Those who seek to broaden the definition of “marriage” and “family” in order to secure for same-sex couples all the benefits that states confer on couples in a traditional marriages (between a man and a woman) are pursuing a course which will undermine marriage and which is geared to bring increased hardships and difficulties to children. Therefore, these efforts to redefine marriage should be defeated.
In October 2007, Maryland’s highest court (the Court of Appeals) upheld a state law stating that marriage in Maryland can only be between a man and a woman. Conaway v. Deane (2007). (See the November 2007 issue of CLU.) This ruling is in line with that of virtually every other state in the nation, except Massachusetts, in holding (1) that limiting marriage to heterosexual couples DOES NOT violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution; (2) that a rational basis exists for excluding same-sex couples from marriage; and (3) that there is no “fundamental right” under the Constitution to same-sex marriage. However, while this battle is now over, the war continues. The next battle front issue in the gays’ war to obtain special rights has moved to the Maryland State Legislature, where a handful of bills have been introduced that seek to have benefits conferred on gay couples through either establishing “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships,” or through broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex marriages. For states to pass such laws is certainly permissible, unless the Constitution should be amend-ed to provide otherwise. The key issue in this debate appears to be summed up by this line of thinking: If we can pass a law extending to gay couples some of the benefits of “marriage” without hurting the institution of marriage, then I will do it. I believe that the “If” clause in this statement is an impossibility, and that therefore the State should not broaden its definition of marriage to include same-sex unions.
There appear to be some undecided delegates on the Maryland House Judiciary Committee who are prepared to vote to preserve marriage, such that they would vote not to create “civil unions” nor “domestic partnerships” nor to broaden marriage to include same-sex couples IF they find evidence that extending marriage-like benefits to same-sex couples would have an adverse effect on families and children. But if they cannot find such a negative correlation, then they may vote to extend these additional rights to gay couples.
It is the purpose of this issue of CLU to articulate such an argument that can help this handful of legislators to see what the negative effects would be from extending these special rights to gay couples. There follows copies of two letters I submitted to the Judiciary Committee on February and March, which attempt to answer this important cause-effect inquiry. I offer them here because I believe they are helpful.
1. This issue is now before the California Supreme Court, which challenges Proposition 22 (passed by the people of California in 2000, making marriage only between a man and a woman. The case arose from the actions by the City of San Francisco, that licensed approximately 4,000 gay marriages in 2004.
2. A federal marriage amendment has been proposed that would establish a national standard. See CLU, May 2004.