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July 12, 2003
Column #1,141

Is Gay Marriage Next?

     Days after the Supreme Court declared a Texas sodomy law unconstitutional, Newsweek's cover story, asked: "Is Gay Marriage Next?"

     My answer, alas, is probably. Canada just took that step.

     The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is likely to recognize same sex marriage in the next week or two. Two years ago Vermont passed a law legalizing "civil unions" for same sex partners, giving them virtual marriage with a different name. Both houses of California have passed a similar law and it sits on the governor's desk. Undoubtedly, he will sign it right after Massachusetts upholds same sex marriage.

     If Massachusetts recognizes same sex marriages, thousands of gays and lesbians will flock there to get a marriage certificate. Many will then go back to their home states, and file legal cases demanding recognition as a married couple. They are likely to cite the recent landmark Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, which says:

     "...liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex."

     What's wrong with that?

     I must say at the outset that I agree with the court's conclusion that homosexual conduct is not criminal. Dangerous, but not criminal. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, incredibly states that anal sex "does not involve persons who might be injured." Has he not heard that anal sex is the primary way AIDS has spread, killing a half million Americans?

     I am profoundly concerned that this case will be used to further whittle away at the institution of marriage itself. Historically, state government has limited marriage to the joining of a man and a woman, believing that the best place for children to be born and nurtured is in a home with both a mother and a father.

     However, the issue is far larger than the gay challenge to marriage. "There have been a series of steps since the 1960s to abolish the institutional nature of marriage that has as its core purpose, the rearing of children, says Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia. "We have to recover an understanding of the civilizational purpose of marriage that makes it clear why Christians, Jews, Muslims and conservatives are concerned about same sex marriages.

     "The issue is not health care benefits, but making sure that we have generations of children that are born and reared well. Mothers and fathers bring different gifts to parenting, and make a lifelong commitment for the sake of the children."

     In that light, divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today's challenge by gays. Ronald Reagan, a divorced Governor of California, struck the most serious assault of marriage in 1969 when he signed the first "No-Fault Divorce Law." Similar laws which enabled one person to unilaterally divorce another, swept virtually every state in the 1970s and the number of divorces doubled in a decade, rising from 639,000 to 1,189,000.

     More than a million children have seen their parents divorce every year since 1972. As 35 million children of divorce grew into adults, most formed unions with the opposite sex by cohabitation not marriage. Nearly half broke up short of marriage, but those who married are 50 percent more likely to divorce than couples who never lived together.

     What's this got to do with gay marriage?

     The Boston Globe editorialized Tuesday, that "It is hard to see how anything other than an animus toward gays and lesbians prevents them from obtaining the same `benefits and protections' enjoyed by heterosexual couples."

     If conservatives are to be believed when they denounce gay marriage, I want to know where they stand on No-Fault Divorce.

     For example, Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council in Washington, said that "Unless the American people rise up to defend this indispensable institution, we could lose marriage in a very short time." Roman Catholic leaders in Massachusetts assert that a high court ruling redefining marriage "will have devastating consequences here and nationally."

     I agree. But where were the Catholic bishops when No Fault Divorce laws swept the nation? Silent or ineffectual. And what are Catholic bishops and Family Research Council saying now about the need to reform divorce laws?

     Almost nothing.

     I have argued that a marriage should not be terminated, if children are involved, except by mutual consent, unless there is evidence of grievous fault such as adultery or physical abuse. What was entered into by two willing adults should only be exited by both adults. The reform of No Fault Divorce is Mutual Consent Divorce.

     I also oppose same sex marriages that can not provide a proper home for children.

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