Counterfeit Conservatism and Counterfeit Marriage
Today marks the day that the Supreme Court hears the case that seeks to overturn Proposition 8, the successful effort by California voters that placed the natural definition of marriage in the state constitution. Tomorrow the same court will hear the case for and against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the bi-partisan 1996 law that defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of a man and a woman while also protected the rights of states to do the same.
If you are to believe the national narrative being fed to us by the mainstream media over the last few days, one would believe that supporting same-sex "marriage" is a "conservative" principle. In truth such support and its abhorrence of natural law, federalism and libertarian thought brings more into question the media's definition of "conservative" than their definition of marriage.
As a Christian, I believe that man and/or government has about as much right to redefine what composes the institution of marriage as they do the right to redefine the composition of water. However, in reaction to those opposed to natural law, Congress and the states sought to protect the vulnerable foundation of our society with state constitutional amendments (31, over three fourths of the states have taken this extraordinary step), state laws (only New Mexico leaves it undefined), and the passage of DOMA.
There is a very real threat that states will be required to recognize other states' same-sex "marriages," either through misuse of the U.S. Constitution's full faith and credit clause or by judicial fiat. DOMA was passed precisely to preclude a same-sex "marriage" in one state from binding in other states. Though he recently switched positions on marriage, one of the architects of DOMA, former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) had earlier made arguments on federalism's case for DOMA which remain solid: "As any good federalist should recognize, this law leaves states the appropriate amount of wiggle room to decide their own definitions of marriage or other similar social compacts, free of federal meddling."
Even when the first state in the nation had same-sex "marriage" foisted on it by the state supreme court, the Massachusetts court appealed to states-rights principles in defending its decision: "We would not presume to dictate how another State should respond to today's decision. But neither should considerations of comity prevent us from according Massachusetts residents the full measure of protection available under the Massachusetts Constitution. The genius of our Federal system is that each State's Constitution has vitality specific to its own traditions . . . ."
Millions of voters across the United States have voted to protect marriage in their state constitutions. Marriage predates government. Marriage is society's least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of children as well as society. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and to take responsibility for their children. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. Marriage has a public purpose that transcends its private purposes and that is why 41 states affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.
We are a nation of free thinkers and I welcome debate. However, the false narrative that conservative views on marriage are "evolving" is about as real as the Easter Bunny. Conservatives who change their view on "marriage" are leaving behind conservative principles in their decision. You can be for same-sex "marriage" and you can be conservative--however you can not be both.
Marriage on the March
Like so many of you, Lawana and I have sought to model a Christian marriage for our children, and to "train them up in the way they should go." With 41 states having enshrined marriage into law, marriage remains foundational to our understanding of American civil society. And yet it seems like every day there's a new opinion poll showing that support for marriage among the millennial generation is waning. According to one poll, 44% of those surveyed between 18 and 29 thought that marriage itself was becoming "obsolete"--and that doesn't even address the redefinition of marriage.
To explain what's happening, we have to begin by acknowledging that the millennial generation (those roughly 18-30) have inherited a culture with a flawed view of marriage. Think about it. Many of them have experienced first-hand the consequences of adults prioritizing their own happiness over the best interest of their children while at the same time watching Hollywood's fictional portrayal of marriage (and life in general) as a nonstop sexual binge. This is the first generation to feel the combined impact of the sexual revolution, abortion on demand, and "no-fault" divorce. It shouldn't shock us then, that this generation has become so confused about marriage. The question we need to think deeply about is how do we begin to turn these trends around? How do we successfully pass the torch to the next generation when it comes to the vital institution of marriage?
For most of my professional life, I've dedicated myself to strengthening marriage and families, but it's true that each generation must take up the cause of truth in its own way and in its own day. That's why it was so encouraging to talk on our radio show with Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, and Chris Marlink, FRC's social media manager, about a new effort being led by millennials called Marriage Generation. The mission of Marriage Generation is to lead the conversation on marriage, restore a right understanding of marriage among millennials, and to revive a marriage culture in America. That's no small task, but I want you to be encouraged today that a new generation of young leaders is standing firm. They understand the meaning and enduring value of marriage, and they're not giving up. In fact, they're just getting started. As thousands marched for marriage in Washington today, you can take heart knowing that among their ranks was a new generation ready to stand for truth in love.
FRC in the News and at the Supreme Court
The FRC team has been busy today at the Supreme Court. As the oral arguments began this morning, Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg debated marriage on CNN's "Newsroom," which you can watch here. Ken Klukowski, Director of FRC's Center for Religious Liberty, wrote an article that appeared on Breitbart.com that provides insight into the Hollingsworth v. Perry case, which the Supreme Court heard today. Ken made numerous media appearances including The Mike Huckabee Show today, as well as BBC World News. Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell talked with John Fund on Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show" about the slippery slope of same-sex "marriage." Nicole Hudgens, an intern at FRC, wrote an article that appeared on Townhall.com about how the millennial generation should embrace truth and promote natural marriage. Senior Fellow Cathy Ruse's remarks before the Marriage March audience were covered by C-Span. You can watch her remarks below.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.