Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

What Is Marriage? the Joining of Man and Woman for the Purpose of Renewing the Human Race Predates Government

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

What Is Marriage? the Joining of Man and Woman for the Purpose of Renewing the Human Race Predates Government

Article excerpt

This is a significant moment in our public conversation on marriage. By ruling a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and choosing not to rule on the question of same- sex marriage in California, the Supreme Court essentially declared that the federal government may not set parameters for the definition of marriage but, instead, must leave that power to the states.

This means that the important debate about the meaning of marriage is destined to continue. Some have framed this debate in terms of "equality." That rings with a certain American appeal. Everyone wants to be treated equally, with the love and respect due all people. But focusing on "marriage equality" gets the question wrong. Equality requires treating like cases alike. We need to determine whether we have "like cases" at all. If we want to address the principle of equality correctly, we need to get to the truth of marriage first.

Arguing that the law, for equality's sake, should recognize two men or two women as "married" presumes that these pairs are the same as one man and one woman and that marriage is simply a committed relationship of any adults. All of this raises the question: What is the nature of marriage?

Marriage is the word used in many translations across human history to signify the permanent, faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman. It is the only institution that brings a man and a woman together in a partnership for life directed toward their mutual support and the generation and education of children. This is a human community that predates government. Its meaning is something to be recognized and protected, not reconstructed. Its simplicity is compelling. Its significance, both personal and public, is immeasurable. What promise between two people holds the same weight and consequence as that of a man and a woman who give themselves to each other for life with a view toward creating new life so that humanity might continue? …

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