Advocates of legalizing same sex-marriage in Maine usually argue it is a “civil rights” issue, because they know that no one wants to be thought of as opposing the rights of others.
It is obvious that neither the United States nor our state constitutions say anything about an individual’s right to their own definition of marriage. Their texts just can’t be stretched that far.
The fact is, however, no one has any “right” to marry. Repeatedly asserting there is does not create one. Societies have always regulated who could marry. Brothers and sisters cannot legally marry, for example, nor can anyone marry someone underage or marry multiple people.
The courts have indeed recognized that there are rights that are protected, even if they are not specifically mentioned in the constitution. But the reason is that these important rights are rooted in the history and tradition of our nation; it would be unthinkable not to protect them.
By contrast, claiming there is a “right” to same-sex marriage is entirely novel. As New York’s highest court noted in upholding that state’s traditional definition of marriage, the idea of same-sex marriage was utterly alien until a very, very short time ago. No one can reasonably argue the framers of our constitution intended it would ever be understood to require the recognition of homosexual marriage.
Those arguing for same-sex marriage often also try to compare it to laws banning inter-racial marriage. There is no comparison. The court decisions overturning these odious laws made clear that the institution of marriage shouldn’t be hijacked to advance other objectives, in this case the rightly discredited idea that one race was superior to others. Marriage was only one tool.
Marriage clearly has nothing to do with race. It is mostly about children and the social benefits that flow from encouraging men and women to take on the critical roles of mother and father that children need to thrive. Certainly, we should treat all people with dignity and respect, but we must not sacrifice the critical social institution of marriage to do this.
There is another even more troubling aspect of this false “civil rights” argument: the idea that everyone who disagrees must be a bigot. This just doesn’t make sense either. President Barack Obama, hardly a bigot and certainly an undisputed champion of true civil rights, said in 2004: “…I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”
Unlike the governor and a majority of the legislature, we are confident that most Mainers understand how important it is to keep the definition of marriage as the union of a husband and wife, because it is society’s best way to preserve the opportunity of children to know and be raised by their own mother and father. These Mainers who understand this are not in the least like those who believe in the reprehensible idea that some races are superior to others.
The civil rights argument is nothing more than a slogan without substance. It is, in fact, deeply disrespectful of those who have been denied their true civil rights, like the right to vote or to practice their religious faith. Now that it looks like the people’s veto will be on the November ballot, the Stand For Marriage Maine Coalition will be working hard to educate Mainers on what the real issues are relating to whether we legalize homosexual marriage.
And whether it is a “civil right” clearly is not one of them.
Marc R. Mutty is executive chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine. E-mail: