Category archives: Marriage

Funerals, Domestic Partners, and the Meaning of Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

January 11, 2010

On January 5, both houses of the Rhode Island legislature overrode (by large margins) Gov. Donald Carcieris veto of a bill that would have given “domestic partners” the authority to make funeral arrangements for one another. Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr was one who took the governor to task (Carcieris heartless, but not surprising piece of work, November 13, 2009).

Toward the end of this article, Kerr says “if you could let me know exactly what traditional marriage is I’d appreciate it.” Perhaps as good a definition as any is that offered by scholar David Blankenhorn in his 2007 book, The Future of Marriage. He writes:

In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from that union are—and are understood by the society to be—emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents… . It also reflects one idea that does not change: For every child, a mother and a father.”

Kerr says, “I always thought it [marriage] was a lasting commitment between two people who love each other.” This sentence describes marriage but it does not define it. To say this about marriage, and conclude that same-sex relationships can be marriages too, is somewhat like saying, “An automobile is a wheeled vehicle of transportation—and therefore a bicycle is an automobile, too.”

In the scope of human history, “love” is a fairly recent addition to most people’s concept of marriage. Many cultures have practiced arranged marriages in which “love” is not a prerequisite, yet no anthropologists would suggest that these are not “marriages.” Even “commitment,” while desirable in marriage, is not a requirement for it. Some people who divorce lack commitment, but it does not mean that their marriage never existed.

No, the one essential, irreducible characteristic necessary for marriage is the presence of both a man and a woman. Some cultures have allowed polygamous marriages with more than one man or woman, but never less than one of each.

The reason why the marriage of a man and a woman is privileged over all other human relationships, and treated as a social institution rather than as a purely private liaison, is because it is the only relationship capable of naturally reproducing the human race. This is an essential social function, without which society cannot survive. The male-female union is the one absolutely necessary relationship.

Of course, not every opposite-sex couple has children, or intends to. But it is a mistake to base the definition of marriage on the reasons why individual couples choose to marry. The real issue is why society treats marriage as a public institutionand the answer is because of its role in the procreation and rearing of the next generation.

This legislation was largely prompted by a man named Mark Goldberg and his frustrations following the death of his partner Ron Hanby. These circumstances were sadand almost unique. Few people die without having any living family members (family being defined as people related by blood, marriage, or adoption) to make decisions regarding their remains. It is a cliche in the legal profession that hard cases make bad law. This was a hard caseand made, unfortunately, for a bad piece of legislation. To deal with a situation like Mark Goldbergs by creating an entirely new, quasi-marital, legally recognized domestic relationship (domestic partners) under state law is like swatting a bee with a hammer.

Gov. Carcieri is absolutely right in saying such laws lead to an incremental erosion of marriage. We have seen exactly that process unfold in the states that have moved (either judicially or legislatively) toward redefining marriage in recent years.

Ironically, the explanation for why Bill S 0195 is unnecessary is found in the text of the bill itself. It delegates decision-making authority regarding funeral arrangements to a domestic partner only [t]o the extent that there is no funeral services contract in effect at the time of death for the benefit of the deceased person. In other words, people in same-sex relationships already have the ability to delegate to their partner decision-making regarding their funeral arrangementssimply by preparing a funeral services contract. Such a contract completely does away with any need for a blood relative to make decisions, and indeed overrides any choices that a relative might attempt to make.

If gay rights activists really want to help people like Ron Hanby and Mark Goldberg, they should work at educating people how to complete a funeral services contractnot exploit a tragic situation to create a Trojan horse for the redefinition of marriage.

Fighting for EqualityOr Obsessed with Sex?

by Peter Sprigg

October 14, 2009

It seems that homosexual activist groups cant even raise money without using sexual innuendo.

I happen to be on the email list for Equality Maryland, the state homosexual activist organization (its always good to know what the opposition is doing). They are planning to raise money with a Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction on Sunday, October 18 in Baltimore.

