Thursday, October 26, 2006

Government's compelling interest in marriage.

In an article called "A Message from Rabbi Tilsen -- Same-Sex Marriage", Rabbi Tilsen argues for government to stop recognizing marriage altogether, and instead recognize what he would call "Civil Partnerships":


Connecticut law requires that any “religious” marriage be recorded with the State (General Statutes, Ch. 815e, Sec. 46b-22). This makes a religious marriage subject to the laws of the State, but does not make a State marriage subject to the laws of any religion. Is this requirement for the benefit of the State, or for the benefit of the couple? What is the State's interest?

A Christian or other religious marriage has a set of rules, customs and expectations that defines and governs the marriage, and that goes beyond the civil definition of marriage. Religious marriages are distinct from the civil Las Vegas marriage, which can be licensed, recorded and terminated within a span of days. While the government may recognize all of these as “marriages,” they are not quite the same.

Why should the state recognize any marriage? Our answer to this question determines our position on same-sex marriage. The state's reason cannot be to help the religious communities enforce their doctrines or value systems. If the state recognizes any marriage, it must have a purpose that helps the broad public without infringing on our liberties or harming a segment of our population.

As far as I can see, the state finds it advantageous to have a conventional set of rules for taxation, inheritance and the like to apply to a “couple.” It really does not matter to the state if that couple is living according to Catholic ideals, halakha, or their own private set of “commitments” that they have made to each other. For that reason, I have no more objection to the state calling the commitment between a same-sex couple “marriage” as I do to any of the other religious or civil relationships that are called by that name. But if it is found that it harms the religious sentiments of many Americans to share the word “marriage” with a same-sex couple, then perhaps the state should simply stop using the word “marriage” for anyone and instead define “civil partnerships.” Let the battle over the word “marriage” be fought on the battlegrounds of the religious communities (including our own), where the symbolism is of utmost importance, not in the civic arena, where tax policy, inheritance and medical benefits are at stake.

Rabbi Tilsen asks the right question -- what is the State's compelling interest in marriage? But unfortunately, he gets that answer wrong, which leads him to the wrong conclusion.:

As far as I can see, the state finds it advantageous to have a conventional set of rules for taxation, inheritance and the like to apply to a “couple.” It really does not matter to the state if that couple is living according to Catholic ideals, halakha, or their own private set of “commitments” that they have made to each other.

That is most certainly NOT the reason government has a compelling interest in marriage. Government has no reason to care about "a conventional set of rules". Far easier for government would be to have no special rules at all. Further, history shows the real answer to his question.

Government's interest in marriage is based on marriage being the foundation of a prosperous society. And "marriage" in that regard is the biological conjoining of opposite-sex partners, who will then procreate and raise offspring under their care and nurture.

Society requires children to continue. So obviously government wants to encourage procreation. But if children are abandoned, it creates a burden on government that government is ill-suited to handle, witness the many horror stories regarding orphanages.

So, our government, in it's wisdom, has recognised that having a stable family environment is the ideal method for children to be raised and become productive members of society.
Also, it is clear that the biological bond between parents and children creates the strongest stable environment. Without that biological bond, families are much more likely to break up as either the father or the mother, having lost their lustful bond with their spouse, have no parental bond with the children to concern themselves.

Let me repeat that a different way-- We see stories every day of how men who fathered a child feel compelled to be involved in their lives, even if they were never told of the child until the child has grown. And NOBODY will doubt the special bond of a mother to her child of her womb -- in fact, one often hears the argument that abortion is preferable to adoption because a mother cannot bear to separate from their offspring.

Also, it is clear that children are best trained by a combination of two parents of opposite sex, to expose the children to both sexes and allow them to develop normal, healthy views of sex and gender.

So government has a compelling reason to encourage and subsidize marriages as the building block of society. And it is clear that marriage they want to encourage should be on with people of the opposite sex who will likely have biological offspring, who will raise those offspring in the care and nurture of their real, biological parents, and produce the next productive generation of society.

There is absolutely NO reason for government to encourage ANY other type of union. Same-sex unions by NATURE will not produce biological offspring. At best any children will be related only to ONE of the parents, leaving the other with no bond who could easily leave. More often neither parent has a biological attachment.

Of course, it is true that adoptions exist, and some argue that is a valid government purpose. But evidence suggests that a child in a two-sex foster family is better off than in a same-sex couple situation. And in any case, special encouragement is not necessary
for the same-sex couple who wants to experience child-raising, as their desire itself is motivation enough.

The idea of encouraging a "non-marriage" relationship between opposite-sex couples is even MORE ludicrous. With same-sex couples, at least you can pretend you are encouraging a longer-term commitment to raise a family. But opposite-sex couples who spurn marraige have already shown a distaste for long-term commitment, and that distaste should be DISCOURAGED, not encouraged.

If it were not for the benefit to society of two-parent, biological families, Government would best stay out of marriage altogether, providing NO benefits whatsoever. Let people just do what they want to do, without involving government approval or disapproval.

But it is clear that society suffers when the family falters. And so government should be doing MORE to encourage biological family units, NOT less. Rather than entertaining same-sex "relationships", government should be strengthening the laws to provide incentives for families to stay together rather than give in to cheap, easy divorces.


kilo said...

Great Post

Citizen Tom said...

I concur, great post! The prime reason we need government is to protect people’s rights. In effect, all our necessary laws exist for just one reason, to protect people’s rights.

Consider why we have a police and a court system. Police necessary to discourage some people from harming others. Our courts allow us to determine who caused who harm and punish the guilty. Even in civil disputes, the object is to protect one party’s rights from being abused by another.

Some would ask: “but what about the fact the government provides services like building roads and public sewage systems”. Again, I say we have these things to protect people’s right. In olden times, one of the main reasons people lived by the sea was so they could trade with each other. Where they existed, bandits and "barons" charging “tolls” too often blocked roads. Hence, government acted to protect and provide a right of way. Similarly, the government acted to provide sewage treatment to protect people from being sickened by other people’s sewage.

Marriage laws are also about protecting people’s rights. As your post suggest, marriage protects the rights children, the people most in need of the protection of good laws. Marriage assigns parents the responsibility of raising children, and it provides an appropriate legal framework conducive to rearing children.