On Monday night, I participated in a debate with Pastor Patrick Wooden, Professor Maxine Eichnor and State Rep. Deborah Ross on the NC Marriage Amendment. The forum was sponsored by Tom Campbell of NC Spin. Pastor Wooden and I spoke in favor of the amendment, the other two opposed. Mr Campbell did a good job controlling the debate and moving the topics along. WRAL recorded the entire debate and has it on their website here. We each had four minutes for an opening statement and were to have one minute for closing statements, with the better part of two hours of debate and Q&A between. We ran late, so our closing statements were 30 seconds — what follows is what I prepared in advance for the opening and closing:
April 30, 2012
Marriage is a complex subject. It is a legal term, a religious term, a civil institution, and a personal commitment.
The Marriage Amendment presently before voters addresses the legal and civil institution of marriage. This is not a vote on private religious ceremonies, or about making homosexuality legal or illegal.
Civil institutions like marriage exist to serve a public purpose. Civil institutions exist to influence behavior, to encourage or discourage human conduct.
Since its existence as a colony some 350 years ago, the institution of marriage in North Carolina has been the legal union of one man to one woman for the purpose of having a family. Marriage provides an incentive and protection for a man and a woman to bond for the purpose of creating and raising the next generation in a secure environment.
The State’s interest in marriage is the generation of the next generation. The reproduction and healthy upbringing of the next generation is the most fundamental of social functions. It is that fundamental and foundation function which warrants government incentives and protection of marriage.
Since the 1960s, we’ve been redefining the purpose of sex, to be less about procreation and more about recreation. Starting in the 1970s, we began redefining marriage to be less about the commitment to raising a family and more about adult liberty and satisfaction.
The results of this so-called sexual revolution and it’s cousin the no-fault divorce have not been good for families or for children. Homosexual marriage takes society further down the road of redefining the most fundamental of institutions to be about the liberty interests of adults and not about one man and one woman raising a family.
The western liberal democracies have been engaged in redefining sex and marriage away from procreation since the 1960s. The results have been catastrophic, with most of our liberal democracies suffering skyrocketing rates of single parenthood and collapsed fertility rates. The data is unambiguous. The West is committing demographic suicide.
Homosexual marriage is not the answer. Same sex marriage converts marriage from being child centric to being adult centric. Marriage must be about encouraging men and women to create children and stick it out through good and bad to raise those children together as a father and mother team.
Children raised by their mother and father is the gold standard. Regardless of how much two homosexuals might love each other, two men do not replicate a child’s mother. Similarly, two women do not replicate a child’s father. There is no public purpose served in incentivizing homosexual unions and the state should not incentivize homosexual parenting, nor should the state incentivize polygamous or polyamorous parenting or any other substitute for one man and one women raising their children. Keep in mind that we’re talking about incentivizing behavior through a civil institution. This is about government incentives, this is not about making relationships legal or illegal.
The homosexual lobby has conducted a public relations scare campaign to convince voters about the Marriage Amendment. The homosexual lobby has tried the same tactics in dozens of prior campaigns across the United States. In 30 out of 30 earlier votes, the voters knew better. And in 30 out of those 30 prior amendments, no such harms have come to pass. The arguments are legally frivolous and often outright false.
The homosexual lobby claims that the NC language is radical or somehow vague or mysterious. These claims are utterly false. Please read the Marriage Clauses in the Constitutions of Virginia and South Carolina. Look at Idaho’s also. It’s Amendment is six years old and nearly identical to NC’s. Please also check Black’s Law dictionary, the Federal DOMA, and about a dozen other State’s already passed marriage amendments. North Carolina’s amendment is very well written and would leave the decision of whether to redefine marriage in the hands of the citizens, and not radical lawyers, judges or politicians.
Rob Agnelli recently said,
Because marriage has such a profound effect on society as a whole, the state has a compelling interest in it. … Marriage as a social institution possesses certain qualities that offer an irreplaceable benefit to society. Through the lifelong commitment of the spouses, the most stable conditions for raising children are created. Through sexual differences parents provide their children the full range of human love that comes by being raised by their mother and father. Marriage binds parents and children together and thus serves the common good. No other relationship involving parents and children can adequately substitute for these natural ones.
The more marriage ceases to be about the life long commitment of a man and a woman to raise a family, the less marriage produces life long commitment, and the less it produces family and children.
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 and demand that the state incentivize and promote homosexual unions through the institution of marriage.
Marriage is the foundation institution for creating, sustaining and raising the next generation. The Marriage Amendment leaves it in the hands of North Carolinians, and not attorneys, to keep it that way.