“During an interview with ABC, President Obama said, ‘I make a mistake every hour, every day.’ I wouldn’t mind that so much if he didn’t keep signing them into law.” – Fred Thompson
How to Win the Marriage Debate: The Flaw in the Ninth Circuit’s (and Most Everyone Else’s) Reasoning By Selwyn Duke
The big news on the culture-war front is a federal court’s striking down of Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment protecting marriage. In a two-to-one ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wrote, “The people may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.”
Now, I’m not sure why the judges mention a “disfavored group,” as if singling out a “favored” one for unequal treatment would be okay. As far as I know, the 14th Amendment, on which the court based its ruling, doesn’t offer equal protection to only those the current fashions deem “disfavored.” Thus, I think this is an example of emotionalism influencing a ruling and its language, sort of as if a judge sentenced a defendant and, adding an adjective, announced him as “stupid” Mr. Smith. Calling a group “disfavored” is similarly a subjective judgment. This is not the only thing the judges were subjective about, however.
Speaking to bias, some may point out here that the Ninth Circuit is the most overturned court in the nation and that the two judges who ruled against Prop. 8 were appointed by Democrats. Yet the reality is that they’re hardly alone: virtually everyone – including conservatives – misses the 800-pound gorilla with the pink tutu and rainbow flag in the middle of the marriage debate.
The court’s reasoning is that a state cannot deny homosexuals the right to “marry” if that right has already been established for others. This certainly seems to accord with the 14th Amendment, which reads, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” So, by the judges’ lights, since Prop. 8 abridges for one group a privilege afforded everyone else, it is unconstitutional.
But what really is the central issue here? It isn’t whether marriage is a right or a privilege; it isn’t whether it is covered under the Constitution. It isn’t even whether or not homosexuals have a right to “marry.” The crux of the matter is this: what is this right or privilege?
If the court rules that there is a right to a certain thing, it must know what that thing is. Yet if the court accepted that the thing called “marriage” is the union between a man and woman, there would be no debate. The judges would simply state that, just like anyone else, homosexuals have a right to marry – to form that time-honored union between themselves and a member of the opposite sex.
Now, some will say the court accepts that there has been a redefinition of marriage. If so, they had best tell us what it is. Because, you see, our leftist marriage engineers have not redefined marriage.
They have undefined it.
They have not said that marriage is the union between any two people. If they did, they’d render themselves just as “exclusionary” and “discriminatory” as those they decry and relinquish a hammer with which they bludgeon tradition. They have not offered any alternative parameters for marriage. They’ve simply implied that the correct definition – the one accepted for millennia in Western civilization – is wrong.
Yet if these leftists cannot say what marriage is, how can they be so sure about what it isn’t? If they cannot offer a definition they’re certain is right, how can they be so confident that the right definition is wrong?
But the point is this: the court obviously doesn’t accept the definition of marriage embraced by most people worldwide today. If it did, it would have ruled as indicated earlier. Yet there also is no noted alternative definition by which to go. Thus, it seems that before the judges could rule on the right to this thing called marriage, they’d have to rule on what this thing is in the first place. So essentially they have ruled that there is a right to they know not what.
Of course, the judges certainly understand marriage to be some kind of legally sanctioned union between or among different parties. But his takes in a lot of territory. If this is all it is and everyone has a right to it, how can we deny it to polygamists (and their conception of marriage has infinitely more historical precedent than does faux marriage)? On what basis could we deny “marriage” to Billy and his billy goat or the Australian man who “married” his dog in 2010?
This is where some roll their eyes and say that these things will never happen. But while such scoffing is rhetorically effective, it’s not very intellectual. I’ll first point out that people in the 1950s would have likewise laughed off the notion that granting homosexuals the right to “marry” would be a major social and legal movement 50 years later. More significantly, however, ideas matter. The precedents we set matter. And when you undefine something, nothing is excluded. No boundaries mean no limits.
This is why the left’s actions do, in fact, threaten marriage. To fail to respect the institution’s time-honored definition and also refuse to offer any alternative definition is to seek to destroy the edifice without a plan for what will take its place. It is to imply that marriage can mean anything. And if something can mean anything, it means nothing.
As for conservatives, they have been suckered again. Without even realizing it, they have allowed the left to frame the debate – as a matter of rights – when it is first and foremost a matter of definitions. To argue it as a matter of rights is to lose the debate; to control the definitions can render that debate irrelevant.
This is why, mind you, I would not have written Prop. 8 as its framers did: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Instead, it should have been, “Marriage is hereby legally defined as a union between a man and a woman.” The actual text gives the courts wiggle room to find in favor of currently invalid or unrecognized “marriages”; the suggested text makes it so that there is nothing else to find in favor of. (Of course, ambitious judges can find a way around anything, but they’d have to do a bit more creative constitutional trampling.)
Yet controlling the definitions starts with controlling the vocabulary. For a definition won’t take hold in society unless the word it defines first does. This is why conservatives should never use the term “gay marriage,” as this is an explicit acknowledgement that such an institution exists. Nor should they use “heterosexual marriage,” for what is the other side of that coin?
What is most readily accepted is that which is assumed. From the get-go, conservatives should have insisted that marriage is marriage, a union between a man and woman and nothing else. This would have put odd alien fantasies about marriage, whatever they may be, in perspective. Because you cannot have a right to that which doesn’t exist.
