As the battle for marriage heats up again in New York, so does the tired rhetoric. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stated that marriage redefinition is one of his top two priorities, and for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it’s priority number one.
While social re-engineering tops the agenda, New York’s unemployment rate lingers near 8 percent. The state faces a $315 million budget deficit, and a bleak economic forecast is forcing reductions in the state police force. New York’s tax policies are driving people and businesses away in droves, fewer than half of its students are leaving high school prepared for college or well-paying careers, and its poverty rate — the highest among all Northeastern states last year — tops the national average.
As for Mayor Bloomberg, his approval rating has tanked. Prescription drug abuse is rising at an alarming rate in his city, the citywide murder rate skyrocketed last year, and 41 percent of all pregnancies in the Big Apple are aborted — that’s more than twice the national average.
But these two officials admit that the central tenet of their agenda is to play games with the social fabric of society, which is consistent with Cuomo’s stated goal to “make sure New York State is the progressive capital of the nation once again.” (Leftists love to admonish their opponents for focusing on social issues, but it is they who wage the war.) They and other would-be marriage re-definers purport to be the champions of equality and freedom, destined to be on the “right side of history.” And every good “progressive” in New York knows the best way to fix problems with marriage is to add yet another deconstruction to the mix — just as they can fix problems with the economy and child obesity through a new soda tax.
But since they have beckoned us to history, a natural question arises: Why in all recorded history has the idea of redefining marriage never been championed by any political leader or movement until quite recently? Certainly, in some ancient cultures homosexual behavior was tolerated and in some instances even celebrated. But never did those cultures suggest they could redefine the fundamental understanding of what marriage was and is.
New York’s highest court recognized this when it rejected same-sex “marriage” as a constitutional right in 2006. The court’s opinion reflected the obvious, pointing out that “it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex.”
If such an “accepted truth” thought to promote the common good had been so ill conceived, so terribly misguided, and so wrong, how has it escaped for so long without any serious criticism? Does this recent epiphany of progress render completely false what was once a universal truth accepted by virtually every known society at all times?
Surely there must be some credible ancient and historical writings comparing same-sex relationships with opposite-sex relationships declaring that they are the same in every way for the purposes of marriage. Alas, there are not. But we do have a recent video by Gov. Cuomo.
What same-sex “marriage” stump speech would be complete without comparing marriage defenders to those who supported prohibitions on interracial marriage? Here, Cuomo’s video does not disappoint. After touting New York as the leader in all things noble, good, and progressive, the governor predictably invoked the false analogy of interracial marriage laws of the past. The only problem is that New York never had a prohibition on interracial marriage. In fact, unlike the universal understanding of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, restrictions on interracial marriage were anything but universal in this country or in the world for that matter.
With great emphasis, however, Cuomo proclaims erroneously that “at one time it was illegal for an interracial couple to marry in this country.” But as indicated above, and as tragic as it was, that was only true in some states. And in those states, it was generally whites who were prohibited from marrying non-whites. Blacks were free to marry any other race. Conclusion: these laws were invidious attempts to promote white supremacy and were at war with the historical purpose of marriage because they were specifically designed to keep certain opposite-sex couples apart for no good reason.
True marriage, on the other hand, is designed to bring men and women together — without regard to race. Preserving the integrity of marriage as an opposite-sex institution has no connection with the evils that form the basis of racism.
Marriage as we have always known it exists not only for a good reason but for a great reason. What is greater than a system designed to bring men and women together in the committed bonds of matrimony for the good of children who are wonderfully, naturally, and inevitably produced? One can always cite exceptions to the ideal or the failures of human beings to meet it, but the government’s job is to always promote, encourage, and endorse, as best as it can, the ideal for the good of the society it is called to serve. No reasoned understanding of equality, liberty, or privacy requires the deconstruction of marriage. With all of the misleading talk about “marriage equality,” it’s time we heard a little more about marriage integrity.
New York is faced with a monumental decision, the full consequences of which we cannot begin to predict. One thing is sure, however: if the politicians succeed with their “highest priority,” it will guarantee, by design, that more children will be raised without either a mother or a father. That may be a side of history that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg want to be on, but I and most other Americans do not.
Brian Raum is a New York attorney who has defended marriage in several state court cases and provided legal input to state legislators. He is senior counsel and head of marriage litigation for the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org).