Thoughts on the Pennsylvania Marriage Decision

“We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them on the ash heap of history.”Judge John E. Jones III, upon overturning the Defense of Marriage law in Pennsylvania.

Right off hand, this statement seems reasonable. But it is when we actually step back and consider what is being said that we can see the problem with what is being said.

1-It makes a powerfully false assumption about people.
There is something reflected in a law, whether it is morally right or not, that makes a statement about the nature of persons. It assumes that people are basically good at their basest instincts. On the contrary, when you watch society, especially those societies which have moved away from the truth of God, people quickly become vicious and selfish. I have seen this is the generation which is succeeding mine. If they manage to make it out of their twenties, which so few of seem to be given the suicide rates for people who are just 10 years and younger than the 37 year old writing this but not counting the number sacrificed on the altar of abortion, an entire generation of Americans is being erased by our culture. The essential evidence of this I wrote about in an earlier post this week. But this statement, from two weeks ago has stuck in my mind with its assumption.

2. It makes a false assumption about the nature of laws.
Laws reflect culture: what we accept and what we despise. While we are willing to accept that some people are morally weak in certain areas, we often refuse, as a society, to enable or condone certain behaviors. For generations, certain sexual behaviors were dealt with criminally. Adultery, pre-marital sex, prostitution, even homosexual conduct was dealt with, sometimes severely, under the laws of the states. Why was that? It was that the essential building block of a community, the family and how it was constructed, that was desired by communities. Families constructed of dedicated, monogamous heterosexuals produce the next generation naturally, and communities were willing to openly punish anyone who dared to violate the sacred bond of marriage and what those engaging in it hope to produce. These facts make us uncomfortable because of our selfish desires that we really enjoy indulging.

3) It falsely assumes that permitting something makes us better.
This is drawn by a false comparison to the repeals of laws that, at one time, forbid inter-racial marriage. Why is this a false assumption? What is the difference between two men of a different color? Nothing, both are men. Now, what is the difference between a same-sex couple and a heterosexual couple? Everything. By nature, a same-sex couple cannot produce the next generation, all that they can do is “play” house. We did away with laws forbidding inter-racial marriage because they were against nature. They enforced a standard based on the subjective standard of skin color. Laws forbidding same-sex marriage do so on the basis of the objective standard that they, by nature have nothing to offer society in the means of extending it.

Judge Jones, if we were truly better that the laws we had, you would be on the ash heap of history, because we would not need you.


  1. “This is drawn by a false comparison to the repeals of laws that, at one time, forbid inter-racial marriage.”
    Right! Those who would redefine marriage are always drawing that comparison, but it’s totally inapt. The laws against intermarriage that the Supreme Court struck down in _Loving vs. Virginia_ are nothing like the laws that define marriage as a union of a man and a woman—first, because laws against intermarriage are nothing like as culturally universal across times and places as the absence of such a thing as “same-sex marriage”, and second, because (and the other side never seems to grasp this) even the proponents of those laws against intermarriage never denied that such a marriage was within the definition of “marriage”.
    To the first point, Mark Steyn puts it well:
    “If the Right’s case has been disfigured by delusion, the Left’s has been marked by a pitiful parochialism. At the Supreme Court this week, Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, was one of many to invoke comparisons with Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. But such laws were never more than a localized American perversion of marriage. In almost all other common-law jurisdictions, from the British West Indies to Australia, there was no such prohibition. Indeed, under the Raj, it’s estimated that one in three British men in the Indian subcontinent took a local wife. ‘Miscegenation’ is a 19th-century American neologism. When the Supreme Court struck down laws on interracial marriage, it was not embarking on a wild unprecedented experiment but merely restoring the United States to the community of civilized nations within its own legal tradition.”
    As Steyn points out elsewhere ( ), Justice Kennedy himself—not one of the most conservative members of the court—alluded to this history during oral arguments, concluding, of Mr. Olson’s argument, “so that’s not
    accurate” ( , page 49, lines 9-19).
    The second reason that the interracial-marriage parallel fails may be subtler, but is arguably even more significant: It’s essentially different. When Jim Crow states banned interracial marriage, they understood themselves to be _banning_ it—in other words, everyone on all sides understood that it was possible for a man of one color to marry a woman of another color; no one thought that this would not qualify, by definition, as marriage. Those who passed these laws understood themselves to be trying to stop something that was otherwise very possible. Here are sections from the Virginia statute that the Supreme Court struck down when it declared laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional (the beautifully named _Loving vs. Virginia_, 1967):
    “Section 257 of the Virginia Code provides:
    “Marriages void without decree. — All marriages between a white person and a colored person shall be absolutely void without any decree of divorce or other legal process.
    “Va.Code Ann. § 20-57 (1960 Repl. Vol.).”
    “Section 20-54 of the Virginia Code provides:
    “Intermarriage prohibited; meaning of term ‘white persons.’ — It shall hereafter be unlawful for any white person in this State to marry any save a white person, or a person with no other admixture of blood than white and American Indian. . . . All laws heretofore passed and now in effect regarding the intermarriage of white and colored persons shall apply to marriages prohibited by this chapter.
    “Va.Code Ann. § 20-54 (1960 Repl. Vol.).”

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