The Respect for Marriage Act has sailed through the US Senate, amidst great jubilation. Twelve Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, voted with Democrats to pass the legislation by a vote of 61-36. Now it goes to the lame-duck House of Representatives, where it is certain to pass.
This will be one of President Joe Biden’s signature achievements. The Act will basically codify Obergefell v Hodges, the US Supreme Court decision which legalised same sex marriage. If SCOTUS happens to overturn Obergefell, as many people fear, same sex marriage will still be safe.
The President tweeted that: “our nation is on the brink of reaffirming a fundamental truth: love is love.”
New York Senator Chuck Schumer, whose daughter is a married lesbian, tweeted: “the Senate has sent a message to Americans everywhere: No matter who you are or who you love, you deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law.”
Heart-warming sentiments, these. What lies ahead for same-sex marriage now that the US Congress is about to codify “love is love”?
The Senators who voted against the Respect for Marriage Act warn that it will be used to strip religious institutions of their tax-exempt status. Texas Senator Ted Cruz commented that “Not only does the so-called Respect for Marriage Act open the door for a weaponized IRS to target religious non-profits, but it will start a race to the bottom, forcing the most extreme marriage laws from any state onto every other state.”
In a speech to the Senate Utah Senator Mike Lee reminded his colleagues that the possibility of a conflict with religious freedom was also predicted in the oral arguments before SCOTUS:
Justice Alito asked whether, should states be required to recognize same-sex marriages, religious universities could lose their tax-exempt status. His response, the response from [then] Solicitor General Verrilli was chilling. He said, quote, “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It’s going to be an issue.” …
But if you want to look even further ahead, consider Spain, which legalised same-sex marriage in 2005, ten years before Obergefell v Hodges. After almost two decades of experience, it is moving on to bigger and better things. The government there is a left-wing coalition and the Minister of Social Rights and 2030 Agenda, Ione Belarra, belongs to Podemos, a party at the extreme left of the left-wing.
Next week she will present a draft of a new law on families to the Spanish Parliament. This lists 16 kinds of families, according to an exclusive in the ABC newspaper.
The bill’s explanatory memorandum states: “The family no longer exists, only families, in the plural, exist”. Based on rulings by Spain’s Constitutional Court, it declares that “the concept of family is not limited to those of matrimonial origin”.
Accordingly, the Minister says that Spain must give full legal recognition to this array of families and to protect and support them with government services.
Here is the list:
- Two-parent families
- Single mother or single father families
- Young families
- LGBTI families
- Families in need of support
- Multiple families
- Blended families
- Immigrant families
- Transnational families
- Intercultural families
- Families living abroad
- Families returned from aboard
- Vulnerable families
- Married couples
- Defacto couples
- Single-person families
The linguistic and legal creativity is astonishing. What’s notable about the list is that none of the 16 categories corresponds to the traditional definition of family: a married woman and a man and, if they exist, their children.
In Minister Belarra’s narrative, two-parent families (familia biparental) include married couples and defacto couples and could even squeeze in gay and lesbian couples. Married couples (personas unidas en matrimonio) include heterosexual and homosexual couples. She has even created new words to describe gay and lesbian couples (familia LGTBI homomarental y homoparental).
Clearly Belarra’s aim is to create a blizzard of labels in which the nuclear family disappears from view. It will no longer have a privileged place in Spanish law or a special claim on government services.
Furthermore, Spanish schoolchildren will be catechised in the new order of things. According to the draft bill, “family diversity is a principle of the educational system”. The list of family types must be included in textbooks and in the syllabus for trainee teachers.
What if parents object?
The bill specifically states that “parents or responsible adults may not limit or impede the access of children and adolescents to information and their participation in activities to raise awareness and disseminate family diversity that take place within the educational framework, in order to avoid restricting their rights to education and the free development of their personality”.
Spain is a country where politicians like Ione Belarra are unafraid of defending and imposing loopy laws. Once in power, opposition energizes them and fills them with righteous conviction. Whether or not her proposals succeed completely, it is clear that the nuclear family in Spain is in the sights of a very large LGBTQI cannon.
In the near term, the Spanish experience will not easily transfer to the United States, which has a federal system of government and a larger and more intellectually diverse population.
However, it’s a clear warning of what lies ahead. If American courts and legislatures can redefine marriage to include gay and lesbian couples, why can’t they include polyamory or polygamy?
Or still worse, redefine marriage to include so many relationships that it means nothing at all?