Caleb Dalton

NOTE: This is the second column in a series of columns related to National Marriage Week, Feb. 7-14, 2013. The first is available here.

Not content with government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” some have brought their case for same-sex marriage to the courts and asked them to overturn the policy of states such as California—where the people voted to affirm man-woman marriage’s benefits to society, not just once, but twice in an eight-year span.

These advocates lean upon a constitutional interpretation that requires the fundamental redefinition of marriage in a manner, not only unknown in the record of human history until a few short years ago, but also in a way that does not provide the unique benefits that marriage has offered to society for millennia.

Marriage is the only institution that is essential to the future of humanity. Both men and women are necessary to propagate the human race—providing the economic base with which to further society. This is why marriage is society’s time-tested way to bless as many children as possible with both a mom and a dad in a stable environment. When children are deprived of mothers or fathers, not only do children suffer, society suffers as well.

Affirming marriage in our laws is not only reasonable, it is the right of the people. As we have from the beginning of our country, Americans can determine what unique relationships most benefit our society and celebrate the one we have cherished the most—marriage. By asking our courts to mandate a marriage policy for us all, marriage opponents are attempting to substitute their views, or the views of judges, for those of millions of Americans.

In 1776, John Hancock and 55 other brave souls pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to declare and establish that very idea: that government derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed”—that true freedom is only preserved by a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

In the last two decades, the consent of the governed has actively weighed in on marriage—an important policy issue debated through the democratic process. They have considered whether to affirm the timeless and universal societal benefits provided by marriage between a man and a woman, or whether to place the label of marriage on other relationships.

In other words, Americans have been engaged in that most American of activities—voting. While the public square is by no means a perfect solution for all of our societal issues, it is working within the realm of marriage. Americans are vigorously engaged in debating and understanding the meaning of marriage, and the legislative actions in almost every state confirm this.

While the obvious role of our courts is to address legitimate constitutional issues, whether marriage should be redefined to include relationships that cannot offer the same societal benefits as relationships between a man and a woman is not one of them. No other relationship joins together the two opposite halves of humanity into an enduring, procreative union for the benefit of all of society. And, while not every couple has a child, every child has a mother and a father.

This is why the Supreme Court has characterized marriage as “fundamental to our existence and survival.” And because marriage is so unique, no other relationships qualify as “similarly situated” to the uniting of a man and a woman, and thus no other relationships trigger “equal protection” analysis under the Constitution.

As recent history has shown, marriage has truly become a vital matter “of the people, by the people, [and] for the people.” Let us not, then, usurp the dynamic development of democratic debates with pleas for a judicial directive.


Caleb Dalton

Caleb Dalton is litigation counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that has defended marriage and religious liberty in courts throughout the U.S.