But I was startled by the poor taste (and the poor proofreading) of the subject line for an email invitation to this event that I received on September 28. It read: Care to engage is [sic] some Four Play? (The gimmick was that you would get a discount when purchasing four tickets.)

I wondered if they would be embarrassed or get any negative reactionbut apparently not. On October 7, I received a follow-up email with this subject line: Forget Four Play … how about a Threesome? Offering a discount for the purchase of only three tickets this time, the message came complete with a publicity photo from the old Threes Company TV show.

When homosexuals promote their political agenda in the public square, they argue that its not about sex. Its about love, families, equality, justice, etc., etc. They dont want people thinking about two men or two women having sex. (This is why they prefer the term gay rather than homosexual.)

But when talking to each other, the agenda becomes more clear.

Its about sex.

How Long Has Marriage Been the Union of a Man and a Woman? Scientists Say4.4 Million Years

by Peter Sprigg

October 7, 2009

Some people believe that religious dogma is the only reason why anyone opposes same-sex marriage. Those who believe the human race began with Adam and Eve, and that their relationship was Gods model for marriage, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But those who dont believe in the Bible, who think Adam and Eve are a myth, and who dont accept a Christian view of the human person, have no reason to believe marriage is an opposite-sex union. Right?

Wrong. They should take a look at a front-page article in the Washington Post about the newest claim by evolutionary scientists. The scientists believe that a primate skeleton found in Ethiopia is that of a human ancestorone that lived 4.4 million years ago. Almost at the end of this long piece, the article describes what C. Owen Lovejoy, an anthropologist at Kent State University, says about the social organization of this species:

The males, he argues, pair-bonded with females. Lovejoy sees male parental investment in the survival of offspring as a hallmark of the human lineage.

So, how long has marriage (i.e., pair-bonding) been a male-female union? About four million, four hundred thousand years, if this secular scientist is to be believed. And what was its purpose? To insure male parental investment in the survival of offspringsomething which the advocates of same-sex marriage contend is now no longer necessary.

And what will we be discarding, if we change the definition of marriage from being a union of a man and a woman? Only a hallmark of the human lineage.

Marriage is not merely a religious institution, nor merely a civil institution. It is, rather, a natural institution, whose definition as the union of male and female is rooted in the order of nature itself. And it doesnt take a Bible to prove it. In this case, evolutionary theory points to the exact same conclusion.

Washington Post:

Ardi’ May Rewrite the Story of Humans: 4.4 Million-Year-Old Primate Helps Bridge Evolutionary Gap (see third-to-last paragraph)

President Washington and the “Gender Gap”

by Robert Morrison

September 26, 2009

Ive just received news that the most respected editor of the Papers of George Washington—a collection to goes to fifty volumes—has died. My alma mater, University of Virginia, announced the passing of William Wright Abbott III. He was 87.

Mr. Abbott (all the profesors at U.Va. were called mister, in deference to Mr. Jeffersons republican manners) was revered around the Grounds. The official announcement said:

Abbot was hired as the James Madison Professor of History at U.Va. in 1966, serving twice as chairman of the Corcoran Department of History. Although he retired from the University in 1992, he continued to edit individual volumes of the Washington Papers until 1998, when nearly 50 volumes were in print.

I often heard him remark that interpretations come and go, but that a properly edited set of historical papers can inspire scholars for generations to come,” said U.Va. colleague H.C. Erik Midelfort, C. Julian Bishko Professor of History Emeritus. “Bill brought to his editing task a seasoned, literate sense of what a good edition requires: skill, knowledge and tact.

I had special reason to respect Mr. Abbott: He taught me one of the most important lessons I ever learned about politics and, in the process, helped my marriage. I interviewed Bill Abbott in Charlottesville in the mid-eighties. All the talk then was of the recently discovered gender gap. Liberal journalists had noted that President Ronald Reagan was less popular among women voters than among men. Liberal politicians sensed an opportunity. They encouraged Fritz Mondale, the Democratic nominee in 1984, to name a woman to his ticket. He did so. And promptly lost forty-nine states.

