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Can an amendment help?

By Keith D. Cummings
web posted March 1, 2004

Last Tuesday, President George W. Bush came out in favor of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect the concept of marriage as an institution between a man and a woman. Recent events in both Massachusetts and San Francisco are forcing this issue to the fore, and the Democrats are putting themselves in a politically untenable position by supporting an issue to which two-thirds of Americans are opposed. But is a aonstitutional amendment a good idea?

The arguments for gay marriage are based on the egalitarian ideal that people should be entitled to marry whom they wish. If you grant the benefit of the doubt that homosexuality is something with which a person is born, these arguments seem to make sense. Since homosexuals are born that way, isn't it inherently unfair to limit their ability to be married? Also, wouldn't the nation as a whole benefit from an environment where gay men and women are encouraged to form life-long bonds with another person? Aren't children better served when they're raised by two loving parents, regardless of gender, rather than a man and a woman who spend so much time at one another's throats?

Those opponents of gay marriage who can avoid attacking homosexuals for being homosexual, often cite the important differences between men and women in the way in which they raise children. Women are naturally more emotional than men. They instill concepts of compassion and empathy in their children, both boys and girls. Men, by contrast, bring a sense of detachment to otherwise emotional decisions. The beautiful balance of positives and negatives in both genders provide children with a better sense of self and a clearer understanding of the world at large.

The knee-jerk reaction to this argument by the other side is that it is sexist and insulting. It implies that no men are emotional while women are incapable of rational thought. Nothing could be further from the truth, but the balance that exists in adults of both genders comes from thousands of years of learning that balance from the two parents, the two sides of the coin that traditional marriage provides.

The second, and more forceful argument against gay marriage is the precedent set by redefining such a fundamental institution. Marriage, as traditionally defined, is so fundamental in human history that there has been no need, before the 1990s, to even discuss changes to the civil laws that govern it. Changing the traditional definition of marriage does create a situation where all bets are off.

If we accept that until 1990 (or 1950 or 1900) marriage was "the union between two adult persons, a man and a woman," what will happen if we change the definition. Proponents of gay marriage argue that the only change to the definition is to eliminate the last few words. In other words, they want marriage to simply be "the union between two adult persons." They argue that the only change is to eliminate the specifics about what the two people must be. The argument accuses opponents of using religion as the basis for "a man and a woman" and it is therefore a violation of the First Amendment.

The problem with the argument is that it is both naïve and wrong. It is naïve because history has taught us that once we allow a change in the norms of society, future changes often follow. It is wrong because it ignores the fact that the same argument they use against traditional marriage is the argument that other proponents of change will use.

If eliminating "a man and a woman" is fine, why should the number "two" be in the definition? Isn't the use of the number arbitrary? If any two people can be good parents, why wouldn't three, four or more people, of one or both sexes be even better? As surely as night follows day, polygamists will use the same argument to make polygamy legal that gays used to make gay marriage legal.

In the 1990s, Apple Computer sued Microsoft for theft of the Macintosh "look and feel." Microsoft's defense was based on the concept that a company can't "copyright an idea." Apple argued the converse (and lost). When Xerox sued Apple for the same infraction for which Apple sued Microsoft, the Cupertino company turned Microsoft's defense against Xerox. The same thing will happen in the in the continued marriage debates.

Any change to the definition of marriage will result in further erosion of the definition until marriage is nothing more than "a union." This can be a union between two, three or seven individuals, possibly of any gender or species. For those who think this is going too far, assuming that bestiality and polygamy will ensue if gay marriages are made legal, they're simply wrong. Before long we could have families in America with a dozen parents; men, women, dogs and Klingons.

However, saving marriage may be a foregone conclusion. Already, the United States Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger, decided to ignore the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment ensures equal protection, but the court ruled, in an Orwellian leap of faith that some people are more equal than others. In McConnell v. The Federal Election Commission over the 2002 Campaign Finance Law, SCOTUS ignored one of the bedrock principles of the American experiment. With straight faces and very little brains, the [in]Justices essentially declared the First Amendment and its protections against controlled speech null and void.

The Supreme Court has become extreme, with morons like Sandra Day O'Connor declaring that "international opinion" is a more important arbiter of law in America than the document that created the court on which she sits. Congress refuses to use the constitutional powers of impeachment to remove these judges. The president signs laws he knows to be unconstitutional in the hope that someone else will take the heat. The sum total of this disaster in Washington is that even with a constitutional amendment, marriage as we know it is doomed.

Keith D. Cummings is the author of Opening Bell, a political / financial thriller. His website is http://www.keith-cummings.com.

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