Proposition 8 in California defining marriage as being between a man and a woman was overturned in August of this year in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger and is now set for a Dec. 6 hearing before the Ninth District Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Vaughn Walker wrote the decision arguing, “Gays and lesbians… have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples” and “deserve the full recognition of society.”
Judge Walker makes some important claims that must be addressed. It may be true that same-sex couples share intimate relationships similar to that of their traditional counterparts, but it cannot be said that they share the same sort of relationships; men and women are intrinsically different.
Former President of Harvard Larry Summers presented a hypothesis in 2005 suggesting inherent differences between the genders as far as aptitude at the high end in mathematics is concerned. Following the discussion he encountered fierce opposition bordering on religious fanaticism from the side rejecting any male-female differences, in spite of reality.
It is the difference between the sexes that allows for something imitable when they join together. Even some of the most radical advocates for same-sex marriage would agree that traditional marriage is also the optimal environment for the upbringing of children. A child benefits most from a having both a father and mother because each bring something unique to the table.
We call this union between man and woman a marriage, and whatever else one says about a same-sex relationship it cannot by definition be a marriage for the simple fact of nature that men and women are not the same. However many similarities there may be between traditional and same-sex couples, the two are different and should be recognized as such.
Judge Walker’s second point is a strange one. His job is to interpret law, not pass judgment on whether society should or should not recognize same-sex relationships. That is for society to decide, not a single man.
The people of California already passed a constitutional amendment establishing what they believe the definition of marriage ought to be, and Judge Walker is entitled to his vote and opinion on the matter but no more than the next citizen. His position as a Federal Judge does not grant him power of sole legislator.
Now there is a misunderstanding that infects the whole discussion over marriage that needs to be examined, which is the idea of gay “rights”. Often people confuse rights with privileges. For example, society grants the privilege of driving a car to persons above a certain age and able to perform at a designated level of aptitude, but certainly driving a car is not a birthright. There are standards one must meet in order to receive a driver’s license, much like entering into a legal marriage.
In order to communicate this more clearly, it should be acknowledged that there are real and serious disagreements between conservatives as liberals as to what constitutes a right, but one thing is certain, all rights have a corollary duties.
In the winter of 1944, President Roosevelt presented a Second Bill of Rights in his State of the Union Address which included a right to employment, housing, medical care, and so on. Many vehemently disagreed with Roosevelt’s new assessment of rights, but agreed that these new rights would impose additional duties. If one has a right to housing, then the government has a duty to build one. Likewise, all Americans have a right to legal counsel and are provided it by the state if they cannot afford it.
Therefore if marriage is in fact a right, it would mean the government has a duty to provide a spouse. Properly understood, a contract of legal marriage is not a right but a privilege, and all claims by gay “rights” activists to be obtaining their proper rights are frivolous.
With the exception of a few states, marriage in the U.S. remains between one man and one woman as it has been since its beginnings. The traditional family model has worked for America for hundreds of years and centuries before that going back to our Anglo-Saxon tradition.
It is because of this historical tradition that the burden of proof is on those who seek to change this ancient institution without using false claims to “rights” or denying the nature of men and women.