The Marriage Debate is More than a Mere Policy Discussion

Stephen J. Heaney has a great post, Cats and Dogs and Marriage Laws (link), where he ably recognizes that there’s more than mere policy at stake in the marriage debate:

In our marriage debate, we aren’t dealing with a policy question. We’re dealing with a definition of the subject of our policies. What’s at issue isn’t marriage and family law, or what sorts of arrangements we make concerning marriage and family. What’s at issue is the meaning of marriage itself, and consequently the meaning of family. Marriage and family law have at their core, throughout history, a basic understanding of a universal fact: the sexual acts of man with woman result in children. For the sake of their offspring, they vow to each other and to the community to be sexually exclusive and remain together, blending their bodies, their goods, and their lives. Society supports them in their task. This is marriage. Government does no more than recognize this fundamental fact of social life. Marriage comes to us already defined, and governments have typically tried to form policies that match the reality. It may well be that, from time to time and from place to place, there have been alterations in how this social arrangement plays out: which men may marry which women, how many spouses are permitted, how spouses and children inherit, how easily one may be released from the vow. But never until the 1990s had anyone questioned what marriage is. Never before had anyone simply redefined the institution to be something else entirely, based on entirely non-essential characteristics. The new marriage regime is not about recognizing marriage; it is about validating people’s love interests. But society and its governing bodies have no more use for or an interest in granting a license for people’s loves and friendships than they have in licensing cat ownership.

© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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