Marriage and Culture

A  Judge in California recently ruled that the State’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. In his ruling the judge opined that the majority of voters in California who voted for the measure did so out of an irrational bias toward homosexuals because of “unscientific” and “religious” views.  The Judge also noted that the law was unconstitutional because it denied equal protection for homosexuals who choose to marry as well as due process of law.

I do not read many legal opinions but the profile of this one was interesting so I read it-all 136 pages.  In it the judge’s biases are clearly identified.  In his view the plaintiffs were clearly the experts on marriage parading a bevy of expert witnesses who gave sound, rational, scientific, and legal testimony while the defendants were dull traditional moralists and  fearful souls making irrational and illegal arguments in favor of their position.  The judge concluded that evidence showed those in California who voted for Proposition 8 were people whose moral and religious views formed a belief that led them to conclude that “same-sex marriages are different from opposite-sex marriages”. And, this does not provide a “rational basis” for supporting such a belief.

In other words if you have a moral or religious view about anything to do with this issue you are not rational and  rationality is the only basis for determining anything legal.  He also says that Californians that voted for this Proposition have a private prejudice that makes them feel superior to homosexuals who want to marry.  In the end he agreed with the Plaintiffs who contend that:

1.  Marriage and marriage laws have changed over time.

2. Marriage serves many and more purposes than procreation.

3.  Same-sex marriages will have little or no effect on opposite-sex marriages.

4. Banning same-sex marriages was done by a majority whose private, moral, and/or religious views punished an unpopular majority.

I suppose that his ruling has to put our nation on notice because in the U.S. code marriage and spouse are defined in all laws as: “…the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” (Title 1.7)

There are more issues related in this opinion but these seem to me to be the significant ones.  So with the Judge’s opinions in hand I have a few questions for the future regarding marriage.

1.  What is the meaning of “marriage” from now on.  If this ruling is upheld then marriage as an institution or even a word will change forever.  If same-sex marriage is to be based on “rationality” then is it safe to assume that one day a person will be free to marry his/her pet?  How about two men and three women?  How about a woman and her son or another close relative?  I don’t think I’m being moral or religious to wonder if marriage will have any meaning in the future thanks to a judge who thinks he is “rational.”

2.  If the definition of marriage changes or simply goes away then what about the words “husband”, “wife”, or “family.”  If those terms can mean anything then they eventually mean nothing.  They might become as significant as “uh” or “huh.”  I don’t think my questions are moral or religious but rational.

The Judge has determined by his own “rational” authority that marriage is in no way to be governed by moral or religious views so that means marriage is only what someone determines it is.  In the end it is a choice governed by the reasoning of those who seek it.  Those arguing for the repeal of the California law define marriage as simply a choice of a couple who make a commitment to remain with one another and join economically to support one another in material needs.  But “rationally” this seems to be only one view and may limit another persons right for equal protection and due process if they choose for example to marry their goat, their three best friends or their favorite aunt.

I hope higher courts see the bias of this judge’s ruling and the danger he has set in motion.  If he is upheld then a cornerstone of our nation will have eroded.  Children and women will find less protection and more abuse and neglect.  Public discussion of marriage will evaporate to a meaningless political/legal war of words.

I will admit that I do not know all the legal implications of this ruling nor have I given opinions on all that is in the judge’s document.  I have no desire to see anyone discriminated against or denied rights provided by our Constitution.  But some relationships do not qualify for marriage traditionally, morally, religiously, or rationally. The judge is wrong in this one.  If we are fortunate he will be reversed and our nation will be stronger for it.

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