Barely eight years ago, 76 percent of Texas voters affirmed by constitutional amendment their commitment to heterosexual marriage as the proper relational norm. But, hey, so what, when a federal judge informs Texans that “[S]tate-imposed inequality can find no refuge in the United States Constitution”? Accordingly, Texas joins the melancholy parade of Southern states—Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma are in the front ranks—instructed by federal judges as to the impermissibility of banning the novel practice of same-sex marriage.
My, we’re a bunch of bums, we conservatives – blocking the upward road to personal fulfillment, as laid out only in recent years by gay rights campaigners heavily concentrated in the Democratic party. Among whom a legal theme is developing. As the Clinton-appointed judge hearing the Texas case put it, “inequality” may not be imposed on citizens in the absence of “a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose.” In other words, the state has no business preferring heterosexual relationships to the homosexual or lesbian kind.
What does Judge Orlando L. Garcia bring to the table, constitutionally speaking, besides a capacity for begging one of the central questions of life? Not much. Defenders of traditional marriage must, nevertheless, take him, and his likeminded colleagues, seriously enough to batter back at the conjecture that any old arrangement of marriage partners is fine if it makes the partners happy.
Heterosexual marriage is an institution embedded in the social and moral order, hence in the constitutional fabric. The presumption of a federal judge in saying otherwise would be eye-popping but for the inability of eyes to pop any longer at the sight of judicial presumption.
No “rational” reason for preferring heterosexual marriage? The stability of society might seem to some a “rational” reason for such a preference. A man and a woman are fitted by nature—must I go into detail?—for the intimacy and support essential to a lasting human relationship; and for the production and nurture of children.
Oh, big deal!, gay marriage apostles riposte. What’s wrong with the use of human orifices for purposes supplemental, shall we say, to those for which they were designed? The AIDS epidemic suggests one answer, but, then, that’s taken care of, right? Federal judges, on their own scientific authority, appear to think nothing in nature forbids, or even throws doubt on, same-gender relationships.
More serious and worrisome is the kid question. Gay couples can’t propagate. By definition. What they can do is farm out the job to others, via adoption or womb-rental. Two things are amiss here: 1) the parasitic nature of the practice—making heteros do the heavy lifting; and 2) the capacity that necessarily exists in same-sex child-rearing for the sowing of confusion as to sexual identity. What am I anyway?, a child raised by a same-sex couple will inevitably ask at some point. And how do I feel about the other sex? Are there indeed, two sexes? What if (for all practical purposes) there’s really just one?
Carry it a little further: Where does a boy raised by two women learn maleness? Where does a girl raised by two men find her mother? Or have such questions become trivial, not to mention sexist, in our perplexed and perplexing times?
Gay marriage distorts ancient understandings endorsed by infinitely smarter folk than Judge Orlando Garcia. No “rational” cause for standing by the moral prescriptions of civilization? That’s for jurists and activists who wouldn’t know a moral prescription from a federal injunction.
William Murchison is a corresponding editor of Chronicles and the author of The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson (ISI) and Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. William Murchison, syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on religious, cultural, and political affairs, has contributed to many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and First Things.