The recent decision on marriage by the Supreme Court of the United States is wrong in every respect. The most egregious respect is that the Court has corrupted the meaning of the concept of marriage.
The Court cited two bases for its decision: primarily, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and, secondarily, the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of “the equal protection of the laws.”
The dissent of Justice Thomas obliterates the due-process argument. I recommend reading Thomas’s dissent in full.
The equal-protection argument has, in my judgment, more merit than the due-process argument. But Chief Justice Roberts, who deserves chief blame for the continued existence of Obamacare, nevertheless makes an important point in the following paragraph (on p. 24) of his dissent:
It is important to note with precision which laws petitioners have challenged. Although they discuss some of the ancillary legal benefits that accompany marriage, such as hospital visitation rights and recognition of spousal status on official documents, petitioners’ lawsuits target the laws defining marriage generally rather than those allocating benefits specifically. The equal protection analysis might be different, in my view, if we were confronted with a more focused challenge to the denial of certain tangible benefits. Of course, those more selective claims will not arise now that the Court has taken the drastic step of requiring every State to license and recognize marriages between same-sex couples.
Had there been “a more focused challenge to the denial of certain tangible benefits,” an important fact would have surfaced: Equal protection of such “tangible benefits” applies both more broadly and more narrowly than to same-sex couples.
On the broader side, as I write in my book, Masculine Power, Feminine Beauty: The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage (p. 119),
In many states, homosexuals do not currently have such a means, currently afforded by marriage, to initiate a legal proceeding for designating next of kin. Every citizen, regardless of his sexual orientation, should have such a means available to him. Such a proceeding is a legitimate service that government should provide. But homosexuals are not the only ones who currently do not have such a legal means available. As a heterosexual bachelor, I too should have the right to a legal ceremony whereby I can select my best friend, a married heterosexual man, as my next of kin, without my having to have sex with him. Furthermore, my selecting my best friend as my next of kin should not mean that I have ‘married’ him.
On the narrower side, as I also write (p. 119),
A government-witnessed marriage ceremony provides the legal presumption that the husband is the natural father of any child subsequently born to the wife. This presumption protects the husband, the wife, and the child from paternity challenges by other men. Moreover, this presumption protects the mother and child from abandonment or denial of paternity by the father; stated more positively, the wedding ceremony affords the husband the opportunity to make a legally witnessed public pledge that he will be the man responsible for the care of the children born to his wife.
This presumption of paternity of course does not apply to same-sex couples, and so there can be no equal protection regarding this legal presumption, the legal presumption most distinctive to marriage.
The issues I raise above about equal protection and marriage are not cut and dried, but these issues demonstrate that it would take very careful study to apply the equal-protection principle correctly.
But there is another point that trumps all others: Changing the meaning of a concept, whose rational meaning in society transcends government, is not a proper means to achieve equal protection.
It is bad enough that government is taking the lead, instead of following the lead of the culture, in changing the meaning of such a concept. Even more egregious is that government is changing the meaning for the worse.
Marriage is a legally sanctioned, publicly declared, exclusive and—by intention—permanent romantic relationship between a man and a woman, such relationship establishing each of the individuals as the other’s next of kin, establishing rights and mutual responsibilities regarding joint property, and establishing rights and responsibilities regarding custody and care of the couple’s children.
Yes, there is a basic legal reason for ‘marriage’ to refer only to a man-woman bond. As I stated above, a government-witnessed marriage ceremony provides the legal presumption that the husband is the natural father of any child subsequently born to the wife.
The concept of marriage, however, is not merely a legal concept; just as much if not more so, marriage is a moral and romantic concept. Indeed, if government got out of the business of officiating at marriage ceremonies and sanctioning marriages, the concept of marriage would remain. Private organizations would continue to sanction marriages, just as private organizations sanction accreditations, certifications, graduations, Bar Mitzvahs, and so on.
The basic question regarding sex and the concept of marriage, therefore, is not legal or political, but rather epistemological: Would broadening the concept ‘marriage’, to subsume all legally sanctioned relationships entailing the sharing of property and assigning of next of kin, serve cognition or hinder cognition? If two men mutually pledge to be each other’s life partner, does clear cognition demand that that relationship be called a marriage, or a civil union, or some other word?
In my judgment, such a civil union absolutely should not be called a marriage.
Sex is important. I am using the word ‘sex’ in its primary meaning: “either the male or female division of the species.” (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition.) To a married man, it is important that his spouse is a woman, not a man. That is, it is important that his spouse is a wife. To a homosexual man, it is important that the person he has sexual relations with is a man, not a woman. To people in the LGBT movement, it is important to distinguish male homosexuals (denoted by the ‘G’ for ‘Gay’) from female homosexuals (denoted by the ‘L’ for Lesbian). T o ‘transgenders’, sex is so important that many of them are willing to amputate their genitals—to be replaced by artificial, non-feeling parts—in order to ‘transition’ to the other sex, the sex they would rather be.
Sex is so important that we have the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’, not merely ‘person’; ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, not merely ‘spouse’; ‘bride’ and ‘groom’, not merely ‘newlywed’. We even have the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’, not merely ‘parent’; ‘son’ and ‘daughter’, not merely ‘offspring’, ‘brother’ and ‘sister’, not merely ‘sibling’. For the same reason—only more so—that we need these other sex-specific words, we need a word for the most exalted bond specifically between a man and a woman. That word is ‘marriage’.
Let there be a word for a bond between two men. Let there be another word for a bond between two women. Let there be a term—‘civil union’—for all such bonds. But we must never lose the word for the most crucial kind of bond between a man and a woman. Sex is important.
