unfortunately to the detriment of fellow citizens. Kind regards and again, thank you for the civil discourse.
I think it’s more accurate to state that correlation is not per se causation, however, if an action causes another they are correlated. The argument I implied but did not explain in the one-sentence aside is that the moral philosophy of adult-centric marriage is the moral philosophy of self-fulfillment, which is a near antithesis of the Judeo-Christian moral code. The moral philosophy of self-fulfillment or of self is easily (always?) swept up in the current of self-gratification (I’m not sure there’s a distinction). The inability to subordinate the immediate desires of the self for the well-being of others is at the root of our moral and economic decline … it’s also the heart of decadence. History will recognize our assigning trillions(!) of debt to the next generations while at the same time “aborting” from the womb tens of millions from those next generations, as utter moral bankruptcy, which it is. To put it colloquially, the “morality of me” is the causation which gives rise to the corresponding pathologies noted. Homosexual marriage flips the institution from family and child centric to adult liberty centric. More me.
I cannot refute your unstated evidence of historical world-wide patterns of civil institutions of marriage NOT being about the generation of the next generation. In my limited studies outside the West of advanced cultures that sustained healthy societies, I did not find any evidence of state or civic institutions of marriage designed to promote the sexual liberties of adults.