As if there were only a couple…

Besides every other issue dividing politicians and the culture, which seem to abound right now, the battle for the legalization of same-sex marriage is throwing more heat than light on the larger issue of human rights.

In the past two weeks, Hawaii’s governor had to pronounce on state legislation that would have permitted gay marriage. She said no.

“There has not been a bill I have contemplated more or an issue I have thought more deeply about during my eight years as governor than House Bill 444 and the institution of marriage,” Lingle said at a news conference. “I have been open and consistent in my opposition to same-sex marriage, and find that House Bill 444 is essentially same-sex marriage by another name.”

The bill would have granted gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.

She said voters, not politicians, should decide the fate of civil unions.

“It would be a mistake to allow a decision of this magnitude to be made by one individual or a small group of elected officials,” she said.

Though that’s what happened in Washington, by the D.C. Council, subverting the will of the voters.

In September 2009, Bishop [Harry] Jackson and others filed a proposed marriage initiative with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics that would have given voters the opportunity to support the position that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia.”

The movement to protect the right of D.C. voters to vote on marriage became more urgent after the D.C. Council passed a second piece of legislation in December 2009 that, instead of merely recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, authorized the recognition of same-sex ceremonies conducted in the District itself.

However, D.C. residents wishing to vote on marriage were quickly thwarted by the unelected bureaucrats who sit on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, who ruled that the pro-marriage initiative could not proceed because it would authorize or have the effect of authorizing “discrimination” in violation of D.C.’s Human Rights Act.

As pharoah said, so let it be written, so let it be done.

When I hosted ‘The Right Questions’ radio show, Sen. Rick Santorum was a guest several times and though we talked about whatever legislators were currently working on – immigration policy, confirmation of a Supreme Court justice nominee, etc. – Santorum often talked about the ’defense of marriage act’ and the activism to replace traditional marriage laws in this country. He still is.

In a rare moment of bipartisan accord on such cultural issues, Congress and President Bill Clinton responded by enacting the Defense of Marriage Act to protect states from further judicial assault.

The later Massachusetts ruling worried advocates of traditional marriage because it was the first such decision since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to invalidating marriage laws by creating a constitutional right to consensual sexual activity of any kind. Many of us felt this would be the first of many rulings by liberal state courts invalidating marriage laws.

The response from Congress was scant and predictable. Almost every member of Congress said he or she personally supported the definition of marriage that had existed since the country was founded. But they expressed about as much commitment to righting the judicial wrong as those who say they are “personally opposed” to abortion.

They also had a convenient excuse for inaction: Congress, they claimed, had already protected marriage by passing the Defense of Marriage Act. This claptrap was designed to appease and to deceive. These marriage “supporters” knew full well that, given the propensity of judges to ignore the Constitution and the will of the people, it would be but a matter of time before DOMA, like the state marriage laws themselves, was deemed unconstitutional.

That happened [in early July], when a federal district court judge in (again) Boston ruled that the majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress passed DOMA for the one purpose forbidden by law: “to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves.”

Then, right after that column appeared, Argentina became the first Latin American country to permit gay marriage. It was a sheer political calculation by the ruling Kirchners.

The measure both cements Argentina’s reputation as a relatively liberal outlier in a socially conservative region, and delivers a big short-term political victory to the president, Cristina Fernández, and her husband and predecessor, Néstor Kirchner.

That was the motive in picking this issue.

The Kirchners were looking for a controversial bill they could force through the legislature to prove the government could still get its way, and they settled on gay marriage as the best candidate. The topic would unite their leftist base, and enable them to demonise opponents of the measure—particularly the Catholic church, with which they have long had tense dealings…

Their strategy may have paid off in the short term, according to political calculations. However

Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio was quoted by the Vatican paper as saying that the decision to legalize same-sex “marriage” represents “a war against God.”

He and the bishops of Argentina, the article says, have repeated “many times” that same-sex unions “do not possess the biological and anthropological elements that are proper of marriage and of family. In this type of union the conjugal dimension and the openness to the transmission of life are lacking.”

The Vatican paper also quoted the words of the Archbishop of San Juan de Cuyo, Alfonso Rogelio Delgado Evers, who said that the work for the dignity of people, families and children must continue. “We need to explain to the citizens that there is a type of aggression and discrimination towards normal people in this action.”

Marriage between a man and a woman to produce and take care of life “is not at all comparable to other types of union,” he said. “The politicians who approved this law did not take in to account and did not think about protecting the most vulnerable people: children.”

In one of my favorite resources, The Clash of Orthodoxies, Prof. Robert P. George notes that Christianity didn’t invent this idea of human integrity.

Did they dream up the notion that sexual immorality damages integrity of dis-integrationg the person? No. Christianity has had, to be sure, a very important role in promoting and enhancing our understanding of sexual morality. But in the dialogues of Plato and the teachings of Aristotle, in thew ritings of Plutarch and the great Roman stoic Musonius Rufus, and, of course, in Jewish tradition, one can find the core of this central, imortant teaching about the way sex is so central to integrity, and therefore so central not only to us as individuals but to us as a community. dis-integrated, individual human beings cannot form an integrated community.

Or, to nail it down to the language of the tolerance movement…

Of course, the claim that the law ought to be morally neutral about marriage or anything else is itself a moral claim.

This is at the core in the conflict between Christian, Jewish and to a large extent islamic morality and the secularist orthodoxy. And he summarizes their view starkly but in its essence:

Marriage, for secularists, is a legal convention whose goal is to support a merely emotional union – which may or may not, depending upon the subjective preferences of the partners, be marked by commitments of exclusivity and permanence, which may or may not be open to children…and in which sexual acts of any type mutually agreeable to the partners are perfectly acceptable.

Bingo. Be careful what you wish for.

The biggest danger homosexual civil marriage presents is the enshrining into law the notion that sexual love, regardless of its fecundity, is the sole criterion for marriage. If the state must recognize a marriage of two men simply because they love one another, upon what basis can it deny marital recognition to a group of two men and three women, for example, or a sterile brother and sister who claim to love each other? Homosexual activists protest that they only want all couples treated equally. But why is sexual love between two people more worthy of state sanction than love between three, or five? When the purpose of marriage is procreation, the answer is obvious.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....