If I had a pile of money that my dear wife knew nothing about, I might be tempted to create a very special ” T ” shirt that would be sent to every member of Congress. The message would read ( as have many others ) I’m With Stupid. My shirt will be different in that the usually placed arrow pointing side wise would instead be pointed straight up. Try as I might, I cannot imagine that any member of our Congress would wear the shirts. I guess they have no sense of humor .
Our Congress shows signs of remarkable mental impairment, loss of the ability to reason and a propensity to never face anything head on as have Americans over the years found it to be the best approach It seems that they are flat against doing anything that could possibly result in a positive solution to anything
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place; then stand firm” Abraham Lincoln.
As children, we were certainly not allowed to say one thing while sneakingly doing another as to do so would most certainly engage the anger of both parents and we would be punished for our lack of honesty and candor. On those occasions when we were correct, these same parents encouraged us to stand firmly in defense of these valid convictions. Not so on Capitol Hill where the art of stretching truths several yards beyond the breaking point is an art that has been used almost every day with the predictable result that none on that mound of government, Capitol Hill, can tell any of us where the real truths lie.
They do not know!
Their ability to digest facts with a rational mind-set must have been siphoned out of their now vacant skulls as comments reported in the media clearly indicate they are on a different pathway than that to which they pledged themselves before we voted for them. As most of the capitol inhales the same air, it must be that someone has found a way to inject powerful memory loss molecules in that air and in consideration of the wide-spread malaise, doctored air is a reasonable suspicion, else how could so many become so addlepated at the same time ? .
“A statesman, we are told, should follow public opinion. Doubtless, as a coachman follows the horses; having firm hold on the reins and guiding them” Augustus Hare
It is also clear that all need to elect those as our Congress who are able to stand for reasonable, logical and non-confrontational ways to resolve the issues facing this nation. What we see now is but one waffling exhibition after another or a series of asinine actions in the Senate denying any discussion of House actions that were voted upon with the hope they would provide the spark to jump-start our economy and provide incentives to further boost America’s productive engines as the will and needs of We The People clearly show. Through the smoke and haze coming from Washington. In a totally counter-productive manner, many vital issues have been shoved to the back burner,( maybe even off of the stove ) where our hopes will remain dashed until it is election time again and promises, long forgotten, are used as fuel to stoke the fires of citizen participation in that exercise we call voting.
We fall for this type of thing year after year. It is very clear that we merit the Congress we have because we voted for the wrong people for all of the wrong reasons. In the year 2012, that all must change !
“It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself” Thomas Jefferson
A beautiful example of the thoroughly gutless manner in which ” they ” represent us – Iran has told the world that it can ‘ hit ‘ America any time it wants. Our reaction…..I haven’t heard one except vaguely worded talks of doing something positive through international diplomacy which, at least in my lifetime, hasn’t been able to achieve any notable goals where it counts. .Next, Iran threatens to close the Gulf of Hormuz waterway – an important international trade route. The reaction in Congress- – – I don’t hear any, do you???.
As to the initial threat, our immediate action should have been a three word reply, “Bring it on!”
To address the threat to world shipping, the reaction could well have been a strongly worded statement that any Iranian ship observed planting mines in this international waterway will be blown out of the water. Any naval action of any type designed to affect this waterway will result in similar action. There is no need to mince words in either of these situations. America needs to take a stand that us clearly understood.
Can you let yourself imagine the reaction in Congress if our administration found its long-lost spine and issued firm statements as written above? They would probably mess their britches.
This is The United States of America. We Americans are a freedom loving people and we have shown the world that we are not going to tolerate incursions of any sort that threaten our freedoms or the freedoms of those nations with whom we are allied by custom or by treaty. Those in the rest of the world that think we have become weakened by financial happenings and deem it safe to threaten us, please be aware that Americans do not respond to threats except with heightened resolve. To threaten us is to unite us and as the world saw at the advent of World War II, an aroused America is a veritable dynamic power.
It might be useful for lots of people to read the history of this very young nation and after that, look at the accomplishments our freedoms have allowed – the myriad inventions growing from fertile and free American minds, the vast use of our resources to create medical treatments that, in just 100 years, have added measurably to the lifespan of millions of people throughout the world.. American freedoms have been the force behind the greatest creative minds this tired old world has seen since the days of the Creation. They might well view the events leading up to World War II and the result produced by the resolve and dedication shown by freedom loving Americans and their capable allies.
Never, never underestimate the power of the freedom loving American people. Never!
In the political arena, we might debate members of opposition parties until the proverbial cows come home but when this nation is threatened , we become as one – an America that doesn’t know the word, QUIT.
“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened” Billy Graham
Yesterday, the newest White House chief of staff, Jack Lew, took to the Sunday talk shows to get a head start on promoting President Barack Obama’s FY2013 budget, which is set to be released today. But just as he was getting warmed up, Lew ran smack into a brick wall when he was forced to defend the Democrat-controlled Senate’s failure to pass a budget in the last 1,019 days.
“You can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes, and you can’t get 60 votes without bipartisan support,” Lew said on CNN’s State of the Union. “So unless… unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, [Majority Leader] Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed.” Lew repeated the claim in a slightly different form on NBC’s Meet the Press, saying “One of the things about the United States Senate that I think the American people have realized is that it takes 60, not 50, votes to pass something.”
The trouble is, Lew is absolutely wrong.
The issue, though, is bigger than whether or not Lew twisted the truth about a procedural matter that probably escapes the interest of the vast majority of Americans. The issue is that President Obama and his allies in Congress continue to take a pass on governing by refusing to address one of the biggest issues of our time: a looming fiscal crisis that will leave Americans saddled with unacceptable levels of spending and debt.