North Carolina voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The next day, President Obama reversed his support for traditional marriage and returned to a previously stated position that same-sex couples should be granted the right to marry. Now a decision by a federal appeals court in Boston has thrust the issue into the headlines once again.
The ruling by the First Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals found Section Three of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage in federal law as between a man and a woman, to be unconstitutional. The Court did not address Section Two, which stipulates that states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The Court stayed its own ruling pending appeal which will almost certainly reach the Supreme Court.
There are many myths and much misinformation surrounding the same-sex marriage issue:
Myth #1: Defense of marriage laws are “gay marriage bans.”
While the media and homosexual activists often refer to these laws as “gay marriage bans,” in reality they do often do not ban anything. The laws simply create a definition of marriage according to the government. The heart of the federal DOMA simply states, “… 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.''
Similarly, the North Carolina amendment reads, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
In other words, most state laws do not prevent same-sex couples from entering into private contracts or holding private religious marriage ceremonies. Likewise, nothing prohibits private companies from offering benefits to same-sex partners of their employees. Definition of marriage laws only mean that the government will not recognize, sponsor or encourage the union of same-sex couples.
The marriage amendment to the Georgia Constitution is more ambiguous on the issue of private ceremonies. Article I Section IV Paragraph I (a) reads, “This state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state.” In reality, however, Georgia does not persecute same-sex couples. Georgia would not be likely to object to a private religious ceremony and does not penalize companies who choose to offer benefits to same-sex partners.
Myth #2: Marriage laws violate the Equal Protection Clause.
In reality, rights are held by individuals, not by couples. This means that people of homosexual orientation have exactly the same marriage rights as heterosexuals. No one, not even a heterosexual, has the right to marry anyone they choose or whoever (or whatever) they happen to love.
According to USmarriagelaws.com, all 50 states have laws against bigamy, marrying more than one person at a time. All 50 states also have laws establishing a minimum age of consent to marry. In Georgia, the minimum age is 18, but 16-year-olds can marry with the consent of their parents or a judge according to Findlaw.com. Some states recognize common law marriages. Georgia is among the states that do not. Some states don’t allow cousins to marry. Georgia is among the 26 that do.
Definition of marriage laws are simply one more example of states legislating how their citizens want marriage to be treated. The laws apply equally to everyone regardless of sexual orientation.
Myth #3: The ruling will require states to recognize same-sex marriage under the Full Faith and Credit Clause.
Proponents of same-sex marriage argue that the Constitution requires traditional marriage states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in same-sex marriage states because the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution requires that states recognize “the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State….” In their view, this means that if a state like Massachusetts issues a marriage certificate to a same-sex couple, every other state is constitutionally required to recognize it. Section Two of the DOMA specifically states that federal law should not be interpreted this way.
In this case, the ruling by the First Circuit does not address Section Two. Subsequent lawsuits probably will. The Supreme Court could also choose to invalidate the entire DOMA when it hears this or other cases on the issue, but the question of the Full Faith and Credit Clause has not yet been addressed by the courts. In the future, Georgia might be forced by the courts to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states even though Georgia law prohibits such marriages.
Myth #4: The DOMA is inconsistent with state’s rights and federalism.
Proponents present the DOMA as a case of the federal government usurping the state power to define marriage. In reality, the DOMA defines marriage only for the federal government. Section Two of the DOMA protects state rights by stipulating that traditional marriage states cannot be forced to recognize a same-sex marriage from states that have chosen to recognize same-sex marriages. Lawsuits to mandate same-sex marriages and invalidate state definition of marriage laws usurp the will of the people and their elected representatives.
Myth #5: Only religious nuts oppose same-sex marriage.
Proponents of same-sex marriage portray supporters of traditional marriage as bigots and religious fanatics, while arguing that the U.S. is not a theocracy and that the separation of church and state prohibits the government from taking a religious view of marriage. In reality, much of the support for traditional marriage can be traced to secular arguments.
It is in the vital national interest of the state to ensure that children, the next generation of taxpayers, have a stable family unit. There is strong evidence that children need both a mother and a father. It seems that the absence of fathers is particularly damaging to children. In the book “Life Without Father,” David Popenoe noted that the absence of fathers was strongly linked to many societal ills. Sixty percent of rapists come from fatherless homes, as do 72 percent of young murderers and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates. When viewed in these terms, there is a compelling government interest to encourage marriage relationships between men and women as a stable unit for childrearing. The burden of proof should be on those who seek to overturn thousands of years of history, tradition, and law that point to both a mother and a father as the best unit for raising children.