The role of the man in a marriage differs profoundly from the role of the woman. According to my own personal conception of marriage, the husband has the responsibility—and joy—to provide physical safety for his wife, to take the lead in urgent actions dealing with survival, to be the primary source of physical power as a complement to his wife’s beauty, to take the lead romantically, and to be in charge sexually. That is, it is the husband’s responsibility and joy to be masculine, and to enjoy the femininity of his wife.
Other heterosexual men and women may differ with me regarding the specifics of how a husband and wife complement each other in a marriage. Nevertheless, we all recognize the obvious: a heterosexual’s sexual values are highly sex-specific. To a husband, that he is a man and that his spouse is a woman are of utmost importance to his marriage. The concept of marriage must continue to capture this importance, identifying the sex of the spouses with emphasis and definite clarity.
A married man, or a man who desires marriage, needs to know that being married means being a man to a woman, not merely being a partner to a partner. The concept of ‘marriage’ helps him to hold that knowledge in condensed form. This knowledge serves both as a guide to action and as a means of contemplating his romantic success.
The fundamental purpose of incorporating the concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the concept of ‘marriage’ is not to distinguish heterosexual relationships from homosexual ones; the fundamental purpose is to enable heterosexuals—and anyone who wants to understand them—to retain, in condensed form, the fact that there are essential differences between (heterosexual) men and (heterosexual) women. That is why the definition of marriage refers to man and woman, but makes no mention of sexual orientation. If there were no homosexuals, heterosexuals would still need the definition of marriage to identify a man and a woman as the two parties involved.
If homosexual unions were to be called ‘marriage’, then there would no longer be a word for the current concept of ‘marriage’; that is, the current concept of marriage would cease to exist. But marriage is too exalted an idea not to be a concept. There is even a distinct word for the basic sexual act that is distinct to the joining of a man and woman: coitus. It would be bizarrely anti-romantic to have a word for the one exclusively heterosexual sexual act and no word for the most exalted exclusively heterosexual romantic bond.
A heterosexual man should not have to think or say, “I am in a heterosexual marriage” instead of thinking or saying simply, “I am married.” The issue is not merely the saving of time in pronouncing words. The issue is good cognition. The phrase ‘a heterosexual marriage’ places far too much emphasis on the distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals, and buries the romantic distinction between a man and a woman. The phrase removes the romanticism from the concept of marriage.
Similarly, a married man should not have to think or say, “I am married … to a woman”; and a single man should not have to think, “I desire to be married … to a woman.” These phrases emphasize the distinction between the man being married to a woman vs. his being married to a man. This distinction certainly is not the one that a man wants to have brought to the forefront of his mind when he is contemplating his marriage. He wants two other distinctions brought to the forefront of his mind: first, the distinction between his feminine wife and his masculine self; and second, the distinction between marriage and other, less serious or less committed kinds of relationships between a man and a woman.
The sentence “I am married” emphasizes these very distinctions, summoning to the mind of the man his understanding of a man’s relation to the woman he shares his life with forever. Broadening the concept of marriage to include homosexuals would be a killer of conceptual understanding of romantic love, and a killer of romance.
Calling homosexual unions ‘marriage’ is as absurd as calling all spouses ‘wives’. That observation leads to my next point.
If the concept of marriage were extended to include same-sex civil unions, then the concepts of husband and wife also would lose their current sex-specific meanings. Would a man married to a man be a wife, in virtue of his being married to a man, or would he be a husband in virtue of his being a married man, or would he be both? The only way to be unambiguous would be to employ an awkward and difficult-to-grasp phrase such as ‘a woman married to a man’ or ‘a female spouse of a male spouse’ to refer to what we now know as a wife.
The phrase ‘a woman married to a man’ would emphasize the distinction from ‘a woman married to a woman’ or a ‘a man married to a man’; that is, the phrase would emphasize the distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals, and bury the distinction between a husband and a wife in a marriage. The phrase ‘a female spouse of a male spouse’ would be even worse. In short, not only would we be left with awkward and confusing phrases in place of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’, but the meaning of these new phrases would be unromantic perversions of what we have always understood to be a husband and a wife.
Some words are worth fighting for. ‘Marriage’, denoting a crucial kind of relationship between a man and a woman—namely, the relationship between a husband and a wife—is such a word.
It is wrong to achieve equal protection for women by calling females males. It is wrong to achieve equal protection for blacks by calling blacks Caucasians. It is wrong to achieve equal protection for homosexuals by calling their civil unions marriages.
As I write in my book (p. 126),
I do not care whether homosexuals think they are married, as long as I know that only heterosexual couples are married, and that I remain politically free to use the English language accordingly.
But I do care when government takes the initiative, lending its considerable weight and sanction, to corrupt the meaning of concepts that I need. As of this writing, it is unclear how politically free any of us are to use the word ‘marriage’ as we see fit. It is unclear as to what lawsuits we are vulnerable to by doing so. It remains to be seen how government-run institutions such as schools will capitalize on the Supreme Court’s ruling in order to indoctrinate children and adults. But one thing is certain: Unless the current cultural and political trends are reversed, it will soon be a violation of the law to speak and act according to the conviction that marriage is strictly between a man and a woman.
Controlling—and perverting—the citizenry’s fundamental concepts is worse than destroying the citizenry’s property. This changing of the concept of marriage by government—by the federal government, no less—is a further, major step down the path of utter destruction of reason, culture, romance, and civilization. For my proof of this statement, see my book quoted above. For a taste of my proof, see my other blog post today, “We All Speak Homosexual Now.”