The local newspaper usually reflects the heartbeat of the community.
Usually, though not always.
The Colorado Springs Gazette is our hometown publication. They do a great job covering our area despite the fact they have a shrinking staff of writers. Last week, the libertarian minded editorial board officially endorsed same-sex marriage. The editors graciously offered me an opportunity to respond in this past Sunday’s edition.
Here is the essay; I welcome your thoughts.
Marriage is as Much a Responsibility as a Fundamental Right
By Jim Daly
The Gazette’s recent endorsement of gay marriage makes the same mistakes on a number of issues that we’re accustomed to seeing from active proponents for the issue.
An Aug. 10 editorial noted the paper keeps “explaining repeatedly” to readers that “fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no election.” That’s generally true — to a point. Curiously, both The Gazette and the Proposition 8 judge, Vaughn Walker, imply that there are no (and can never be) democratically enacted restrictions on rights, but that’s just not so. The state puts restrictions on “rights” all the time — often with the blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court — that we might harmoniously live together as a society.
For example, the editorial ensnares itself when in saying that “marriage is a promise between two adults.” That’s two legal restrictions on the supposedly restriction-free right of marriage right there — an age minimum and a two-persons-only requirement. Ironically, those narrow (and wise) parameters came from lawmakers elected by the people.
Colorado and other states also prohibit marriages to a close relative and, yes, restrict marriage to one man and one woman.
All of those standards have been voted on by the people or their elected representatives.
When it comes to the value of marriage, we believe there’s a legitimate role for government and religion.
Religion recognizes marriages whether they begin in a church or at the courthouse. The state recognizes marriages, too — religious or otherwise. The critical debate here isn’t between government or religion, as the Gazette posits; it’s about how we define marriage.
To be clear, government didn’t create marriage, but it does recognize and protect it. Why? Marriage offers a valuable resource to the state: stable homes for nurturing the next generation. Either there is value in children having a mother and a father or there is none, as Judge Walker’s ruling attempts to claim.
The government will either defend the right of children to have the best chance for a mom and a dad, or it won’t. Judge Walker’s decision ignores the critical matter of a child’s health and well-being and isolates the matter to an individual right. That intentional apathy toward children is not only short-sighted, but it also doesn’t stand up against mountains of evidence that finds children do best with both a mom and a dad in the home.
The Gazette’s view of the Walker ruling is also shortsighted in where it takes us, or perhaps, where is does not.
Wisdom dictates that we look beyond present-day circumstances and emotion. The stakes are too high; real-world issues including what our children learn in school and a parent’s choice to direct what his or her child is taught now hang in the balance.
Discussions of same-sex marriage are not limited to what two adults may desire to do, or even to adult conversations; the topic is slipping into public school curricula.
Do we really need to teach elementary schoolchildren the sexual orientation of historical figures when it has no bearing on their professional accomplishments?
Particularly when the view of a child’s parent is not taken into consideration, as was the case with the Wirthlin family in Massachusetts. They lost their court case to opt their elementary-age child out of a class teaching that same-sex relationships are the same as one-man and one-woman marriage. Their parental rights were lost in the process. The Wirthlin story was an influencing factor among California voters who supported Proposition 8 in 2008.
At the heart of the matter lies a fundamental, singular position: We believe that marriage should remain child-focused, rather than adult-centered. No other social institution offers a child one of the only claims he or she has at birth — the right to both the mother and father who made him or her. This perspective is a belief rooted in our faith and informed by an avalanche of social science.
A compassionate society comes to the aid of broken families. Legalizing same-sex marriage will not liberate children by preventing them from the possibility of ever having both a mother and a father. But maintaining social policy that preserves that possibility can prevent a lot of future heartache