When I spoke with Mr. Abbott, however, he noted that George Washington was the first candidate to benefit from a gender gap. I laughed. Respectfully, I hope. Youre kidding, sir, I answered, women couldnt even vote in the 1780s. Bill Abbott indulged me like an upstart First-Year history student.

Actually, some women could vote in the early republic. A few elderly spinsters and widows who met property requirements were eligible in some states. But that was not Abbotts major point.

Even though most women did not vote, their voices were heard. Mr. Abbott said if George Washington had run in a modern presidential election, he would have won 70% of mens votes. But there would still have been a stubborn 30% of men voters—some well-known like Sam Adams, John Hancock, George Mason, and Patrick Henry—who might have opposed him.

Mr. Abbott then told me that in thirty years of studying George Washington, he had never encountered a single letter, diary entry, poem, or note by an American woman that was anything less than fully supportive of His Excellency, General Washington. One hundred percent positive.

So, how did George Washington do it? It was not the fact that he was the best horseman and the most skillful dancer in America—although that surely did not hurt. It may have been the fact that he loved the company of the ladies, always noticed them, always spoke with them, and formed many enduring friendships with women.

Probably, Washingtons solid support from women came from his titanic self-control. He had a fierce temper, it was known, but he kept it under an iron discipline. During the Revolutionary War, some young hotspurs had publicly urged General Washington to line Tories up against the wall and shoot them, to make an example of those who consorted with their British occupiers. Washington would have none of it. Nor would he burn American towns rather than let the enemy take them.

Perhaps a great part of Washingtons appeal was his devotion to home and hearth. He let it be known he would rather be at Mount Vernon with Lady Washington than dine with the King of France.

Certainly, Washingtons faith in God was an important factor. Then, as now, women sense this about a man and appreciate it.

Ronald Reagan appreciated Washingtons stellar qualities, too. Several years ago, I had occasion to tell Mr. Edwin Meese, the Presidents loyal lieutenant, that the online members of AOL had voted Ronald Reagan the greatest American. (It was a dicey competition, since Reagan had to beat out such candidates as Madonna and Michael Jackson.) Mr. Meese was stunned: He [Reagan] didnt think so. He thought George Washington was the greatest American.

So do I. And its a tribute to Ronald Reagan that in his humility, he was inspired by George Washington. I thank God for the great devotion of Professor William Abbott. He not only taught me about Washington and the gender gap, he also taught me to listen very closely to my wifes opinions about public figures. Shes usually right.

Obituary: The Episcopal Church in the United States (1789-2009) Cause of Death: Suicide

by Peter Sprigg

July 24, 2009

The Episcopal Church in the United States took another major step toward ensuring its own demise last week, by adopting a resolution endorsing the ordination of homosexuals as clergy and bishops.

The resolution, adopted at the denominations General Convention, said that gay and lesbian persons … have responded to Gods call and have exercised various ministries, and declared that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The resolution was widely interpreted as abandoning a moratorium on the ordination of homosexual bishops that was adopted after the furor surrounding the appointment of Gene Robinson, a homosexual man, as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Several branches of the worldwide Anglican Communion, particularly the more conservative churches in Africa, rejected the decision to elevate Robinson. In the U.S., a number of Episcopal parishes and dioceses have already left the Episcopal Church altogether, and they recently organized as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

The Episcopal General Convention three years ago adopted a resolution urging restraint regarding the elevation of any bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church. The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the highest ranking official in the worldwide Anglican Communion, had told the convention, I hope and pray that there wont be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart.

Sponsors of this years resolution denied that it constituted a repeal of the earlier statement, but Pamela Reamer Williams of Integrity USA, a pro-homosexual advocacy group, declared that this years action supersedes the effective moratorium.

Most observers believe that this years resolution may be the last straw that results in a complete rupture of relationships between the Episcopal Church and most other worldwide Anglicans. Jeff Walton of the Institute for Religion and Democracy noted, In the Anglican Communion, 22 out of 37 other provinces are already in a state of either impaired or broken communion with the Episcopal Church. [Source]

The liberal Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, warned against recognition of the new ACNA by declaring that schism is not a Christian act. But British theologian (and Bishop of Durham) Tom Wright pointed out in the Times of London that it is the Episcopal Church which is formalizing the schism they initiated six years ago by consecrating Robinson as bishop. This marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion, said Wright.

One aspect of the resolution that has not attracted much media attention is that it appears to use money as a weapon to discourage any action against the Episcopal Church by the Anglican Communion. The resolution reaffirm[s] its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion, and the accompanying explanation notes that in 2007 the Episcopal Church contributed $661,000 to the Inter-Anglican budgetmore than a third of the total of $1,864,000. Presumably the resolution was hinting that this funding would be in jeopardy if the Anglican Communion were to break with the Episcopal Church.

In addition to a break with worldwide Anglicans, the Episcopal Church action is likely to lead to further erosion here in the United States as well. News about the release of the American Religious Identification Survey earlier this year focused on the 10% drop since 1990 in the percentage of Americans who identify as Christians (from 86% to 76%), without noting that almost all of the decline occurred in the 1990s. But they also failed to highlight that the biggest drop in Christian self-identification has come among the more liberal mainline Protestant bodiessuch as the Episcopal Church, which dropped from 3.5 million adherents in 2001 to only 2.4 million in 2008.

On Marriage: Lets NOT call the whole thing off

by James Sunday

July 13, 2009

Is marriage doomed? If youre a faithful viewer of the show Jon & Kate Plus 8, youve learned that Jon and Kate Gosselin are getting a divorce. Not only are Jon and Kate calling it quits on marriage, but Billy Joel and Madonna are ending their marriages (again). Its a sad day in Hollywood when Billy Joel cant find love with any of his uptown girls and the material girls material world hasnt bought her lifelong marriage material. Now author and performer Sandra Tsing Loh has issued a doomsday proclamation against marriage in her article, On marriage: Lets call the whole thing off. Loh not only publicly announces her own divorce, but she also calls for other married couples to divorce and questions the relevance of marriage in our modern society.

Loh portrays an apocalyptic world where husbands are addicted to pornography and travel excessively to avoid their wives. Women prefer a glass of wine and a good book to the companionship of their spouse. In Lohs world husbands no longer want to have sex with their wives and women have given themselves over to Twinkies and ice cream bars. Husbands and wives live in Companionate Marriage relationships where love, romance and commitment are destroyed by monogamy and domestic household responsibilities. In place of traditional marriage, Loh offers a glimpse of a world filled with humans that are tribal creatures with open sexual relationships and children who are raised by the tribe. Her proposed new world order offers a sexual utopia where men mow the lawn and other domestic duties in exchange for sex with women.

A couples decision to divorce affects not only their own happiness, but also whether or not their children will be happy in their own future marriages. Read an analysis by Mapping America, a project of the Family Research Council, which shows that children who grow up with both biological parents experience higher levels of happiness in marriage.

Shame on husbands who are addicted to pornography, who dont romance their wives with flowers and date nights. Shame on husbands who dont make love to their wives every time as if its their wedding night. Shame on husbands who place their career before family. Shame on a husband who doesnt love and cherish his wife as if she is the only woman in the world. Equally, shame on wives who arent faithful to their husbands. Shame on wives who have traded their men for a glass of merlot and Mr. Darcy and who have put their career before their families. Shame on wives who have given up on being alluring to their husbands and have traded the affections of their husband for a date with a carton of Ben & Jerrys. Most of all, shame on husbands and wives who have placed the almighty self before the needs of their spouse and family.

