MARRIAGE PROTECTION -- (House of Representatives - September 29, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Miller of Michigan). Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 2003, the gentleman from New Mexico (Mr. Pearce) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, I thank the body for allowing us to speak tonight on this extremely important issue.
The state of a society is an ongoing process. We tend to want to think that we can pass along our values and the rights and freedoms that we have in a current age to those in the next generation. For instance, I just think that I can pass along the right to my daughter, who can pass along to our grandson and granddaughter the rights to own a business or the rights to a public education, or maybe even the right to understand exactly what society is about, the good parts and the bad parts.
Well, the Nation is involved right now in a discussion about what is best for America when it comes to marriage. The Massachusetts Supreme Court made a decision a couple of months ago that began to cause us all to think about what is the right definition for marriage, how should we change it, why should we change it, or should we change it.
We have several Members here on the floor tonight to help present this discussion to this body, and I yield to the gentlewoman from Colorado (Mrs. Musgrave) who is the sponsor to the amendment to the Constitution that would declare marriage as simply between a traditional man and woman.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman to explain her ideas.
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Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Colorado (Mrs. Musgrave) for cosponsoring this amendments.
We hear a lot of discussion in this Nation about tolerance and about diversity and we should hear all sides of the discussion, but I will tell Members that the same people who shout loudest about tolerance and diversity have been the same people who have attacked the sponsor of this amendment to the Constitution. She has had threats made on her life. She has had slurs and insults thrown into her face, and she has tolerated abuse no one should have for simply speaking in America.
I worry in this same discussion about what the marriage is and what the family is and what it consists of, I worry that the opponents in this argument really do not want free speech, they do not want a public discussion. And that is what we are saying on this side of the aisle, that the discussion should be taken to the American people, that judges who are not elected should not make this decision; and that is exactly what is going to happen if we do not have the courage to make a stand and to identify what we think is the language which should amend the Constitution of the United States.
Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for having the courage to withstand the death threats from the people who disagree with her, and for standing tall and for defining the moment in American history that is before us right now.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Pence) to talk about this issue.
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Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, there are a lot of questions that I am given when I bring this subject up in the district that I represent and they are fair questions and they are good questions and I think that we have a responsibility to deal with some of those questions. Many people say, aren't you just infringing on the rights of the gays and lesbians? It does not appear that we are. What appears that we are trying to do is to say that gays and lesbians have the right to choose any life-style they want but what we are going to limit is their ability to redefine what marriage is.
Marriage is not defined by the Constitution. Marriage really is not even defined in law first.
Marriage was defined in nature first. It is in nature that we find that men and women come together to have children and in the process of having the children, the sexual acts that caused the children create bonds that cause the couples to stay together. Those bonds create the family that sustain and nurture and raise and defend and protect our children. This argument is not about what is right for any class of people except children. When we move the children out of the central focus, we begin to stray away from the most vital, important part of this discussion because it is through the children that we have the next generation, the generation that will work and sustain us, the generation that will produce succeeding generations.
Those countries which have already admitted same sex marriages as a right and as a law, we find that in those societies that marriage is beginning to dissipate and disappear. Some would say, so what? So what is that the main structure, the main defense mechanism, the main way that children are born, raised and put onto the path in life that they should be put on is the family. So we cannot have a so-what attitude about it. We must understand that if we choose this, that it is going to radically affect our Nation and radically affect those things in society which keep our standards the way they are which make this Nation great.
If it is the decision of the majority of the American people to do that, it is one thing; but if it is the opinion of some activist judges who wish to redefine the American culture, then I think America is speaking out right now and we have an obligation to listen to what America is saying.
I would like to recognize another one of my colleagues, the gentlewoman from Virginia (Mrs. Jo Ann Davis) who is always involved in issues involving the family.
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Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her comments. They address the issue in a very sensitive and appropriate way.
We have many people who say to me also, What does it matter? Gays can love each other. Should they not be allowed to marry?
And it is a very compelling question, one that we should look at. I will tell the Members that emotions are not the basis for raising children. They are not the basis of relationships. If emotions are the basis of relationships, if love is the question, two brothers can love each other. Would we allow them to marry? But when we bring that argument up, our opponents say, no, no, we do not want to go there. But I am sorry, that is where we go if we begin to say that love, that emotions are the basis of relationships. If love is the basis, two men can love two women. Why not all four get married? One man can love five women.
If we are going to do that, if we are going to allow emotions to determine that love is fine for the same-sex marriage, what we do is we give away the legal standing for prohibiting those things which become more onerous: incestuous marriage; the polygamists; polymorphism; or, even worse, the child-adult relationships that we have been able to keep so far as a thing that should not be approved in society. But once we give in to the rationalization that the marriage relationship is only about love, not about nature, we give up all the legal arguments that would keep us from moving into each one of those successively. One might say that is ridiculous, that no one would do that. But I will tell the Members that there are websites currently suggesting each one of those forms of relationships should be legalized, standardized and to be made public. So it is a very critical question here, what we are dealing with, and I think the Nation must be involved. We must not leave it to the decisions my friends say of the United States Supreme Court. My greater fear is that it is going to be one of the State Supreme Courts that makes the decision for the rest of the Nation, and I think that we see that potential time after time.
