I see that many people who tend to align with the Republican Party, in Rhode Island, and who see themselves as conservatives are using social media to present themselves as more enlightened than those of us who will continue to believe that the Supreme Court usurped the power of the People and, further, that it is entirely Constitutional and rational to maintain the traditional definition of marriage. I offer the following summation to all of them, but the Facebook page that finally led me to write it was by Luis Vargas, who centers his argument on the principle that “what the government recognizes and what the church recognizes are two different things, and they should remain that way.”
I know it’s very tempting to try to be on the “right side of history” on this issue, but please pause a moment and consider the question more deeply, down to the core logic of it.
1) Religion is ultimately about discerning the will of God and choosing to align one’s self with it.
2) Government, as conceived in the founding of the United States, is about aligning government with the will of the people.
3) Representative democracy in a constitutional and federal republic is about balancing interests and powers so that each person can live under a government that aligns as closely as possible with his or her understanding of the world and government’s role in it.
4) Under no terms should government dictate to people what they must believe, beyond assenting to fundamental rights that allow people to speak their minds, work to change government to better reflect their beliefs, or go elsewhere. (This, more than the popular rephrasing, captures the intent of the Establishment Clause.)
5) The prohibition in #4 includes a prohibition against organized religions’ being granted power within government to impose their worldviews.
6) People who have freely chosen to align themselves with a particular understanding of the world (including their understanding of the will of God) do not thereby lose their right to work to change their government to better reflect their beliefs.
7) This is not equivalent to a Church’s dictating its beliefs through government. It is free citizens drawing from religion in order to determine what their government should be, just as they draw from popular culture, family, science, and any other factor that influences one’s beliefs about the world.
8) As a crucial institution in our society, marriage is something that the People must be able to define, including to the extent of government’s recognizing a particular form of relationship as a marriage.
9) It assumes a definition of marriage to insist that it must mean nothing other than a long-term, committed, intimate relationship between adults — i.e., “love.”
10) Throughout human history — as affirmed by the federal government and in most of the states in which residents gave an answer through representative or democratic means, once the traditional meaning was challenged — society has held a different view of what marriage is.
11) That definition reflected the plain fact that men and women living together in intimate relationships tend to create children and therefore held that such men and women should bind themselves in marriage as they would likely bind themselves in the person of a child, with a commitment to raise that child and support each other as individuals and as parents.
12) It so happens that this practical sociological consideration aligns with age-old religious principles reflecting similar purposes and investing them with the additional weight of the spiritual.
13) This definition is not discriminatory in the legal sense of the “invidious discrimination” that is necessary for government intervention under a fair balancing of people’s rights, because men are not women, and women are not men. People who enter into relationships that do not fit the definition are not “similarly situated.”
14) This definition is also a separate matter from allowing people to form whatever relationships they desire — even calling them whatever they wish.
15) Beginning with a judicial ruling (in Massachusetts) and imposed by judges in the majority of states that recognized same-sex marriage, the government has dictated that citizens of the United States are not free to define the institution of marriage according to their beliefs — religiously inspired or otherwise.
16) Americans are now forbidden from distinguishing, in law, between intimate male-female relationships, as a class, and male-male or female-female relationships, as a class, no matter the reason. This is precisely an establishment of religion as forbidden in the Bill of Rights. For the purposes of our government, we are being required to believe the absurd proposition that men and women are not different in any important ways.
17) This is not only an infringement of our rights as a self-governing people; it also removes a powerful institution by which society has encouraged, but not coerced, people to live in a responsible way that most fosters freedom and economic advancement.
18) Those most harmed will not be those whose families and communities that continue to instill such principles (which will tend to have natural advantages for obvious reasons), but those who are most in need of structure and the society’s encouragement.
19) In the absence of that structure and encouragement, we will find government stepping in to make them increasingly dependent and to implement laws to restrain their behavior.