Lets Not Redefine Marriage
July 16, 2004
Recent court decisions by activist judges, namely in Massachusetts, and over-zealous actions by locally elected officials have spurred renewed attempts to undermine the institution of marriage.
These activist judges, in ordering the state to legitimize same-sex marriages are attempting to change the very meaning of one of the most revered and vital foundations of our society in a way that will harm our culture.
All Americans deserve respect and civility in this debate. At the same time, the institution of marriage must be protected. For thousands of years, marriage has been universally recognized by people of different faiths and cultural traditions for the crucial role it plays in nurturing families and maintaining a healthy, caring society.
Recent court decisions call into question a state's ability to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, 44 states, far more than the three-fourths required to approve a constitutional amendment, have enacted laws that give them the right to decline to recognize same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states.
In 1996, Congress attempted to address this problem by passing, with my support, the Defense of Marriage Act. That legislation defined marriage as the union between a man and a woman, and made clear that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage. This legislation passed the Congress overwhelmingly, and was signed into law by President Clinton.
But the judicial onslaught on marriage has shown that current laws on this matter are insufficient in protecting the institution.
As President Bush remarked, "If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process." Unfortunately, the Senate last week failed to garner enough votes to move forward toward final action on a constitutional amendment to protect the definition of marriage. Senate leadership has vowed to continue pushing for an amendment, which I think is the most effective means to protect marriage.
But time is of the essence, which is why the House Judiciary Committee last week passed, with my support, the Marriage Protection Act, which will prohibit federal courts from striking down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that provides that no state can be required to recognize the same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states. A vote on this legislation in the full House of Representatives is expected soon. Short of a national response, activist judges will simply force the legal recognition of homosexual unions by rewriting the definition of marriage.
The prospect of redefining an institution far older than our own Constitution is of paramount significance. Marriage is the bedrock of the family, and the family is the cornerstone of our society. We must continue to pursue public policy which strengthens, not undermines, the family structure.