The same-sex marriage (SSM) debate, IMO, boils down to this question: Who owns the term ‘marriage’ and who has the right to define it (or re-define it) on behalf of our entire society?
My old Webster’s Dictionary from college defined marriage as “the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family." Today, Word’s dictionary defines it as, “a legally recognized relationship, established by a civil or religious ceremony, between two people who intend to live together as sexual and domestic partners.” When did this transition occur and on whose authority?
Whereas the original definition was based on centuries of human behavior, accepted social practice and a history of law on the subject, it seems the new definition is to work in the reverse. The elites and special interests will decide how marriage is now defined, and people will behave accordingly. If you see nothing wrong with that process, consider what would happen if a group of white supremacists attempted to unilaterally re-define the word “human” to apply only to Caucasians. This would incite outrage, and rightly so. That should illustrate the dangers of any one group co-opting terms that affect us all.
In order to answer the question as to who should decide the definition of marriage, we need to begin at the beginning. Marriage is not a “right” in the sense that free speech is a right. It is merely a process that makes possible and sets forth the conditions under which societies will agree to legally recognize a union between two people. If all local governments suddenly decided to get out of the marriage business, a couple wanting to marry would have no recourse to the federal government. Marriage is not addressed in the Constitution, which is consistent with the nature of that document. The founders steered clear of promising to protect the kind of “rights” that placed an obligation on other citizens, as marriage does. So how can SSM be a “right” if marriage in and of itself is not a right?
Now let’s talk about civil rights and discrimination. Some people claim that to disallow SSM is discriminatory. First let me say that marriage is discriminatory by design. It leaves out same-sex couples, children and close blood relatives because the intent was to facilitate the unions of adult men and women as a means of promoting a certain foundation for society. If defining marriage as a union between men and women is discriminatory, then what is the legal basis for making it off limits to children and close blood relatives? In fact, what would be the basis for any restrictions whatsoever?
I also disagree with the notion that marriage discriminates against gays due to the fact that no one is prohibited from marrying on the basis of their gender or sexual preference. One could claim that gays don’t derive the same benefit from their access to marry since it is limited to the opposite sex; however, since when is the government in the business of guaranteeing that we all receive an equal benefit from those things we are legally entitled to do? It’s not. Someone who is seven feet tall probably does not enjoy the same comfort when riding a city bus as someone five feet tall. That’s too bad. Not everyone gets to marry someone rich and goodlooking like Brad Pitt. Can they claim discrimination? Certainly they aren’t receiving the same benefit as if they married a poor guy who looks like Michael Moore.
So if there’s no basis for instituting SSM under the Constitution or the Civil Rights Act, we’re still left with the question: who should decide how marriage is defined? And the answer is simple: We, the people, should decide. If we can agree on that much then the reasons each one of us may have for being in favor of SSM or for not being in favor of SSM are irrelevant. To stipulate otherwise brings us right back to square one, where this or that group claims the right to define what marriage is for all of us based on the superiority of their own reasoning.
Now having said all that and made the case for a democratic approach to the issue of SSM, be assured that the Left has no intention of allowing that to happen. They want to be the ones who decide how marriage will be defined. They do everything they can to avoid a vote so that they alone can impose their will upon the rest of us.