Testimony, Maryland House of Delegates
In support of HB 963 (constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman)
In opposition to HB 55 and HB 175 (bills to overturn the definition of marriage and permit marriages to persons of the same sex)
By Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council
February 25, 2011
Good afternoon. In the brief time I have to address you, I would like to quickly refute some of the key arguments offered in support of the redefinition of marriage.
Argument 1: The current definition of marriage deprives gays and lesbians of the "fundamental right to marry."
In truth, every individual has access to the institution of marriage on exactly the same terms as every other individual-but subject to exactly the same set of restrictions. No one is permitted to marry a child, a close blood relative, a person who is already married, or a person of the same sex. If it is "discrimination" to limit one's choice of marriage partner in any way, then all of these restrictions would be in question.
Argument 2: Banning same-sex marriage is like banning interracial marriage.
The Supreme Court's landmark decision in Loving v. Virginia never said that a person has an unlimited right to marry the person of their choice. Rather, they said that choice cannot be limited based on race, because of the unique protections against racial discrimination in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U. S. Constitution.
In reality, it is the advocates of same-sex marriage who resemble those who banned interracial marriage. Both sought to burden the institution of marriage in pursuit of social goals that have nothing to do with the public purpose of marriage. One group had the social goal of enforcing racial segregation, a goal which all of us now recognize was unworthy. The other group has a goal of advancing the social acceptance and affirmation of homosexual conduct. While we may differ as to whether that is a worthy goal, it has nothing to do with the historical purposes of marriage, which related to responsible procreation and child-rearing.
Argument 3: Homosexuals suffer serious harm because they are denied the protections of marriage.
In truth, many of the "protections" granted by marriage are already available to same-sex couples through the use of private contractual arrangements, such as wills, durable power of attorney, health care proxies, and life insurance policies.
Argument 4: Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman imposes a religious definition of marriage on civil society.
In truth, the definition of marriage is rooted in nature itself. The sexual union of a man and a woman is what reproduces the human race, and the durable commitment of that man and woman to one another is what provides children with a mother and father. Overwhelming evidence shows that this family structure makes husbands, wives, and their children happier, healthier, and more prosperous than any alternative family form.
Argument 5: Same-sex marriage would harm no one.
In truth, it would result in immediate harms, such as forced subsidization of homosexual relationships, indoctrination of school children, and threats to religious liberty. Longer-term consequences spring from eliminating the incentive marriage gives for responsible procreation, meaning that fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father, more children would grow up fatherless, and birth rates would fall. Other long-term harms are due to the lack of commitment, sexual fidelity, and permanence in homosexual relationships, which would mean that fewer people would marry, remain monogamous, or remain committed for a lifetime. Finally, redefining marriage would put us on a slippery slope, inevitably leading to demands for the legalization of polygamy only one generation from now.
Let me close with a political note. If you vote to legalize same-sex marriage, this issue will be placed on the ballot and your decision will be overturned by the people. Thirty-one out of thirty-one states that have voted on the definition of marriage have upheld marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If you think I'm wrong--if you think the people of Maryland will support same-sex marriage--then put it directly on the ballot by voting for a constitutional amendment, and let the people decide.