Even though not all heterosexual couples bear children, the potential is always there. Even couples who cannot have or do not want to have children have the biological possibility of procreating, whether purposely or by accident. Additionally, the same need for a stable, nurturing family unit with parents of both genders applies to adopted children as well.
Further, there is the argument that recognizing same-sex marriages would be expensive for cash-strapped governments. The First Circuit ruling estimates that more than 100,000 couples are affected by the federal DOMA. Recognizing these marriages would generate untold billions of dollars of costs that were not planned for by government actuaries. Likewise, extending marriage tax credits to same-sex couples would mean millions or billions in lost tax revenues. With governments already paying out more in benefits than they take in, they simply cannot afford to pay out more in benefits.
Other rights that are specifically enumerated in the Constitution have limitations as well. The First Amendment does not permit a person to yell “fire” in a crowded theater or protect a slanderer. The Second Amendment does not mean that a person can manufacture pipe bombs in their home and permits states and cities to enact reasonable regulations on guns.
If marriage is merely a statement of love without a societal consequence, then why limit it to only two people? Why not allow polygamy as well? Why limit it to people at all? Recent news stories have detailed how different women have shown their love by marrying the Eiffel Tower, the Berlin Wall, a dog, and a dolphin, One woman even married herself.
Myth #6: Definition of marriage laws are similar to interracial marriage bans.
Same-sex marriage proponents point to older state laws against interracial marriage as a similarly unjust regulation. In reality, interracial marriage was very different from same-sex marriage. Where same-sex couples are biologically incompatible and infertile, interracial couples were of the male and female genders and created a fertile couple.
Bans on interracial marriage did violate the Equal Protection Clause because they treated people differently based on race. Under these laws, two men, one black and the other white, did not have an equal chance to marry a given woman. Definition of marriage laws are different in that they hold that the state will not recognize the marriage of any person to any other person of the same gender, treating everyone equally.
Myth #7: Same-sex couples need marriage so they can visit in the hospital.
The need to be able to visit partners in the hospital has long been a justification for same-sex marriage, but Nancy Polikoff, an American University law professor and gay rights activist, wrote as far back as 2008 that, “Hospital accreditation standards include those who play a significant role in a patient's life, even if not legally related, within the definition of family. Neither gay nor straight couples should have to marry to visit each other in the hospital.”
Myth #8: Same-sex marriage is growing in acceptance.
There is some polling support for this idea, but it is far from proven. For example, polls in North Carolina seemed to indicate that the marriage amendment there might be defeated or that the vote would be close. In reality, the amendment passed by a margin of more than 20 percent.
One theory is that people are not being honest with pollsters because of the heavy-handed rhetoric used by the media and the left on the issue. For whatever reason, a majority of voters has never endorsed same-sex marriage, even in blue states like California and Oregon. In most cases, when the issue went to the voters it wasn’t even close. Georgia’s marriage amendment passed with 76 percent in favor according to CNN. To date, 38 states do not recognize same-sex marriage. Only 12 do.
Myth #9: Conservatives are using same-sex marriage as a wedge issue and attempting to force their morality on others.
The reality is that no conservative wants to spend this election season talking about same-sex marriage. The central issue to the 2012 election is the economy and whether President Obama’s handling of it merits extending his contract for another four years.
When same-sex marriage is in the news, most often it is because the left has made it an issue. As the ruling itself notes, the federal DOMA was a response to a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit filed by homosexual activists. Hawaii’s legislature then defined marriage in 1994 and Congress passed the DOMA, introduced by Georgia congressman Bob Barr, with broad bipartisan support in 1996. President Bill Clinton signed the DOMA into law. When judges in Massachusetts ruled in 2003 that the state could not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, other states started enacting defense of marriage laws to prevent judicial activists from issuing edicts redefining their own marriage laws.
In reality, as Ryan Anderson wrote in National Review, the question is not whether same-sex couples will be allowed to express their love for each other; “the question is whether the rest of society will have the freedom to choose which type of relationship to honor as marriage” and whether a minority can force their view of morality on the nation at large.
Read this article on Examiner.com: