UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--H.R. 4437 -- (Senate - June 05, 2006)
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I will yield the floor when he arrives at a timely point. I want to get started on this debate. Time is short and the issues are important.
I rise to speak in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment. I chair the Constitution Subcommittee from which it came through. I am also on the Judiciary Committee from which it came through.
This is a critically important topic. It is about, fundamentally, two issues.
No. 1, it is about who is going to define marriage in America--not whether marriage is going to be defined. It is about who is going to define marriage in America. Is it going to be defined by the courts that have started this debate or is it going to be defined by legislatures and legislative bodies across the country?
That is No. 1.
No. 2, and at the very center of this, is how we will raise our next generation of children.
That is fundamental to this debate--how we raise that next generation of children. We are going to talk a lot about that.
I have a number of statistics that we are going to share. It hinges on what happens in that first debate. Who is going to define it? Defined by the legislature? Defined by the Judiciary? And No. 2, what happens to the children? It was the central question of Senator Moynihan while he was in this body before he passed away, that we should always be concerned about centrally how you raise that next generation of Americans. That is a core, that is a principle, that is something you always have to keep your eye on, and that hinges in this debate.
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from North Dakota for speaking about the constitutional amendment.
Before we left on Memorial Day, we dealt with a very important issue, and that was immigration. Immigration is now in conference committee. It is a key topic. It is my hope that by the end of this week or next we will deal with the budget and budget reforms. We need to get to a balanced budget. I believe we need to do it in 5 years. Others have said we need to cut the deficit in half in 5, if we can. We are dealing with that issue. I hope we can have support from our colleagues on the other side to move forward on those budget issues to get our budget in balance. We have had the issues of Katrina. The Presiding Officer knows so much about that; the war in Iraq. We can get there, but we will have to show some determination. I hope we get bipartisan support on that.
I also remind my colleagues that there hardly could be a more important issue than the foundational structure of how we build society and how societies have been built for thousands of years. They have been built around the institution of marriage, of a man and a woman bonded together for life. Out of that, families develop and grow and prosper. Children are raised, and that is the next generation. The next generation after that is brought forth and the generation preceding them is cared for or nurtured. That has been our fundamental structure. It hasn't been a structure of Government where we say we will have a whole bunch of Government out here to take care of people. Basically, what we say is: We will have a whole bunch of families out here to take care of people. And when that doesn't work, we will have Government support the structure and support the people who fall through the cracks. We will try to help as much as we can. We will try to help families as much as we can, and that is why we try to offer help for marriages. That is why we try to give advantages to marriages, so that that is the best structure that we know of that has been created to raise children, the next generation.
The problem we have in front of us is the institution of marriage has been weakened, and the effort to redefine it on this vast social experiment that we have going on, redefining marriage differently than it has ever been defined before, this effort of this vast social experiment, the early data that we see from other places, harms the institution of the family, the raising of the next generation. And it is harmful to the future of the Republic.
I think we can hardly have a more foundational debate regarding things of importance than the marriage amendment. I remind my colleagues that there is nothing controversial that we are debating. I will put up a chart that people have already seen. We need to remind people of the wording. The wording on this amendment is:
Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.
This is hardly profound science. This is a statement and people understand it. It is clear. We have held nine hearings in the Senate on it. The next sentence is:
Neither this Constitution, nor the Constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.
In other words, the courts cannot define marriage differently. Legislative bodies can look at it differently. The courts cannot. It says the legislature, the people's body, has to be involved in deciding the institution of marriage.
Some say this is something that was brought up by Congress in an election year because we are concerned about elections. But I can certainly say for this Senator, and everybody I know supporting this amendment, that is not the case. I view this as foundational to this society, to the future of the Republic. I think I am in pretty good company.
I will show you the next chart on this particular issue and the number of States that have taken up the issue of fundamentally deciding what marriage should look like. 45 out of 50 States have either adopted constitutional amendments or passed laws protecting traditional marriages. That means we are already beyond the three-fourths number of States that have defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. To amend the Constitution, you have to have two-thirds of the House, two-thirds of the Senate, and three-fourths of the State. We are already over three-fourths of the States. It is kind of a reverse constitutional amendment because 45 States have acted and said marriage is a union of a man and a woman, and we think it is so important that we are going to act ahead of time. We are going to go at this now so that the courts cannot beat us to the punch.
But the problem is that those are State legislatures, and they can be trumped by a Federal court, which has already happened, and their State constitution can be ruled null and void and unconstitutional. So you have 45 of the 50 States already speaking on this and saying marriage is the union of a man and a woman, feeling that it is so important that they want to act before Congress, before the Constitution can be amended. They think it is that important. They have already moved forward before this body has enacted.
Nineteen States have constitutional amendments protecting the definition of marriage as a man and a woman; 26 others have statutes. Only five have not acted to protect that law statutorily or constitutionally. I will show you the next chart. You cannot say this kind of barely passed or that it is a small majority or that people don't care about this issue. I will show you a chart of how the vote total has been going across the States, across the country, in every region of America. When a constitutional amendment in a State defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman has come up in front of the people, the people have passed it. They have passed it, and it is not by 51 to 49. It is not just in the Midwest or the South; it is in the East, it is in the West, it is everywhere. Look at the chart, starting from the earliest one in 1998 to the latest, in my State of Kansas, in 2005. Look at the margins they have passed it by. You have a low of 57 percent in Oregon on the west coast. Still, that is a strong majority. My guess is that a number of people in this body on their first election were not elected with more than 57 percent of the vote. And you have the highs of 86 percent in Mississippi, 79 percent in my State, and in North Dakota 73 percent of the vote.
It is not a small group of people saying, yes, it does matter to me; it is a strong majority of the public across the entire country that is saying we need to define this institution before the courts come in and do this vast social experiment of redefining the family unit we build families around. We need to get this defined. The average ballot in support is 71.5 percent. That is the best public opinion polling you can get--how people vote when they go to the booth in region after region, defining what marriage is. They know what they believe marriage is. If we had Senators who would vote as their States have voted, we would have 90 votes for a constitutional amendment, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. That is how their States have voted, either by a constitutional ballot or within their legislature, in the laws that they have passed.
I urge my colleagues to reconsider the language being used here. There has been strong and vitriolic language thrown out. I don't appreciate that on any side of it, whether it is supporting the constitutional amendment or against it. People are trying to make fundamental policy for the country on a fundamental issue, and that is marriage.
It is not bigotry to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. If that were the case, then you have 45 of 50 States that have done that. You have major religious institutions, Pope Benedict of the Catholic Church, and you have many other church leaders saying that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. You have different racial groups that are saying marriage is a union of a man and a woman. They are not bigoted individuals. They are simply seeking good public policy and the best place to raise a family, recognizing that the law is a teacher. If the law says you can redefine marriage any way you want to, the law teaches you can have marriage any way you want. If you define that marriage downward, you harm an institution that already is in great difficulty in this country. I will cover that much more later. Let's watch our language. We are trying to deal with a serious matter for the future of the Republic.
On Saturday, I was at a wedding in Topeka at which my daughter was the maid of honor. I don't think I am too partial in telling my colleagues that she was beautiful, radiant--not to compete with the bride, but she was beautiful, and I was very proud of her. It reminded me of that time-honored institution we are talking about--marriage, the union of a man and a woman. As I sat next to my wife, with our children next to us, other than my daughter who was in the wedding, I thought what a wonderful institution, what a way that we want to have this country built around, with grandparents and parents and children and siblings bonded together for life.
And do you know what. Families fight. There gets to be difficulties in families. But they stay together and support each other. It is the durability of that structure that helps build people. Families encourage each other. You push one another and say you ought to do this, and you can do that; and when somebody starts to fall, you pick them up. Even when you get mad, you don't go away--some people do. But you say, all right, it is family. We hang in here and we have to do that. That is what families do. That is why they are durable and good, and that is why we want to support them, because of what a family is. It is that durable set of relationships that are thick and that bind us together. We are reminded when we go to a wedding ceremony and we say here is a young couple getting married, and they are beautiful young people and they are radiant and excited and nervous; they probably don't have any clue of what they are getting into. As my wife and I said afterwards, we didn't know anything about marriage when we walked into it. Twenty-four years later, we know a little bit more about it. We know the promise and the beauty of it. We have children from it. We have been gifted with five children. You know the importance of it, of staying in there and supporting that family.
We know the values transmission that occurs in a marriage, what the parents say to their children and what they live in front of their children. We know the values transmission that takes place from grandparents, if they are surviving, to children, passing on those traditions and thoughts. It is a beautiful institution; it is one that we pass on the values from to the next generation.
It is an institution that is in trouble. We have had a lot of dissolutions of marriage in this country, as a result of any number of factors. Maybe it is the speed at which we live. We all say in our hearts we know the best thing is to have that marriage endure. We know the best thing is for the marriage to endure and to raise good, healthy children. We know the best thing is for that marriage to nurture and grow those children. We know that in our hearts. You don't have to have a law passed to tell you that.
We also know this institution is in trouble, and if you redefine it, you are going to create further problems for a fundamental institution. What you are going to do is you will take out a lot of the breath that is left in the institution, and you will move in another direction.
Mr. ALLARD. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. BROWNBACK. I will be happy to after my final point. Other countries that have redefined marriage have seen an enormous loss in the institution. Other countries that have defined this differently and have been there for a period of time have found a loss in the institution of marriage and the number of people willing to get married--to the point that most children are born out of wedlock, not born in these bonded relationships. That is the future of what takes place when you redefine a fundamental institution that everybody agrees is a union between a man and a woman. When the law teaches it is different, you will move the people away from that, and we will have fewer marriages in America. That is not what we need nor want.
I am happy to yield to the primary cosponsor of the constitutional amendment.
Mr. ALLARD. I thank the Senator from Kansas for his remarks. During several hearings we both participated in, we have heard about how a healthy marriage benefits children, how it benefits a community and the foundation of society. Don't you feel that if we don't preserve the definition of marriage, somehow or other we make marriage less relevant, and when you make it less relevant, then I think it is easier to have higher divorce rates and easier to have a dysfunctional family because the real importance of a family is lost.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Reclaiming my time, I thank my colleague for the question. I not only think that--and it strikes me that is natural to presume--that is the experience taking place in other countries. As I said, I will have some charts on this tomorrow that I will bring forward and showcase to people. The experience in Europe and the Scandinavian countries is not encouraging in what we have seen taking place with the institution of marriage. Those are places that have redefined marriage over a period of time now.
They have said marriage can be between same-sex couples. You have counties in Norway where over 80 percent of the first-born children are born out of wedlock and two-thirds of the second children are. The institution no longer means much of anything. It is defined away.
You can say: OK, that is fine because you can raise good children in that setting. You can raise good children in a single family setting or with two people living together. But from all the social data, we know that is not the best place. We know that you are asking for a lot of problems if you define marriage away or let it be defined away by the courts. If we are going to do this, if it is going to be allowed, at least let's have the people involved in this discussion and not have it done by the courts, which is where we are headed right now. This is going to be done by the courts.
I want to put another chart up to show that particular point about how many courts are taking up this issue of marriage. Here you see in all the States and all these States' legislatures they are saying marriage is the union of a man and a woman. In 45 of 50 States, marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman. What has happened in the legal framework? We have seen this in other areas in this country where the people speak and then the activists--a small group--take this matter and say we are not going to go through the legislative body and work with the people and try to change the hearts and minds of the people. We are going to go through the courts.
So what is happening in the courts on this? Nine States face lawsuits challenging traditional marriage laws--nine States. In four of those nine States, judges have already followed Massachusetts and found a right of same-sex marriage in the State constitutions--four of those nine, already. In April of 2005--and there were a number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle the last time this came up 2 years ago who said, Well, when the courts start ruling against this, when the Federal courts start ruling against this, then I will look at the need for a constitutional amendment at the Federal level. All right, we got it, unfortunately. I wish we didn't. But in April of 2005, a Federal court in the district of Nebraska held that the State's amendment, which was approved by 70 percent of Nebraskans--70 percent, which is about the same number that support Nebraska football; it is higher, I suppose, than that--but 70 percent of Nebraska voters voted for that constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and the Federal court struck it down and said it was unconstitutional. This is a Federal court saying that a State marriage law in the State's Constitution, that went to the people, supported by 70 percent of the people by a vote, is unconstitutional. All right. Now we have the Federal courts. And Federal courts challenges to the Federal DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which the prior speaker, the Senator from North Dakota, was talking about, we now have Federal challenges to that, and more is coming, more is coming. So for my colleagues to say, well, it is not a particularly important topic, and we have other things we need to deal with, that is not what the States say. The States say this is an important topic, and they are staring down the barrel of Federal courts defining it away, as the first Federal court that has ruled on this has already done, in saying marriage is not the union of a man and a woman. It is not. Somebody is going to define this--which was point one I was raising at the outset--somebody is going to define this and I believe it should be legislative bodies and the people.
No. 2, this is about the institution of marriage and how you raise the next generation. That is something I think we need to cover in some depth. We had a great debate here on this floor about immigration the 2 weeks prior to going on break and it was a great debate. Immigration is an important policy issue in this country and it is facing us now. We have a huge problem. The system is not working. We had a great debate. We need to have a great debate about marriage, about this fundamental institution, because we need to think and look and see where this institution is going. It is in a great deal of difficulty.
I want to cover this, particularly from the context of a group which has just issued a paper on it. There is an important group of prestigious American academics from top universities who have just released what I think is a groundbreaking statement of principles to guide the public debate on the marriage issue, and we have needed a debate about marriage because the percentage of people getting married has fallen, the number of divorces has risen greatly, and approximately half of our children under the age of 18 will spend a significant portion of their childhood in a single parent household. We have welfare policies in this country that penalize people for getting married. It is bad policy. And now the lowest income individuals in the United States are the least likely to get married. So I guess you could say that policy has worked. It is a horrific idea. Reagan probably had this right when he said, ``If you want more of something, subsidize it; if you want less of something, tax it.'' We have subsidized the situation of not getting married if you are in a low-income strata, and that is indeed what has happened in this country.
This group of academics has just issued from Princeton ``Ten Principles on Marriage and the Public Good.'' It is produced by top scholars in history, economics, psychiatry, law, sociology and philosophy, and presents research on why the defense of marriage is in the public interest. Now, remember, what we are talking about is in the public interest. This is what we need as a Nation. What do we need to do? What is in the public interest? And they are clearly saying that it is in the public interest to support marriage as the union of a man and a woman and have more of it, not less, and to have stronger unions, not weaker ones, and to have an institution that is supported by law, not defined out of existence by law. They say this:
In recent years, marriage has weakened, with serious negative consequences for society as a whole. Four developments are especially troubling: Divorce, illegitimacy, cohabitation, and same-sex marriage. Marriage protects children, men and women, and the common good. The health of marriage is particularly important in a free society, which depends upon citizens to govern their private lives and rear their children responsibly, so as to limit the scope, size, and power of the State.
It is families that buttress the State and also limit the scope, size, and power of the State.
The Nation's retreat from marriage has been particularly consequential for our society's most vulnerable communities: Minorities and the poor pay a disproportionately heavy price when marriage declines in their communities. Marriage also offers men and women as spouses a good they can have in no other way: a mutual and complete giving of the self. Thus, marriage understood as the enduring union of husband and wife is both a good in itself and also advances the public interest.
We affirm the following ten principles--
This is this Princeton group of scholars.
That summarize the value of marriage--a choice that most people want to make, and that society should endorse and support.
They then list these 10 principles of marriage
and the public good.
Marriage is a personal union, intended for the whole of life, of husband and wife.
Marriage is a profound human good, elevating and perfecting our social and sexual nature.
Ordinarily, both men and women who marry are better off as a result.
Marriage protects and promotes the well-being of children.
Marriage sustains civil society and promotes the common good.
Marriage is a wealth-creating institution, increasing human and social capital.
When marriage weakens, the equality gap widens, as children suffer from the disadvantages of growing up in homes without committed mothers and fathers.
A functioning marriage culture serves to protect political liberty and foster limited government.
The laws that govern marriage matter significantly.
And No. 10, ``civil marriage'' and ``religious marriage'' cannot be rigidly or completely divorced from one another.
They go on to say:
Creating a marriage culture is not the job for government. Families, religious communities, and civic institutions, along with intellectual, moral, religious, and artistic leaders, point the way. But law and public policy will either reinforce and support these goals or undermine them. We call upon our nation's leaders, and our fellow citizens, to support public policies that strengthen marriage as a social institution, including:
Protect the public understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.
Investigate divorce law reforms.
End marriage penalties for low-income families.
Protect and expand pro-child and pro-family provisions in our Tax Code.
Protect the interests of children from the fertility industry.
I ask that this important statement of principles from top American scholars be considered carefully by my colleagues. I hope it will help guide our debate on this issue.
I want to talk a bit about that in the sense that we are having a profound impact on society and we have had this shift in the importance and status of marriage that has happened during one generation--basically my generation. We had a very strong marriage culture going into the 1960s, with very low divorce rates in the United States. There were undoubtedly situations that people married into that were bad, that were abusive prior to that period of time, and there certainly are today as well. But I don't think anybody could argue that today we have too many situations where too many children are in too weak of a household structure, lacking the concentration of adults in their lives, that this fundamental breakdown of the family has allowed in many cases to happen. And then you have that huge, enormous impact on that next generation of children.
That is why this group of intellectuals has come together and said, Look, for the future of society, for the future of our culture, we need a strong marriage institution. Don't weaken it and don't redefine it away from what it is and harm it further.
I want to talk briefly about the effects on Massachusetts and the effect the change of laws in Massachusetts has had on this particular marriage debate. In terms of the societal effects of regularizing same-sex unions, some have pointed out that the legalizing of same-sex unions in some States--and this has happened in Massachusetts and in Vermont--has not destroyed the society of those States. So they are taking the counterargument on this and saying, What is the problem here? Why not just define it any way you want to and if people of the same gender want to get married, that is fine, and it is not going to hurt my marriage. That is the way the debate will come up. I am not arguing that short-term changes like this will have detectable effects immediately where you can say, OK, you are going to define it one way this year and the next year you are going to see the number of heterosexual unions decline, and you are going to see major impacts on the marriage institution. It can take and does take years for the full effects of a change like this to show up because, remember, what you are doing is you are sewing into the culture, you are changing the culture.
When you redefine an institution like marriage, you are changing the culture. You are saying, OK, we have had a foundational institution in this culture: It is marriage. It is a union of a man and a woman bonded together for life. It is where we raise our families, where we raise the next generation and bring them up; that is a foundational structure. Now we are redefining that and saying, Well, it doesn't need to be a man and a woman. That is a cultural shift, and cultural shifts take years to show up, but they will show up, and they have enormous impact.
We have seen small changes taking place already in places like Massachusetts. State marriage licenses now contain places for ``Partner A'' and ``Partner B,'' rather than husband and wife. Perhaps soon the terms ``husband'' and ``wife'' will be eradicated, and as for the terms ``mother'' and ``father'' one can only imagine what will happen to the definitions of those institutions.
Those cultural signals are not going to strengthen the American family. This issue has been thoroughly discussed and debated. I want to complete this point--and I will have more charts to show on this--of what takes place over a period of two to three decades when you redefine an institution like marriage. In fact, I want to show, and actually I believe we have a chart on that today, and I am going to pull that up here a little bit later on to show what has happened in other countries when they have redefined the institution, if we can find that chart. I want to come back to that.
Before I get to that, though, I want to point out how much we have discussed this issue. Some may suggest, Well, we are rushing this to the floor. I can't believe they would, but some might say, Well, it is just being rushed to the floor and we really don't understand the ramifications of this particular constitutional amendment, and argue from that perspective. I want to point out that we have had nine hearings on this subject from 2003, 2004, and 2005. We have held hearings with dozens of experts on this topic. We have held hearings about the impact of changing the definition of marriage. We have held hearings with legal experts and scholars of what does this two-sentence constitutional amendment mean. We have held hearings from lots of different angles on this.
One thing has certainly become clear in these hearings: Traditional marriage promotes stability in society and government has a vital interest in encouraging and providing the conditions to maintain as many traditional marriages as possible.
Once the process of redefining marriage begins, it is but a short step to the dissolution of marriage as an institution all together. I don't think that is the way we want to go, and it is certainly not the way we want to go for our children.
There is also a point about when you redefine marriage, what takes place in institutions that want to stay with a traditional definition of marriage. There now is a growing body of thought that institutions will not be allowed to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, the reason I want to have that printed in the RECORD is for people to be able to see there is another side to this. When you redefine marriage and say it can now be between two people of the same gender, what happens when an institution says that we do not agree with that? Let's say a particular church says we do not agree with that; we believe that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. They can then actually be at risk legally in their state for having that definition and that will be seen as discriminatory, to the point you saw Catholic Charities doing adoptions in Boston having to leave because they were forced to recognize same-sex union adoptions and to provide those services. They said they disagree with this as a matter of their religious tenets. So now they are no longer able to do adoptions in Massachusetts.
What happened to their religious freedom? That will be the same sort of path this will take. People will lose religious freedom if they hold a different view. If they say: We believe marriage is a union of a man and a woman, it is a basic tenet of our faith--which it is for many people and many faiths; this is a basic tenet, that marriage is a union of a man and a woman--now you are going to find that somehow discriminatory? Bigotry? They are going to be sued if they only recognize marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
I hope my colleagues who want to vote against this start to think about that because this is the trajectory many of these things have taken when they get on this track.
I promised my colleagues I would show what happened in other countries when they took on the issue of redefining marriage. We have other countries that have done this. The point I want to make is marriage is a fundamental institution. We need to support it and grow it. If you redefine marriage, this is not the way to support and grow marriage. This is not the way to support and grow marriage.
Some will say there will just be more marriages that will take place. That is not the experience in other countries, particularly in northern Europe. They have redefined marriage, and it has not happened that way. You get fewer marriages and you get more children born out of wedlock. If you say, OK, we get more children born out of wedlock, the problem is you put children in a less than optimal environment. This goes against the Moynihan principle: You should always look at what you do to the next generation, and you should be as supportive as you can to the next generation.
This chart shows, for the Netherlands, out-of-wedlock births and the campaign for same-sex marriage in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is a particularly interesting case because they had a very stable marital environment for a long period of time. In all of Europe, it was one of the most stable marital environments in which children were born in wedlock, up until a very recent period of time. Up until 1980 you still have less than 5 percent of children born out of wedlock. One of the lowest rates in all of Europe was in the Netherlands. Then, when they started to have this debate on same-sex marriage, a lot of things changed in the Netherlands, the same way as happens here.
It goes in the court system. A small group of activists go in the court system and say: We can't change the overall body politic, but we will go into the courts and we will use the courts to change society that way. So we will get at them through the courts, the same play as happening here.
In 1980 we have 5 percent of the total births out of wedlock. Then the first court cases start hitting in the late 1980s and you are at or around a little above 10 percent, the first court cases hitting on same-sex unions.
You can just see that pattern skyrocket, the percentage of total births of children born out of wedlock from when you start redefining. You are speaking this into the culture and saying to the culture: Marriage isn't only the marriage of a man and a woman, it can be two men, two women, whatever we want to define it to be. We need to do this. It is something that is discriminatory otherwise.
You can just see that thing take off, the number of children born out of wedlock.
Again, if you say: That is just a consequence of it, I guess that is the way it is, the problem is, that is not the way it was, nor is it the way it needs to be, nor is it the way it should be for our children in the next generation. We should be strongly concerned about how that next generation is raised and the nurturing environment they are raised in. Recognizing people are going to have trouble in marriages--they are, but we still don't want to take that optimal design away. We want to encourage that optimal design. We know that is the place where it works the best.
I want to show a chart to make a couple of points. Ever since proposals for same-sex marriage began to be debated, the out-of-wedlock birth rate in the Netherlands has soared. Same-sex marriage has increased the culture separation of marriage from parenthood in the Netherlands.
Scandinavia is the area in the world that has the longest track record of same-sex unions. They have embraced it for the longest period of time. These are the countries, then, where we have the most developed data. This is the law being used to change the culture.
I think I am paraphrasing Senator Moynihan--he was a great cultural commentator--a comment he made in one of his books. He wrote that the central conservative truth is that culture is more important than government. In other words, what your culture says it honors and dishonors is more important than government. That was central conservative truth.
The central liberal truth is, you can use laws to change culture. Here you see the effort to use a law to change culture taking place. The system of marriage like same-sex registration partners established in the late 1980s has contributed significantly to the ongoing decline of marriage in this region. The rates for both first and second and later births to cohabiting couples have risen substantially. Instead of arguing that same-sex marriage encourages marriage among heterosexual parents, it is used as evidence that marriage is outdated. Where gay marriage finds acceptance, marriage has virtually ceased to exist in some areas.
We have a chart where 80 percent of the first-born children, as I mentioned, were born out of wedlock. Is that the trajectory we want to go on? Is that where we want this society to go? Is that the sort of country we want to have in the future? Is that where we are willing to go?
I think people are going to argue a whole bunch of different ideas. There is going to be a lot of blustering about this, but the basic question is pretty simple. Do you
believe and do you support that marriage is a union of a man and a woman? Do you think that is the foundation of society or not? People are going to yell and scream a lot of things about some form of bigotry, or that this is being done for political purposes, Or this or that, or they are going to try to say: It doesn't hurt my marriage. I am just saying we have basic social data on this vast social experiment of redefining marriage. We know where it heads.
I think if any of us really search in our own hearts we are pretty comfortable that if you redefine this institution you are unlikely to get more of it. You are more likely to get less of it.
I hope people will ask the next question. Is this the best place to raise the next generation? Is this the best message to send on how to raise that next generation? I ask people to ask their own hearts--look at the data. We have the data on it, but ask in their own hearts because this is a big, deep, serious one. This is an important one.
I respect my colleagues who have a different position. I respect people in the United States who have a different position on this particular issue. There are good people on all sides of this issue. But the data is what it is. People, if they just ask in their own hearts, they know the right answer to this particular topic, as tough as it might be. But this is an important one. It will be defined by us or by the courts.
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I understand some of my other colleagues will be coming to the floor. I urge them to get to the floor to make statements. Tomorrow there will be more individuals coming in. It will probably get crowded. So if people want to make an opening statement, this will be an excellent time to do it.
While we are waiting for individuals to come to the floor, I want to share some of the information we put together on this institution of marriage so we can use the time profitably while we have this debate on the floor.
I want to talk about the issue of what happens to children in this institution of marriage. I believe I am saying some of the things my grandparents would say: Well, of course that is true, this kind of basic thought or idea that you get in a society. But I think there are things that need to be reiterated.
Now we have social data in the United States to say what happens when you walk away from a fundamental institution, and one like marriage, that it has as much trouble as it has.
I want to point to the number of children born out of wedlock in the United States and where we have been going with this data. In the 1930s, 4 percent; 1950s up to 5.3 percent, now up to 34.6 percent.
We have roughly a third of the children in the United States born to single moms. It is not that you cannot have a good child-rearing situation there, but, as we will show later on, it just gets much more difficult to raise that child. It is important that child be raised between a loving couple.
I want to show the next chart, if we could, on this particular point. Developmental problems are less common in two-parent families. This is something I want to share. It is the sort of thing my parents would be looking at and saying: Of course, we know that is the case. But now we have the social data on it. You have single-parent families in the green, you have two-parent families in red. You see the lower half of class academically--it is twice as likely to be in that single-parent household; developmental delays, 10 percent more likely; emotional or behavior problems, more than twice as likely to have problems in that particular category as well, in that single-parent household.
I want to show the next chart and show this: Nearly 80 percent of all children suffering long-term poverty come from broken or never-married families. I will cover this in more detail tomorrow because this is a product--partially, if not a majority product--of government policies on welfare.
That penalizes people for getting married if they are in the welfare system.
As you can see, nearly 80 percent of children suffering long-term poverty come from broken and never-married families. One of the two best ways known out of poverty in the United States is to get a job and get married. I will develop that thought more tomorrow. We are actual trying some innovative experiments here in Washington, DC, on what can be done and should be done to remove the marriage penalty from our welfare policies and programs.
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I want to address a couple other issues on this marriage amendment and at the same time urge my colleagues who want to speak on this particular amendment to come to the Senate so we can have as fulsome debate as possible. If any Member comes to the floor, I will yield to them so they can get a chance to put their information forward.
There has been a developing body of thought, and I think this is a very important one to look at, the issue of religious freedom that develops from redefining marriage. I have entered into the RECORD already an article by Maggie Gallagher catching quite a bit of interest because it is of particular concern. I will develop this more fully.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that same-sex marriage poses a significant threat to religious liberties. Scholars on both the left and the right agree that same-sex marriage has raised the specter of the massive and protracted battle over religious freedom. Where courts impose the same-sex marriage regime as a constitutionally guaranteed right, a multitude of new religious liberty conflicts will inevitably arise at every point where the law touches marriage and is applied to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and even churches and synagogues. Unfortunately, and especially in the era of Employment Division v. Smith, once a court has recognized the right to same-sex marriage, religious organizations are unlikely to find much relief in free exercise claims because of this decision of
Employment Division v. Smith.
Same-sex marriage proponents argue that sexual orientation is like race and that opponents of same-sex marriage are, therefore, like bigots who oppose interracial marriage. Once same-sex marriage becomes law, that understanding is likely to become controlling.
Legally, same-sex marriage will be taken by courts as proof that a public policy in support of same-sex marriage exists, so in States with same-sex marriage, religiously affiliated schools, adoption agencies, psychological clinics, social workers, marital counselors, et cetera, will be forced to choose between violating their own deeply held beliefs and giving up government contracts, tax-exempt status, or being denied the right to operate at all. If a religious social service agency refuses to offer counseling designed to preserve the marriage of a same-sex marriage couple, it could lose its tax-exempt status. Religious schools would either have to tolerate conduct they believed to be sinful or face a cutoff of Federal funds. It is already happening, as we have seen in Massachusetts with Boston's Catholic Charities being forced out of the adoption business entirely rather than violating church teachings on marriage and family.
Free speech could also be under threat as sexual harassment in the workplace principles are used by nervous corporate lawyers to draw speech prohibitions on the marriage issue. Fear of litigation will breed self-censorship. One expert predicts ``a concerted effort to take same-sex marriage from a negative right to be free of state interference to a positive entitlement to assistance by others.''
Some people say the answer is conscious exemption, but no legislative exemption can offer the same protection to traditional religious groups as a constitutional amendment. As one of the religious scholars has pointed out, even to attempt to create legislative protections would be a staggeringly difficult and complex project. And what the legislature gives, it can take away later. That is what has been happening all over Europe. Protecting marriage now will spare us many intense religious liberty conflicts down the road.
The lesson in this is clear. There is a lot more at stake in the battle over same-sex marriage than the marriage issue itself, important as that is. Our Nation's long tradition of religious liberty faces its greatest threat in a generation or more such that the very ability of religiously affiliated organizations to exist and operate is under threat.
I hope my colleagues will take a serious look at this issue and people can look at it and say: Wait a minute, it will not really develop that you will have this take place. But that is what took place in Massachusetts, where you had a Boston-based group, Catholic Charities, that does adoptions, but within the Catholic Church they say: We do not agree with same-sex adoptions, as far as same-sex marriage adopting children, and we are not going to provide that service to same-sex couples because of the beliefs of our organization, the tenets of our faith. Then they were run out of Boston and out of Massachusetts, rather than be forced to practice something that was against the tenets of their faith.
I don't think that is a route we want people to go or be forced to go, to give up the tenets of their faith in order to do something so basic as adoption, or in this case something so basic as performing marriages, like the one I attended on Saturday that was at a church. Are we going to say that churches which will not do same-sex couple unions cannot perform marriages at all because if they just perform them for heterosexual couples and not for homosexual couples, that is bigotry, that is against a fundamental right of people of same-sex unions, so if they are going to do any marriages, they must do all marriages?
People need to think about the profound implications of recognizing this right as it moves on through the courts and the court system. I don't think that is the intent people particularly have or want to have or that we should have.
I had printed in the RECORD an article entitled ``Banned in Boston. The coming conflict between same-sex marriage and religious liberty.'' That was wherein a scholar by the name of Maggie Gallagher, in quite an extensive article, an article that you start to recognize when we redefine a fundamental institution such as marriage--you get into issues and problems such as this which will take place.
A couple of Members are arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act is sufficient. I don't think that at all does the job of defining and supporting the institution, the fundamental institution of marriage and protecting that.
First, it is a statute. It is not a constitutional amendment. As such, as a Federal statute, it can be overruled and overturned by a court. We need to be able to have this at the constitutional level, where it is deciding fundamental constitutions or the ones being raised not at a statutory level. Define that and develop that a little bit more somewhat later.
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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, I understand Senator McConnell will be closing today's session. I wanted to finish with a point I made earlier today. I have talked about other countries and what took place when they redefined the institution of marriage.
And it has a great deal of difficulty for this society. It results in fewer marriages. There was a letter released 2 years ago that was addressed to parliamentarians around the world debating same-sex marriage. It was done by a group of five Dutch scholars. This is one of the countries I have cited that has redefined marriage, saying that it can be same-sex unions. They were raising concerns about gay marriages and the negative effect on the institution of marriage in the Netherlands. It was published July 8, 2004, in a leading Dutch newspaper:
There are good reasons to believe the decline in Dutch marriage may be connected to the successful public campaign for the opening of marriage to same-sex couples in The Netherlands.
The letter signatories came from several academic disciplines, including social sciences, philosophy, and law. The scholars cautioned against attributing all of the recent decline in marriage to same-sex unions.
There are undoubtedly other factors which have contributed to the decline of the institution of marriage in our country. Further scientific research is needed .....
At the same time, we wish to note that enough evidence of marital decline already exists to raise serious concerns about the wisdom of the efforts to deconstruct marriage in its traditional form.
The reason I cite this is that there are going to be a number of people saying all you can find are going to be conservative scholars to say that this has had a negative impact on the Netherlands. That is not the case. They are saying things having a negative impact there. They noted in recent years there is statistical evidence of Dutch marital decline including ``a spectacular rise in the number of illegitimate births.'' That is their words. By creating a social and legal separation between the ideas of marriage and parenting, these scholars warn that same-sex marriages may make young people in the Netherlands feel less obligated to marry before having children. Publication of the letter of warning was accompanied by a front page news interview. In the interview, a Dutch law professor said that ``the reputation of marriage as an institution in Holland is in serious decline.'' ``The Dutch need to have a national debate on how to restore traditional marriage. The decision to legalize same-sex marriage, in my view, has been an important contributing factor to the decline in the reputation of marriage.''
One of the letters is from a Dutch citizen who heads a research unit on culture and communications at Nottingham Trent University. He has done a comparative study of family life and sexual attitudes in the Netherlands and Britain. He is also acquainted with research on American marriage. He believes that gay marriage has contributed to the decline in the reputation of Dutch marriage. It is ``difficult to imagine'' that the Dutch campaign for gay marriage did not have serious social consequences, and he cites an intensive media campaign based on the claim that marriage and parenthood are unrelated.
The Dutch scholars are not the only ones to assert that the institution of marriage has been weakened by legal and social recognition of same-sex unions. In January of this year, a French Government commission examining possible changes in French law recommended against legalizing same-sex marriage. It is not my custom to cite the French in the U.S. Senate. I often disagree if I do cite them. But listen to what they were recommending. This commission came out against legalizing same-sex marriage based on its examination of the impact of legalized same-sex marriage in Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Spain, the four countries where it is legal, as well as European countries. We have a French commission that looked at where these laws have taken other countries already. The French have not gone there yet. They are saying, let's study this, which I think would be a wise thing for us to do. Let's look and see what has happened in other countries, as the French have done. Their report--the parliamentarian report on the family and the rights of children--came out against a right to marriage for same-sex couples. This is certainly no conservative think tank group saying this. This is the French Government. The commission came to this conclusion when it considered the consequences for the child's development and the construction of his or her identity of creating a fictitious affiliation by law, two fathers and two mothers--this is their statement--which is biologically neither real or plausible. They were heard on this point and they failed to persuade a majority of the commission to support recognizing the rights of a child or marriage for same-sex couples.
That is a French commission examining other European countries that have legalized same-sex unions saying this is not good for France or for the raising of the next generation.
In addition to these sources, some of the most influential sociologists in Europe agree that same-sex marriage undermines the traditional institution of marriage, even if they welcome the change. So, in other words, they are saying we might welcome the change, but this is going to hurt marriage. They agree that same-sex marriage doesn't reinforce marriage, as many of its proponents argue but, rather, upends marriage and helps foster acceptance for a variety of other forms, such as single parenting, cohabitation, and multiple partner unions, which only serve to weaken traditional marriage. This is what happens when you move away from your standard of marriage being the union of a man and a woman. It weakens the institution and moves in a lot of other types of arrangements.
Britain's Anthony Giddens, one of the most influential sociologists in all of Europe, wrote that modern marriage is being emptied of any meaning beyond the emotional bonding of adults, something he quotes as the ``pure relationship.'' This notion of the pure relationship is being widely used by European social scientists to explain why so many parents now avoid marriage. Having a child is an experiment in an adult relationship that could possibly lead to marriage, rather than a reason to get married in the first place. It is clear that the institution of marriage has been defined down. It is simply a shared affection between two adults.
This is precisely how the advocates of same-sex marriage define marriage--no intrinsic connection to marriage. European sociologists say that a whole host of changes, like single parenting, cohabitation, and multiple partner unions, point to the unraveling of marriage as an institution designed to keep mothers and fathers together and for the sake of their children.
German sociologists, Ulrich Beck and Elizabether Beck-Gernsheim, also highly contend that raising rates of parental cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births indicate that marriage, while seemingly alive, is in fact dying. The old notions of marriage and family are giving way to domestic situations in which individuals make up their own rules. Individual choice hollows out the old institutions, such as marriage and family, that used to guide our choices. These authors actually embrace and celebrate the instability of the brave new family system, holding that family disillusion teaches children a hard, but necessary, lesson about our new social world.
Is that the sort of message we want to send? It is the message that is coming through the courts if we don't define this legislatively. The work of Norwegian sociologist Keri Moxnes, frequently used by European social scientists, is to put the movement in context. Moxnes welcomes same-sex marriage not as a way of ratifying marriage itself but as an innovation that affirms and advances marriage's ongoing decline. She defines marriage as being an increasingly empty institution.
Is that the message we want to send? In the U.S, many sociologists are of the same opinion. One argues that these wrenching social changes disrupt conventional sexual and domestic relations and undermine traditional marriages, but also believes that all of these are signs of the decline of the traditional family. From same-sex unions, to births, to cohabiting parents, to mothers who are single by choice, release individuals from the constraint of traditional marriage.
I want to conclude on that point to reaffirm what is really taking place here, and that is the redefining of a fundamental institution. We can say this is somehow a politicized debate, that it is not important. But from what we are seeing in countries that have taken up this debate, it is clearly important. It goes to the heart of the fundamental institution of marriage and weakens it further. It is an institution that we want to support, and this move destroys it further, takes it down further. That has been the research results that have taken place in Europe.
This is a big debate. It is a big and important problem and issue. We should not kid ourselves about what this is about by saying we don't really need to do this now. If we don't do it and it is redefined by the courts, that is the track we are on--tearing down this institution around which we have built families. Is that what the American people want to do? We have seen them vote in 45 States saying, no, we want marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
We should not kid ourselves. This is seriously about the future of the culture of the United States.
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