By Joseph Delli Gatti
Until recently, marriage as a concept has slowly been eroded, and has become less and less defined by the general public. This was recognized by various public entities, including the LDS church. In an attempt to re-inform its own members and to re-assert it to world what marriage means, the LDS church leaders created a document entitled The Family: A Proclamation To The World (viewable at http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,FF.html).
Because marriage promotes the continuation and advancement of human life in society, the US government and other societal governing bodies around the world have recognized marriage through marriage documentation and have sought to support it through tax breaks and subsidies.
Although homosexuals might like to make the current marriage issue into an issue of equal rights and discrimination, it’s not. This issue is really about preserving a protected class – the married class. Other protected classes found in the US are based on such things as age, handicap, sex, race, and even sexual orientation in some states. These classes are protected through various measures of the government.
For instance, handicapped people get the front parking spots at virtually every commercial location in the US, ramps and other accommodations for wheelchairs, brail writing in public buildings and in elevators, certain subsidies from the government, etc. These measures are put into place, not to give physically impaired people an unfair advantage over everyone else or to discriminate against everyone else, but are to allow these people the opportunity to adequately function in society. It’s to help them to be at less of a disadvantage.
The NAACP is an organization put into place to ensure that people of color and other racial minorities are not disadvantaged in society. Regardless of what some might think, the NAACP does not exist to ensure more rights to people of color over everybody else. It’s stated purpose is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” As a white person, the NAACP does not serve me or my race. In fact, it discriminates against whites and caters most specifically to minorities.
Imagine the NAACP fighting to ensure white-specific scholarships and providing legal representation for white people in the same cases as blacks. It would become a pointless institution that no longer served its intended purpose – which would actually, in effect, hurt the class it was organized to protect. Not everyone agrees in every instance with the NAACP, but it does serve a noble purpose.
Consider what would happen if we redefined “handicapped” as anyone who wanted to participate in the definition, gave them all handicap stickers for their cars, and let them park in the handicapped spots so as to not discriminate. Now anyone could qualify as handicapped, nullifying the purpose for having those parking spaces up front in the first place. Truly handicapped people would have a tough time finding parking spaces and would again be at a disadvantage. Hence, we have discriminatory laws to protect certain classes of people. We give additional assistance to these classes and write laws to help keep them on equal footing with the mainstream population.
Marriage is a protected class as well. The government recognizes that marriage provides a unique service to society. In a typical marriage, a man and a woman pledge to join together in an exclusive relationship, not solely as an expression of love, but to serve a greater purpose together. This greater purpose is to create children together and to support each other in raising those children to adulthood.
A marriage provides a unique environment and foundation to children: it teaches them certain relationship and organizational skills and serves as an example for their own future marriages. Marriage benefits not just children, but the government and society as a whole because of marriage’s unique core purpose. So, it is subsidized through tax benefits by the government, and finds high status in society.
Some marriage situations do not perfectly serve the core purpose of marriage. In some instances, straight couples are not able to physically produce children; however,these couples can adopt children and provide the same environment and example to those children in the same way that natural parents can provide. So, these types of marriages should still be encouraged.
Some marriages are less than acceptable. In some cases, spouses abuse one another or abuse their children and provide bad examples to their children. In these situations, the couples are not forced to divorce, but do have the children removed from their home – especially when the children are neglected or abused. This not only seeks to reduce the trauma to the children, but also to eliminate from the child’s life the negative influence and bad examples of the parents.
Some people qualify for marriage on paper, but not in spirit or deed. The fact that some people abuse the system and take unfair advantage of tax payers and the government does not provide a good excuse to allow gays to participate in marriage. If anything, marriage should be further restricted to prevent this type of abuse from happening.
Some people marry with no intention of ever having children. While this is not the ideal situation for marriage, these people will often change their minds or eventually end the marriage so that one spouse can move on to a more productive relationship. These marriages also often result in the accidental production of children and provide the same possibilities as marriages of people who can’t create children. These aren’t ideal marriages, but are acceptable based on their potential.
Other benefits of marriage include protection from STDs, often some form of power of attorney, the piece of mind that a contractual relationship can provide, possible tax benefits, and higher societal status. These are not primary reasons for marriage though – these are simply side benefits that occur in the accomplishment of marriage’s core objective. Some of these associated benefits can be achieved or synthesized without a true marriage.
Some of the reasons I have heard from homosexuals about why they desire to be married include the desire for high status. The high status associated from marriage comes from the long-term dedication and from engaging in the difficult task of creating and rearing children.
Another reason expressed by gays is to share love for, sexual relations with, and dedication for a loved one. This is understandable but doesn’t require the enforcement of a marriage contract or a legal obligation.
To combine assets is another reason expressed. People may currently combine assets through many various types of legal contracts for any reason desired.
Another reason is for hospital-visitation rights and for power of attorney. Anyone can assign power-of-attorney to anybody they desire, regardless of sexual preference – it’s not exclusive to marriage.
Marriage provides tax breaks and subsidies by the government. These efforts by the government have been put in place to promote marriage’s unique contribution to society and to compensate for the disadvantages and hardships associated with child-rearing. In providing the same governmental “benefits” to homosexual couples (who cannot provide in the same way to society), it would in effect be like handing out handicap stickers to everyone who desires to participate in being handicapped.
Marriage, like many classes, needs the protection and benefits that only a new law can now secure.
While love, dedication to another person, tax benefits and subsidies, and exclusivity in sexual relations are all beneficial aspects of marriage, they have been put into place to promote and assist in the core purpose of marriage – a duty and responsibility of heterosexual couples to join together to create and rear children.
While marriage is an institution designed specifically for heterosexual couples and needs to be protected as such, equal opportunity in the workplace, in hospitals, in the community, and in situations dealing with basic human rights needs to be afforded to all people living in our country – including homosexuals. While I am morally and religiously against homosexual sexual activity, I am not for unduly oppressing anybody in society. Homosexual people justifiably feel the oppression and discrimination in many situations. Issues of oppression need to be adressed and dealt with – however, not at the expense of attacking marriage. My marriage and family needs and deserves protection that Proposition 8 provides.
I hope this helps people to better understand why I support moves like Proposition 8. If you agree, feel free to pass on this article.