U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments about Gay Marriage
As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about gay marriage Tuesday, it’s important to realize what the justices are actually being asked to settle. Here’s what you need to know.
There simply is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage. Whatever people may think about marriage as a policy matter, everyone should be able to recognize the Constitution does not settle this question.
Unelected judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and then say the Constitution requires them everywhere. This notion is far out of whack insofar as there may not exist language in the U.S. Constitution, there is nonetheless language within most state constitutions that see the process differently.
Here’s the bottom line: Whatever people may think about marriage as a policy matter, everyone should be able to recognize the U.S. Constitution does not settle this question. Unelected judges shouldn’t insert their own policy preferences about marriage and then say the Constitution requires them everywhere. After all doesn’t this equal the Usurpation of Politics?
There simply is nothing in the Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage. After all, the overarching question before the Supreme Court is not whether a male–female marriage policy is the best, but only whether it is allowed by the Constitution. Nor is it whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is good or bad policy, but only whether it is required by the Constitution.
Everyone in this debate favors marriage equality. Everyone wants the law to treat all marriages in the same ways. The only disagreement our nation faces is over what sort of consenting adult relationship is a marriage. Since the Constitution doesn’t answer that question, the people and their elected representatives should.
As Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito pointed out two years ago, there are two different visions of marriage on offer. One vision of marriage sees it as primarily about consenting adult romance and care-giving. Another vision sees it as a union of man and woman—husband and wife—so that children would have moms and dads.
Laws that banned interracial marriage were unconstitutional, and the Court was right to strike them down. But laws that define marriage as the union of a man and woman are constitutional, and the Court shouldn’t strike them down.
Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife, as well as to be father and mother to any children their union produces. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and woman are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father.
Marriage is society’s best way to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other—and to take responsibility for their children.
At the end of the day, this is a debate about whether citizens or judges will decide an important and sensitive policy issue—in this case, the very nature of civil marriage. This is a debate about whether the Court will exacerbate the Culture War again. Peace and harmony suggest democracy is the better path. The Constitution requires it, too.