I have come to believe that if three people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.
One day, my son came home from playgroup and told my wife and I that he desires to marry both of his friends – a boy and a girl. Henceforth, I have decided that it’s time for government and society to recognize that the term marriage should include a threesome.
OK – that is not exactly the story of Senator Rob Portman’s post-election evolution on the issue, but it is quite close. I only changed one word of his in my first sentence – I swopped out the word “two” for “three.”
There is no other issue that is debated with more non-sequiturs and red herrings than the issue of marriage. We hear cries for compassion, sympathy, fairness, equality, choice, love, pursuit of happiness and fulfillment,” and even liberty. What supporters of changing the reality known as marriage fail to comprehend is that you can no sooner change the institution of marriage than you can change the color of the sky.
The definition of marriage does not emanate from the government; rather it is a fixed institution of the civil society. In its interaction with the civil society, governments recognize the institution of marriage the same way it recognizes any other fixed institution when the need arises. If three or four individuals seek equality of choice, and in their ‘pursuit of happiness and fulfillment’ they seek to form a common bond and live together as husband and wife, they are at liberty to do so. They can choose any lifestyle that strikes their fancy. They can eve hire a band and celebrate. They can also choose to get married as well and pursue that fulfillment with one human from the opposite gender. But none of that changes the reality of marriage.
A man cannot marry a woman who is already married. A man cannot marry his mother. A man cannot marry the two women he loved back in his college years. A man cannot marry his pet. Hence, the pursuit of love and happiness, along with the liberty argument, is a total non-sequitur to the definition of marriage, irrespective of any governmental sanction. When states must inevitably interact with people and civil societal institutions, they must deal with reality. Marriage will never change, much like the definition of man and woman can never change. When government, no matter how small and confined, must inevitably recognize distinctions between man and women, it cannot change the definition of gender. Woops…they are already doing that with the breakdown of separate bathrooms in public schools.
Whatever religious believes you might hold with regards to the morality of certain sexual behavior, they are immaterial to the definition of marriage. Moreover, even if the government changes this reality and recognizes the absurdity of same-sex marriage, it will still discriminate against those who want to marry married women, multiple spouses, family members, or a man’s best friend.
Ultimately, marriage is more than a lifestyle choice or a bond based on love. It is a fixed institution that perpetuates genealogy and humanity at large through a bond built on love. That institution has only worked in one way, and that will never change. Two humans of the same gender cannot procreate. That might be unfair, and some might consider suing God for this malfeasance, but it is just as unfair as the inherent exclusionary nature of the institution that has perpetuated all mankind.
With this in mind, the idea that people have a natural and constitutional “right” to a same-sex marriage – to the point at which states are forced to include them in their legal definition of marriage – is patently absurd. It would represent a much more egregious judicial overreach than the jurisprudence employed in Roe v Wade.
Senator Portman invokes Ronald Reagan and even the Bible in his conversion on this issue. He is free to hold any beliefs he wishes; he is free to reject the Bible, but he is not free to reinterpret the Bible. In Genesis, the foundation for sexuality is established in the first chapter, “So G-d created man in his own image, in the image of G-d he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27). In the second chapter, the institution of marriage is established, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).
Those foundations are inviolable and eternal, from a Biblical standpoint. And for good reason.
In order to sustain a society where everyone can enjoy the maximum degree of liberty, there must be a robust civil society. The breakdown of the civil society leads to anarchy and/or the growth of government. The deterioration of civil society and its most important institution has fueled our big government problems. According to the Heritage Foundation, nearly three-quarters of all welfare payments are sent to single-parent families. Destroying the institution of marriage itself will not lead to a generation of ubiquitous liberty and scarce government intervention. It will lead to a government-run-all society. The vacuum left by a lethargic civil society is always filled by robust forces that are antithetical to the ideals of liberty.
Then again, perhaps all 300 million of us will one day form one large bond under the auspices of the federal government. We can call it a marriage.
Cross-posted at The Madison Project