This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases where petitioners sought to change the dictionary definition of marriage.
The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenges California’s Proposition 8, which in 2008 was democratically approved by voters to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage into the state’s ever-changing constitution. The second, United States v. Windsor, was a challenge to the law President Bill Clinton signed in 1996, which prohibits homosexual couples from sharing federal marriage benefits while preventing states which support gay marriage from forcing it on others.
During the discussion, Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg compared this issue to dairy products. Speaking to former U.S. Solicitor Paul Clement, she opined that the U.S. House’s legal position is there “are two kinds of marriage; the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage.” Her sarcasm was quickly picked up by her advocates in the Mainstream Media.
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But unlike too much in our society, marriage cannot be reduced to a simple commodity. Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. It is a relationship defined by the order of creation, protected by a natural law, which binds woman and man. And it is nature, not the halls of some politically motivated elected official or government bureaucracy, which creates marriage.
As a man of faith, I believe we mere mortals have just about as much right to redefine marriage as the composition of water. And as a legal matter, actual marriage predates politics and common law itself. Just like community organizations and religious institutions, the state has a legitimate interest in protecting and advancing marriage in hopes of encouraging stable families.
Citizens United will always stand with traditional marriage advocates. My organization knows that a stable marriage, with a husband and a wife, is incalculably more important to the development of children than milk.