I love being married and I cannot imagine life without my wife. Our love story is pretty typical: boy meets girl, girl refuses to go out with boy, girl finally goes out with boy so hell stop asking, girl falls in love with boy, they get engaged, they get married, and live happily every after. There is no doubt that being married has its ups and downs. Im sure that there are moments when its difficult for my wife to love me (especially when I put the pots and pans in the dishwasher and leave my wet towel on the bed).

Regardless of those rocky moments, marriage is a blessing and I wouldnt trade one day of marriage for some alternative sexual revolution where men and women trade sex for building shelves and mowing lawns. Marriage isnt some apocalyptic nightmare; marriage isnt about meeting your own physical, sexual, psychological and career needs. Marriage is about meeting the needs of your spouse and family. A great secret in serving your family instead of yourself: youll find joy, happiness, and fulfillment-youll find your purpose in life. Mark Twain wrote about the beauty and purpose that marriage offers. A marriage…makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, and a new mystery to life.

For Loh, Jon and Kate, Madonna, and Billy Joel, I recommend you contact Mike and Harriet McManus at Marriage Savers, an organization that seeks to ensure the success of marriages and bring healing to broken marriages. Ill also offer you a Welsh blessing, hoping and praying that your families will have better days ahead. Wishing you a House full of sunshine, Hearts full of cheer, Love that grows deeper each day of the year.

Runaway Bride (without Richard Gere and Julia Roberts)

by Michael Fragoso

June 5, 2009

The Wall Street Journal is running an interesting piece on the problems facing China’s surplus of young bachelors. The background is that 30 years of the “one child policy” coupled with Chinese “son preference” has yielded “a surplus of 32 million males under the age of 20” by the most recent count. These men are now reaching a marriageable age and, lo and behold, there simply aren’t enough women to go around as brides.

The result is that “bride prices” are increasing dramatically. To compensate, the article notes, “A study by Columbia University economist Shang-Jin Wei found that some areas in China with a high proportion of males have an above-average savings rate, even after accounting for factors such as education levels, income and life-expectancy rates. Areas with more men than women, the study notes, also have low spending rates — suggesting that many rural Chinese may be saving up for bride prices.” Unsurprisingly, these increasingly lucrative bride prices are causing increasingly common bride graft by means of “runaway brides” pocketing the money and leaving their new husbands.

This is just the beginning of the myriad problems China will face in the coming generation due to its one-child policy and the resulting sex imbalance. For more, see my article on the subject some years ago.

Same-Sex Marriage is Not Like Interracial Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

May 27, 2009

On May 27, prominent attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies (best known as one another’s opponents in Bush v. Gore, the court case regarding the disputed 2000 presidential election) announced that on May 22 they had filed a federal lawsuit seeking to establish a right to same-sex “marriage” nationwide under the U. S. Constitution.

In a press release and press conference, they cited as precedent the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in the case of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws against interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S., 12; online ). They claimed that because of this precedent, homosexuals must be “guaranteed the right to marry the person they love.”

However, the U. S. Supreme Court in Loving never described the issue in that case as an unrestricted “right to marry the person they love.” Instead, it said that “the freedom of choice to marry [cannot] be restricted by invidious racial discrimination.”

The comparison between interracial marriage and same-sex “marriage” was concisely refuted in a 2003 Indiana court decision rejecting the claim of a right to homosexual “marriage.” As the judge noted,

Unlike anti-miscegenation laws, restrictions against same-sex marriage reinforce, rather than disrupt, the traditional understanding of marriage as a unique relationship between a woman and a man. Marriage traditionally and definitionally has had to do with the sex of each participant… . Anti-miscegenation laws, because they interfered with the traditional marriage relationships in pursuit of opprobrious racial segregation policies, had no legitimate connection to the institution of marriage itself. Loving in no way held that the right to marry means the right to marry whomever one wishes. Its import is far more focused: that whatever else marriage is about, it is not about racial segregation. (Morrison v. Sadler, Marion County, Indiana Superior Court, May 7, 2003; online)

