Why Marriage Matters

Policy makers have a compelling interest in promoting a culture of marriage and strengthening family formation.

Marriage & Law

  • Marriage is a private matter, why should we care who gets married?
  • Marriage is a private matter, why should we care who gets married?

    The purpose of marriage is to promote a complementary sexual and emotional union between men and women characterized by caretaking, sharing of resources, procreation, and long-term commitment in order to encourage the well--being of the man and woman who marry and also the protection of children and the reproduction of society (www.marriagedebate.com). Like it or not, our public policy affects marriages and family formation, and because marriage is so foundational to a civil society, it is not just a private matter but affects entire communities and cultures.

  • How does redefining marriage affect my marriage or family?
  • How does redefining marriage affect my marriage or family?

    "Same-sex marriage advocates want to force everyone to dramatically and permanently alter our definition of marriage and family. The great, historic, cross-cultural understanding of marriage as the union of husband and wife will be called bigotry in the public square. The law will teach your children and grandchildren that there is nothing special about mothers and fathers raising children together, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a bigot" (www.nationformarriage.org). Redefining marriage so as to include same sex relationships will inevitably lead to calls for extending marriage to any group of consenting and affectionate adults --including more than two adults. "Husband," "wife," "mother," and "father" would lose their meaning.

  • What do state and federal laws say about marriage?
  • What do state and federal laws say about marriage?

    Thirty states have defined marriage as between one man and one woman by amending their constitutions. Only five states have neither a statute nor a constitutional provision prohibiting same-sex "marriage": Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa legalized same-sex "marriage" as a result of high court decisions. New Hampshire and Vermont legalized same-sex "marriage" as a result of legislation. Same-sex "marriage" is also legal in Washington, D.C (www.domawatch.org), where D.C. leaders refused to let the matter come before the people for a vote.

    At the federal level, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and provides that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex. However, their are multiple legal challenges to DOMA and the Obama Administration has chosen not to defend this duly enacted, bi-partisan law in court.

  • Wouldn't extending marriage benefits to more people be good for society?
  • Wouldn't extending marriage benefits to more people be good for society?

    No. The legal and financial benefits of marriage are not an entitlement to be distributed equally to all (if they were, single people would have as much reason to consider them "discriminatory" as same-sex couples). Society grants benefits to marriage because marriage has benefits for society--including, but not limited to, the reproduction of the species in households with the optimal household structure (i.e., the presence of both a mother and a father). Homosexual relationships, on the other hand, have no comparable benefit for society.

FRC's Tony Perkins responds to our readers' questions:


"Interracial marriage used to be banned in some states, but we now recognize this policy as wrongheaded and immoral. How is current opposition to same-sex marriage any different?"

Racism is contrary to Jesus's teaching to "Love your neighbor [that is, every human being] as yourself" and to the Bible's teaching that there is no racial distinction to God's promises (Gal 3:28-29). Jesus told his disciples, "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19-20). Scripture affirms that God "made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). Therefore, we can emphatically state that interracial marriage is not sinful because God makes no distinction between the races. Attempts to justify laws banning interracial marriage based on the teachings of scripture represent a warped and unfaithful interpretation of God's Word, and represent a very dark period for the church in American history.

However, laws against interracial marriage and contemporary efforts to enshrine the definition of marriage in law are significantly different. On the one hand, laws forbidding interracial marriage sought to add a requirement to marriage that is not intrinsic to the institution of marriage. Allowing a black man to marry a white woman, or vice versa, does not change the fundamental definition of marriage, which requires a man and a woman. Redefining marriage, on the other hand, would be to discard this most basic requirement for marriage, that is, one man and one woman. Those who claim that some churches held interracial marriage to be morally wrong fail to point out that such "moral objection" to interracial marriage stemmed from historical and cultural factors rather than accurate, orthodox biblical teaching.