New Jersey Ruling Ignores Primary Rationale for Protecting Marriage

Posted: Oct 27, 2006 2:39 PM

In handing "committed" same-sex couples the full range of benefits available to married couples, the New Jersey Supreme Court has not only invited the state legislature to redefine "marriage" as … well, pretty much anything – it has also shown a deplorable lack of concern for the future of its youngest citizens.

Those pressing for the legalization of same-sex marriage built a lot of their case on the notion that people in love have a right to get married, whatever their gender, and that the government has an obligation to protect and enforce that right.

In fact, the government has only one obligation, when it comes to marriage, and as recently held by three major courts – the New York Court of Appeals (in Hernandez v. Robles), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit (in Nebraska’s Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning), and the Washington Supreme Court (in Andersen v. King County) – it's about what’s best for children.

In New York, the high court pitched responsibility for deciding the "marriage" question to the state legislature, but not before underscoring the validity of the belief that the only interest government has in the loving relationship between two individuals stems from the likelihood of that relationship producing children. We expect married couples to procreate – and in the result of that procreation lies the future of the state.

Clearly, the state has a vested interested in providing the best possible environment for these future citizens and tax-payers, and the New York judges – like those at the 8th Circuit and the Washington Supreme Court – were persuaded that the ideal arrangement for children is a stable, loving, two-parent, two-gender family.

It is entirely possible, the New York court said, that rational, unbigoted legislation, backed by "intuition," "experience," and "common sense," could find "that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father."

The 8th Circuit followed the same reasoning, finding no evidence of a federal right to same-sex "marriage" when the purpose "of traditional marriage laws (is) to encourage heterosexual couples to bear and raise children in committed marriage relationships."

That being the case, the court said, Nebraska’s laws "limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States."

Two weeks later, after more than a year of deliberations, Washington's high court came down on exactly the same track, declaring that the state's Defense of Marriage Act "is constitutional because the legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children's biological parents. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not, in the legislature's view, further these purposes."

Three major courts, all saying the same thing: the government's interest in marriage is tied inseparably to its interest in children. The primary reason for licensing marriage is to ensure the best possible environment for raising healthy children.

True, no study yet exists comparing children raised from birth to adulthood by two men or two women with those raised by their own biological parents. But we do have the clear, eloquent evidence of nature itself. If two dads were the ideal for raising a child … two dads would be able to produce a child. If two moms were the ideal … two moms would be able to impregnate each other.

Yes, heterosexual couples also adopt or artificially inseminate or use a surrogate parent. But those options are still, statistically, an aberration. It is the design of nature that children are entrusted to parents of opposite sexes. The mix has not only a decisive genetic impact on the child, but a profoundly psychological one, as well.

The jurists in these recent cases have wisely affirmed the obligation of the state to facilitate that natural impact by sanctioning marriage. But in New Jersey, those pushing the same-sex agenda have successfully argued that the state’s first obligation is to underwrite the romantic inclinations of its adults, rather than protect its children.

It is a perfectly politically-correct decision. But it is not one that those who truly care about children – and indeed, the same-sex couples themselves – can applaud.