The strong legal basis for the distinction was described by another court that rejected a homosexual challenge to marriage laws, this one in New Jersey:

Plaintiffs’ reliance on decisions striking down statutes that prohibit interracial marriage is misplaced. These decisions derive from Constitutional amendments prohibiting racial discrimination and subjecting laws that classify individuals based on race to the highest level of scrutiny. No similar Constitutional provisions outlaw statutory classifications based on sexual orientation … . Comparing the State’s marriage statutes to laws perpetuating racial prejudice, therefore, is inapposite.

Individuals challenging bans on interracial marriage had a powerful weapon: Federal Constitutional provisions, passed by Congress and adopted by State Legislatures, that expressly prohibited States from denying recognized rights based on race. It was entirely appropriate for the courts to enforce those duly enacted Constitutional provisions by striking down statutes that made race a qualifying condition for access to a recognized right to marry. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, assert their claims in the absence of express Constitutional provisions supporting their position, and ask the court to circumvent the Legislative process by creating a right that has never before been recognized in this country.

The mandate for racial equality is firmly enshrined in both the Federal and State Constitutions. Importantly, two amendments to the United States Constitution expressly address racial equality [the 13th and 14th]… .

The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia is predicated entirely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition of racial classifications… .

No similar Constitutional provision accords heightened protection to individuals who claim that statutes discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation… .

… [P]laintiffs … lack the significant legal foundation that was available to the plaintiffs in Loving to demand judicial recognition of the rights they seek.

(Lewis v. Harris, Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, November 5, 2003; online )

Yes, We Can . . .

by Peter Sprigg

April 16, 2009

 … blame activist judges for same-sex marriage in Vermont.

Although advocates of homosexual “marriage” had succeeded in overthrowing the natural definition of marriage in Massachusetts, California (briefly), Connecticut, and most recently Iowa, they have had to live with the albatross that it was only through the judicial usurpation of the legislative function that they had achieved this anywhere. Not one state had ever enacted same-sex “marriage” through any process that could be described as democratic.

Vermont has changed that. On April 7, the elected Vermont legislature succeeded in overriding a gubernatorial veto of a bill to grant civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Homosexual activists have gloated that, at long last, they have achieved a victory that we conservatives cannot blame on “activist judges.”

Their historical memories are too short.

Let’s remember that the Vermont Supreme Court, in a decision issued late in 1999, was the first in the nation to rule that same-sex couples must be granted 100% of the legal rights and benefits of marriage under state law. Only under the coercive pressure of this ruling did the Vermont legislature, in 2000, coin the now familiar term “civil unions,” in order to comply without actually changing the definition of “marriage.” And it was only because Vermont had already experienced nine years of desensitization, under the court-imposed counterfeit of “civil unions,” that the legislature finally capitulated to the demands of homosexual activists to be granted the word “marriage” as well.

In the pro-homosexual war to destroy the meaning of marriage, court rulings have been the aerial bombardment, meant to soften the defenses. By accepting specious claims that homosexual “marriage” is a “civil rights” issue, courts have made it easier for liberal legislators to advance the same claim. Only now, and only because of those judicial assaults, has the ground invasion-serious efforts to legislate same-sex “marriage”-begun.

Advocates of same-sex marriage will argue, of course, that it’s perfectly legitimate for the courts to drive social change. After all, didn’t Brown v. Board of Education (1954) pave the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964? The problem with that argument is that the Brown decision was clearly rooted in the constitutional language of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, which established the principle of racial equality (albeit unfulfilled) nearly a century earlier. I’ve written elsewhere about why race is not comparable to homosexual conduct. But if advocates of same-sex “marriage” really see themselves as heirs of the civil rights movement, let them first amend the U.S. Constitution-and only then appeal to the courts.

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