As a Texan, I grew up hearing about the legend of a fellow attorney, William Travis, who, when surrounded in the Alamo by Santa Anna’s army, drew his sword, traced a line in the sand, and invited all who were ready to give the ultimate price for their cause to step across the line. Of 183 men with him, all but one crossed the line.
In a vivid illustration of “the pen is mightier than the sword,” a record number of friend-of-the-court briefs (formally known as amicus briefs) were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the last two months, penning a line in the sand on the marriage debate that has especially grabbed America’s attention this week as the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments.
More than 58 briefs filed in support of California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act persuasively affirm three core truths: 1) marriage between a man and woman offers society unique benefits conferred by no other relationship; 2) every child deserves to have the chance to be raised by their biological mother and father, and 3) because men and women are biologically, socially, and functionally unique, the current marriage dispute is a policy issue, not a constitutional question, and the Supreme Court should resist demands to prematurely end the democratic debate by declaring a political winner and unilaterally redefining marriage for everyone.
Opposing briefs were also filed, arguing that children do not need a mother and father, that society has no rational basis for supporting the only marital relationship that provides children a mother and a father, and that the high court should redefine the marriage laws of all 41 states that currently affirm marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Indeed, the line has been drawn: in essence, marriage supporters argue that society has the strongest interest in promoting the only relationship that creates life and the optimum opportunity to raise children in a stable home. Those who want the Supreme Court to redefine marriage strain the meaning of a constitutional amendment enacted in 1868 to argue that it compels society to affirm any two adults’ love for each other so that they can obtain social approval of their sexual relationship; the welfare of children is a subordinate concern.