The latest issue of Newsweek treats the
magazine's readers to a giddy rhapsody about same-sex marriage.
According to Newsweek, there apparently is no social, cultural or
moral downside to homosexual marriage. In fact, about the only
question that remains is when these unions finally will be legal.
This news slant is hardly unique. In the wake of last week's
decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down an anti-sodomy
statute in Texas, the cultural buzz is all about the surprising
sweep of the court's 6-3 decision and how it will lead to the
recognition of gay marriage.
The three dissenting justices in the Texas case, Chief Justice
William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, concluded
that the court's decision simply sweeps aside the constitutional and
legal basis for restricting marriage to heterosexual unions. Scalia,
writing for the other two, asked, "What justification could there
possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual
couples?" He then went on to deride the majority's lame assertion
that the case doesn't "involve" the right of same-sex couples to
marry. "Do not believe it," he said. "This case doesn't involve the
issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that
principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this
court. Many will hope that, as the court comfortingly assures us,
this is so."
Now that the court had taken what Scalia calls an
"anti-anti-homosexual" position, the immediate issue for the country
is not whether there is a right to gay marriage but rather how that
decision should be made and by whom.
There are only two options. The first is to let the courts do it,
prodded on, of course, by dozens of gay- rights organizations and
their friends. Dozens of such organizations have already petitioned
the Massachusetts Supreme Court to find a "right to marry" in the
U.S. Constitution, and it's widely expected that that court will do
so, especially now that the U.S. Supreme Court has charted the
If were to happen, it is fair to ask, why should a clear majority
of Americans who oppose homosexual marriage simply accept the
far-reaching consequences that would follow in the wake of such a
The simple answer is that every American has a stake in how
marriage is defined, and the decision should not be left either to a
tiny minority of the population or to unelected judges.
Opinion polls show conclusively that the American public, while
increasingly tolerant of homosexuals, does not believe this group
has a right to define marriage for society as a whole.
The Marriage Amendment now before Congress appears to be the only
way the march of judicial activism can be halted and the public be
given the opportunity to make the final decision. At several key
points in the nation's history, Congress has had to confront the
fact that the constitutional language had to be changed to
accommodate public opinion and the changing social order. Such
amendments were needed to abolish slavery, to give women the right
to vote, to impose an income tax, and to limit a president to just
two terms in office.
The issue this time around is also quite simple. Does this nation
wish to preserve marriage as the exclusive option of a man and a
woman? The Marriage Amendment would leave to the individual states
the related matters of whether same-sex couples could adopt, obtain
employee health insurance, inherit and the like.
Up until now, gay activist groups have been able to picture the
sponsors of the Marriage Amendment as a hateful bunch motivated by
little more than animus toward homosexuals.
That won't work now. The Supreme Court decision and the pending
case in Massachusetts demonstrate that the Marriage Amendment isn't
some cause of a narrow group, but rather a broad-based reaction to
real events. The amendment is no less than a broad recognition that
a valued institution needs to be preserved mostly because it has
served and continues to serve the interests of children.
This belief, by the way, cuts across racial and ethnic lines.
Hispanics and black Americans, if anything, hold this view more
strongly than other groups, a fact that undercuts the oft-repeated
assertion that homosexuality is analogous to race. So far, not even
the compliant Supreme Court majority has been willing to go that
Al Knight of Fairplay mailto:email@example.com
) is a former member of The Denver Post editorial-page staff. His
columns appear on Wednesday.