Tags: Government's | Role | Define | Marriage?

Is It Government's Role to Define Marriage?

Sunday, 20 March 2005 12:00 AM

Likewise, call your same-gender mate your "spouse" if you wish, even have a "wedding" in an agreeable church under your First Amendment rights, but don't say the government is denying your rights if it doesn't expand

The government obviously can define what the military is or is not, and it had better, because the military is a fundamental structure providing for civilization to carry on. So is marriage. And since government is in the high-stakes business of protecting and providing and taxing and all the rest, government has an obvious

Operating under statutory definitions is what government does. It routinely defines individuals according to both accidents of birth and choices of behavior. Things like citizenship, age, tribal membership, gender, military veteran status, and tax brackets are examples of how the government's definition will result in different individuals being treated unequally in all sorts of ways.

So, where does this leave individuals, who are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights? As always, they compete with rights that governments claim and enforce. The perceived needs of the whole body politic have almost always trumped individual rights wherever there has been government.

If I act on my inborn claustrophobia and cruise in the breakdown lane at rush hour, the state will deny my individual right to do so. If my inborn nature is to love and cohabit monogamously with someone of my own gender, the state will deny my claim on the benefits it provides married people, and the terminologies and ceremonies my partner and I may have adapted for our situation won't matter.

In these cases, the state perceives my individual freedom as costing the whole body politic too much, and I am denied an individual right.

The flippant question "How does their gay marriage threaten your straight marriage?" isn't as important as the question how redefining marriage to include same-sexed partners may threaten society. And the answer is that we don't know, because we haven't seen it anywhere before in history! We know at least that the benefits and standing that government gives married people do cost some money and do affect some choices.

Redefining marriage – an institution older than church

Here in the Golden State, where legislation passed prohibiting employers from firing male employees for wearing women's clothing to work, gay marriage supporters do have a fighting chance to get marriage redefined the old-fashioned way – by winning a sufficient number of votes in the Legislature.

Sitting judges in just a few courts (Judge Richard Cramer here in California most lately) have now exhibited an embarrassing professional failure to exercise the time-honored principle of judicial restraint. Redefining marriage is law-giving of the first order, and our constitutional system entrusts such power only to the legislative branch.

A few ham-handed judges are standing that principle on its head, bringing us what seems likely to become operationally a constitutional crisis. In this context the constitutional amendment remedy will not be an extreme one; it will be necessary and appropriate. It will moor us to the Preamble to our Constitution and to Roman numeral one in our social contract. We the People are sovereign here.

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Likewise, call your same-gender mate your "spouse" if you wish, even have a "wedding" in an agreeable church under your First Amendment rights, but don't say the government is denying your rights if it doesn't expand The government obviously can define what the...
Government's,Role,Define,Marriage?
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2005-00-20
Sunday, 20 March 2005 12:00 AM
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