Friday, September 2, 2016

Marriage Doesn’t Violate Anyone’s Liberty

Defining marriage as the union of a husband and a wife does not violate anyone’s liberty.  If the government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage s the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing, adults remain perfectly free to make choices about their relationships.  A redefinition by the state of the unique institution of marriage is not necessary for citizens to live in another relationship of their choosing. … Justice Clarence Thomas devotes his entire dissenting opinion in Obergefell to making this point.

The government should not be in the business of affirming our love lives but should leave consenting adults free to live and love as they choose.  Despite the increasingly heated rhetoric from the advocates of “marriage equality,” there was no ban on same-sex marriage in the decade before Obergefell anywhere in the United States.  In all fifty states, two persons of the same sex could live together, join a religious community that would bless their relationship, and choose from a multitude of employers that offered them the same benefits available to married couples.  Chief Justice Roberts highlighted this in his dissent:  “[T]he marriage laws at issue here involve no government intrusion.  They create no crime and impose no punishment.  Same-sex couples remain free to live together, to engage in intimate conduct, and to raise their families as they see fit.”  No government license or sanction was necessary for any of this.

But isn’t the government’s refusal to bestow the name of “marriage” on same-sex relationships demeaning to the persons in those relationships?  In the Obergefell oral arguments, Justice Kennedy, dismissing the universal and immemorial comprehensive view of marriage, declared that “the whole purpose of marriage” is to bestow “dignity” on a couple.  If he were right, then withholding that “dignity” from same-sex couples would indeed be demeaning.  But John Bursh, the lawyer defending the State of Michigan’s marriage laws, explained that the institution of marriage “did not develop to deny dignity or to give second-class stats to anyone.  It developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, arise from biology.”

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, however, and as far as the state is concerned, biology now has nothing to do with it.  Americans—many of whom thought same-sex marriage would have no effect on them—are about to learn that the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage will have consequences for everyone. …

Ryan T. Anderson, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom,” pg.34-35

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