What Next for Marriage?

WASHINGTON — Here is what the first recipient of a Provincetown, Mass., same-sex marriage license had to say about marriage, according to his local paper:

“[Jonathan Yarbrough] says the concept of forever is ‘overrated’ and that he, as a bisexual, and [his partner Cody] Rogahn, who is gay, have chosen to enjoy an open marriage. ‘I think it's possible to love more than one person and have more than one partner, not in the polygamist sense,’ he said. ‘In our case, it is, we have, an open marriage.’”

Now that Massachusetts has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some predict the federal courts will soon have the opportunity to impose same-sex “marriage” on the entire country.

Out-of-state homosexual couples have already received marriage licenses in Massachusetts and plan to sue in order to have their “marriages” recognized by their home states.

Few believe the U.S. Supreme Court will refrain from imposing same-sex “marriage” on America. “They will file lawsuits in federal court to make this national under false constitutional arguments,” predicted Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage, on May 19.

Daniels said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia got to the nub of the problem in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas. That 2003 Supreme Court decision discovered a right to commit sodomy and declared states' anti-sodomy laws — in place since before the American Revolution — null and void. The basis for the decision was a vague “liberty” interest rather than previous legal standards, which had already been rendered elastic by decades of activist jurisprudence.

Scalia, who is Catholic, cast doubt on a statement in the court's majority opinion that the case “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.”

“If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is ‘no legitimate state interest' for purposes of proscribing that conduct,” Scalia warned, “and if, as the court coos [casting aside all pretense of neutrality], ‘[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring,’ what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution’?”

The problem “requires a constitutional answer,” said Daniels, who advocates a federal marriage amendment. That proposed amendment to the Constitution would define marriage as between a man and a woman and prevent judges from imposing same-sex “marriage” or civil unions but allow state legislatures to create civil unions for homosexuals with all the benefits of marriage.

At a press conference May 17, the day Massachusetts officials began issuing licenses to homosexual couples, the alliance released a Wirthlin poll finding strong support for the proposed amendment. The survey, conducted April 2-5, found that 67% of Americans — with men, women, whites, blacks and Hispanics all in equal support — favor it, including 57% who “strongly favor” it.

“Marriage between a man and a woman serves two roles that are indispensable to civil society: procreation, by which we perpetuate the species; and socialization, by which bonding takes place for both boys and girls with both a man and a woman,” the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, a black pastor and veteran of the civil-rights movement, said at the press conference.

Conscientious Objector

Some pro-family groups prefer a stronger amendment that would also forbid civil unions. But Daniels said that would never achieve the approval needed to make it into the Constitution.

A constitutional amendment needs passage by two-thirds of both houses of Congress and ratification of three-quarters (or 38) of the state legislatures.

“Matt is dead wrong,” said Robert Knight, director of the Culture & Family Institute at Concerned Women for America. “The reason the [federal marriage amendment] hasn't gone anywhere [in Congress] is because it's so weak.”

Republican congressional leaders have not committed to having a vote on the federal marriage amendment this year, despite an endorsement of the amendment's objectives from President Bush.

Knight added that Daniels and other federal marriage amendment supporters have “their hearts in the right place” but said that without banning civil unions, “that will affect adoption, the Boy Scouts, what's taught in the public schools, which will say, ‘In this state, gay unions are considered equivalent to marriage.’”

Same-sex “marriages” are already creating upheavals in Massachusetts, in a portent for the rest of the nation, as individuals and institutions struggle to deal with homosexual relationships that have suddenly acquired all the rights and protections formerly accorded genuine marriage.

Asked three days after the implementation of homosexual “marriage” whether the Massachusetts Catholic Conference would now be required to extend benefits to the potential same-sex “spouses” of its employees, Associate Director for Policy and Research Dan Avila wasn't sure.

“It's a question that requires some research because there are state and federal laws in conflict,” he said. Avila said moral theologians and legal experts were studying the issue.

The new regime is driving Catholics and other traditional Americans of conscience out of certain offices, such as that of justice of the peace.

Linda Gray Kelley, a Catholic who believes she was the first to resign out of a refusal to perform same-sex ceremonies, said she could not have remained as a justice of the peace because she would have been sued for discriminating against same-sex couples.

“We had a meeting of the Massachusetts Justices of the Peace Association about how to handle same-sex ceremonies. A representative of Gov. Romney's office told us, ‘Just do it,’” Kelley said. “The next speaker was the head of the Massachusetts discrimination board. He said, ‘We will sue.’”

The Boston Globe reported that Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers changed its policy to avoid giving same-sex partners benefits, but a union employee said its policy had not changed but rather had been clarified. Union officials did not wish to speak about their policies or plans on benefits.

Will Act Help?

Under certain federal laws, including the Defense of Marriage Act, states do not have to recognize same-sex “marriages” performed in other states and many private entities don't have to at all.

But the Defense of Marriage Act is exactly what observers expect the federal courts to invalidate.

Knight said a bill, the Marriage Protection Act from Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., would remove the Defense of Marriage Act from the jurisdiction of the federal courts by simple majority vote of both houses of Congress and Bush's signature. But that would not prevent same-sex “marriages” in the states, whether created by state legislatures or imposed by judges.

“Congress has had opportunities in the past to restrict the courts' juris-diction on social policy, but it has failed to do so,” said Daniels in urging his federal marriage amendment instead. “Why should we expect it now?”

Daniels said he did not expect the American people to engage on this issue and demand protection of marriage until the courts impose the new order on the whole country.

“The other side is passionate about destroying marriage,” Knight said. “We need equal passion.”

Joseph A. D'Agostino writes from Washington, D.C.