We are joined tonight by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary's Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property Subcommittee. I appreciate his willingness to talk about this issue and give his insights.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith).
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Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman from Texas for his comments and appreciate his principled stand on so many issues.
Madam Speaker, we have to admit that marriage is universal. People ask me when I make the comment that nature has defined what marriage is first, law simply tries to capture it in language: What does it matter that nature describes what marriage is? Basically, there is a design to all things. There is an order to the universe. Marriage is universal. What the left is trying to do is to upset that order and to take order completely away because there will be no order once there are not restrictions on exactly the definition of marriage.
But beyond that, we must understand that when nature designs, any time we break a design, things just do not function as well. For instance, a car, that has a design to run on gasoline with oil in the engine. If we reverse the process and put oil in the gas tank and gasoline in the oil containment part of the vehicle, the design is not well served, and the machine simply does not work.
It is very true in nature, too. Our bodies are designed with blood to run through our veins, the heart pumping blood. But if we take the blood out and replace it with water, we find that the design simply quits working.
And it is the contention of many social scientists that marriage is one of the natural designs that simply will quit working if the design is not understood and adhered to.
So it is very critical, as we look at these things, to understand that marriage is far more than just a current-day definition. It is something where men and women have come together throughout history in all nations. All nations of different government types, tyranny, freedom, they all have one constant, that marriage is between a man and a woman and the family is better served, children are better served, when we have a clear definition of what marriage is. And children are the issue in this debate.
I have a gentleman here tonight from Iowa who is a good friend and whose views I often wait to hear.
Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King).
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Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman for his comments,
Again, I would reiterate this question is about children. To those who would ask what about the gays and lesbians who are affected, no one would choose for them the lifestyle that they have chosen. But we do contend earnestly to defend the right of the people to continue to define marriage in the traditional sense as between a man and a woman.
There are those who would say, what gives you the right to limit the gays' and lesbians' freedoms? And the response is what gives us as a society the right to choose our desires over the needs of children? Because children are the question, and children are the objective of the marriages.
There are those who say that traditional marriage is plagued with divorce and should we not fix divorce if we are so concerned about the traditional marriage?
You would have to look at other arguments in the same vein. We all drive cars, and cars have crashes. Would crashes not argue against the use of cars? No, crashes simply tell us we should design better cars, we should drive more carefully, we should act with restraint, but they do not tell us we should not drive cars.
Neither does divorce, no matter how heinous it is, and it is a deep problem in our society, but it does not argue against the traditional marriage.
The people wonder who gets harmed if we make this change. If we redefine the marriage in society, who is harmed by that? I will tell you who gets harmed: the people of this Nation, who lose the right to define marriage as the union of a husband and wife get harmed, because even now in this country there are attempts to define and to codify and to put into law hate crimes legislation which would begin to chill the discussion about values that one family would like to pass on to their kids and to their grandkids.
If courts rule that same sex marriage is a civil right, then people like you and me who believe that children need moms and dads, we will be treated like bigots and racists. Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemption or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities unless they endorse gay marriage.
It gets to a point where in the classroom every description of families would have to include the whole universe of families, because we have already seen that happen. We have seen that the people on the liberal left would redefine even the way that we talk to our children.
Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate is just the same as a husband and wife being intimate. That is not something that many of us feel comfortable with, and that is not something that I think should be forced on us by an activist Supreme Court.
If that is to be the way we are to govern and that is to be the way we live, it is right and proper that we would take that discussion to the American people. That discussion should be on every street corner, not in the closed chambers of the supreme court of some State, any State, or even the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Supreme Court has made decisions before about values, and we have had to amend the Constitution to change that. The most notable example is when the Supreme Court said in the Dred Scott decision that the will of the majority cannot be used to tyrannize the minority. It is almost the same rationale that was used in Lawrence v. Texas.
The will of the majority cannot be used to tyrannize minority, the court said, and we fought a civil war over it, because the will of the majority said slaves should be free and the Supreme Court said the slaves will not be free.
Not to have learned their lesson after the Civil War was fought and after we amended the Constitution, the Supreme Court came back 100 years later in the Plessy v. Ferguson case and said that if we could not have our way and mandate slavery, we, the Supreme Court, will mandate separate but equal facilities. Again, it took our society a long time to overcome those Supreme Court decisions.
It would be much simpler and much easier if we would recognize right now that the American people should be the ones to determine this issue; and I, for one, am supporting the attempt of the gentlewoman from Colorado (Mrs. Musgrave) to amend the Constitution of the United States to declare in the minds of people for once and for all that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.
I will stand and fight for any one person's right to choose their life style, but I will also oppose their attempt to redefine for all of America exactly what marriage is.
Madam Speaker, I recognize that my colleague, the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. King), would like to address this issue again, and would yield to him.
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Mr. PEARCE. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Iowa. A couple more questions. People ask, is it fair? What about benefits? Are gay couples, if they cannot marry, denied benefits? If medical proxies are not working, let us fix that problem. If people need health care, let us fix that problem, but let us not mess with marriage.
Marriage is about children and it is about the best institution for raising children, and that is the issue. Kids are better off with a mother and father. The issue is not whether gays can be good parents or not; no one is talking about that. We are saying that children are generally better off with a loving mother and a loving father; and that is the role, that is the method, that is the paradigm that works best.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the people who have helped me present this case to this body.