Monday, May 28, 2012

Till Death Do Us Part

It now seems likely that voters in Washington State will have an initiative to consider this fall seeking to repeal the same sex marriage law. Should you approve it or reject it?

Most voters see the issue of same sex marriage as a basic human right; if it was not written into the Bill of Rights, it should have been. And today it just seems the right thing to do to make it law that no one should be discriminated against because sexual persuasion. Gays and lesbians should have the same right to marry as any other citizen. But wait. Let's consider marriage.

In all societies both primitive and modern (until very recent times) marriage has been recognized as a benefit to society. For that reason it has been protected by unwritten mores and written laws. What are the benefits? In a word, family. Family is the foundation of every society. Family is where the wisdom and values of a society and the skills necessary to be a functioning member of a society are passed to the next generation, not only by direct instruction but by the example and the role modeling of a father and mother. The institution of marriage and the family are vital to every society.

For that reason the institution of marriage is protected in every society. In modern nations there are laws designed to defend marriage, the partners within a marriage, and the family. There are often economic benefits provided to the family as part of that protection. These are benefits accorded to married couples and families because the institution has value to society.

Same sex marriages do not have the same value to society. Gay and lesbian couples can not model the kind of family that is fundamental to society, the relationship between a husband and wife. They can not pass those roles and values on to children, even if they include children by adoption. They model abnormal relationships that do not propagate the kind of families that benefit society.

Nevertheless, is marriage the right of any who wish to live together and enjoy the benefits of protection regardless of any value to society?

The thinking today is that marriage and the benefits that accrue are rights. To limit those rights is discrimination. But that is wrong. Marriage is not a right. Living as same sex couples (or as unmarried heterosexual couples) may be a right. Being able to visit a friend in the hospital may be a right. Protection from discrimination because of sexual orientation may be a right. Marriage is not. It is difficult to explain that to a generation that considers everything an entitlement, but marriage is not a right.

For that reason traditional marriage between a man and a woman and the protection of that institution needs to be reinstated in Washington. Don't be fooled by that argument that marriage is a right or that denying that "right" to same sex couples is discrimination. Vote to protect marriage.