Thursday, February 5, 2004
No matter how you feel about gay marriage, we should be able to agree that the citizens and their elected representatives must not be excluded from a decision as fundamental to society as the definition of marriage. There are lessons from my state's experience that may help other states preserve the rightful participation of their legislatures and citizens, and avoid the confusion now facing Massachusetts.
In a decision handed down in November, a divided Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts detected a previously unrecognized right in our 200-year-old state constitution that permits same-sex couples to wed. I believe that 4-3 decision was wrongly decided and is deeply mistaken.
Contrary to the court's opinion, marriage is not "an evolving paradigm." It is deeply rooted in the history, culture and tradition of civil society. It predates our Constitution and our nation by millennia. The institution of marriage was not created by government and it should not be redefined by government.
Marriage is a fundamental and universal social institution. It encompasses many obligations and benefits affecting husband and wife, father and mother, son and daughter. It is the foundation of a harmonious family life. It is the basic building block of society: The development, productivity and happiness of new generations are bound inextricably to the family unit. As a result, marriage bears a real relation to the well-being, health and enduring strength of society.
Because of marriage's pivotal role, nations and states have chosen to provide unique benefits and incentives to those who choose to be married. These benefits are not given to single citizens, groups of friends, or couples of the same sex. That benefits are given to married couples and not to singles or gay couples has nothing to do with discrimination; it has everything to do with building a stable new generation and nation.
Read the entire article on the Wall Street Opinion Journal website.