The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court judges, in Hillary Goodridge and others vs. Department of Public Health and another, displayed their own massive ignorance about marriage, its history and its public purposes. Four people claim that "the government creates marriage." There is no rational reason, they claim, for the state legislature to require that for a marriage you need a husband and a wife, who can become a mother and a father for their children.
Why have marriage at all? Listen to the court's reasoning: "Civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over transient ones. It is central to the way the Commonwealth identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, insures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data."
The reason we have marriage is to save on welfare? Track important epidemiological and demographic data?
And oh, by the way, there is no great reason to have a state legislature, either, since the justices believe they have the right not only to strike down laws they consider unconstitutional, but to order elected officials to pass new laws to their liking. The form of democracy is maintained, but it is drained of its substance.
Why did they do this? So they can be heroes to their friends at cocktail parties? So they can feel historic and powerful? The most striking thing about this decision to me is the complete absence of any sense of risk.
Marriage today is in crisis, a crisis that revolves precisely around the core values swatted down like so many inconsequential flies by the good juris doctors. Do children need mothers and fathers, and do adults have a responsibility to conduct their intimate lives so that children get what they need?
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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