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What’s relevant in marriage debate?

February 29, 2012
The Journal

To the editor:

The same-sex marriage debate has been clouded by irrelevant arguments from both sides.

Some opponents of same-sex marriage quote the Bible and expect that the words of Scripture should carry the same weight in society at large as they do in their own personal lives.

But the American government is not a theocracy. Our government was designed to function on the basis of rational thought and well-reasoned argument, apart from any appeal to divine authority. If the only reason that can be given for adopting a policy is that God said so, then that policy has no place in our government.

On the other side, zealots for same-sex marriage have ignored the true nature and purpose of marriage laws. If there is to be a rational discussion of this issue, it should begin there.

What is the purpose of marriage laws? Why does the government regulate marriage? And why have past marriage laws focused exclusively on opposite-sex unions?

The answer should be obvious. Government regulates opposite-sex unions for the same reason that an investor keeps a close watch on his portfolio. Just as an investor has a lot to lose if his investments lose value, so also the government has a lot to lose if opposite-sex unions do not do well.

The government heretofore has recognized that opposite-sex unions are unique. Opposite-sex unions do something that no other institution in society can do, namely, bring forth the next generation. A government would be foolish if it did not take a keen interest in this institution. A wise government will assist and encourage this institution in every way possible, thereby enabling parents to raise a new generation of responsible and productive citizens.

No government has ever had to be forced or persuaded to regulate opposite-sex unions. Governments of all types throughout history have recognized intuitively that it is in their own best interest to encourage strong opposite-sex unions and to mitigate the damage to society when those unions are disrupted or broken.

The advocates of same-sex marriage would like to convince us that there is nothing unique about traditional marriage, that the two arrangements are merely different versions of the same thing.

But reason tells us otherwise. Reason tells us that the future of our country depends on one and not the other. The stability of our society depends on the strength and stability of one and not the other. If one of the two were to disappear overnight, the country would not suffer in the least. And no one has to tell you which one is which. This says something about the unique importance of traditional marriage.

If our society is to prosper, the government must remain the guardian and protector of the traditional family. But if we the citizens surrender to political pressure and give our approval to same-sex marriage, we will have turned the state from being the guardian of traditional marriage to being its enemy. If that is allowed to happen, all of us will suffer the consequences.

Michael A. Thom

New Ulm



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