I confess to barking, infuriated, at my car radio the other morning — and my wife’s, properly, chiding me gently over it. This all happened just before we stepped into a local eatery for breakfast — probably not the best prescription for avoiding indigestion, I know, but what can I say? Sometimes Glenn Beck really bugs me.
For, sure enough, the hugely influential talk-radio/media presence had just embarked on what have become his intermittent, but feckless and occasionally insufferably sanctimonious, tutorials on why “the government should have nothing to do with marriage” — no licensing, no acknowledging or defining; leave those bits to private individuals and churches.
I understand this bit of blatherous Libertarian orthodoxy, often delivered in patronizing, why-can’t-everybody-be-as-sophisticated-as-I-am tones, is designed to make limited — or even anti — government types go all weak at the knees. But it actually ought to aggravate Constitutional conservatives who have an appreciation for America’s founding principles and the foresightful giants who formulated them.
The proposition that Washington, Jefferson, Madison and their peers would have caviled at some branches of the State — whether federal or more local — tipping their hats respectfully at what has been a crucial bedrock of robust, civilized societies since, well, forever? Flatly preposterous.
A little familiarity with the historic record makes evident our Republic’s revolutionary eminences weren’t fans of sodomy. They were, alternatively, vocal hearth-and-home enthusiasts, prizing the institution of marriage and family. Those who fought for and built these early United States, in other words, were men of what has become a rarefied but unabashed common sense.
Leveraging the non-coercive influence of official policy to endorse child-bearing, child-rearing, family-building, nation-fortifying husband/wife matrimony? It’s ludicrous to imply our founding luminaries would have objected in any way to such a prospect.
I recognize there’s a “Federalism” matter involved in this debate: traditionally, the individual states, not Washington, codify marital law. Fair enough — let ’em at it. (Although I’d heartily support a Constitutional amendment clarifying where the national government can rule on marriage concerns).Where regional voters have weighed in on the question, overwhelmingly they’ve validated real marriage — y’know, the one- man/one-woman type . It’s impudent courts, lately, which have overthrown those results and imposed phony (“same-sex”) nuptials across the land .
And yes, opposition to mainstreaming homosexual couplings has a conspicuous and eminently honorable “religious” component to it. Neither would that have posed a nettle for our founding generation, because they were flagrantly comfortable with “religious”, even “Christian”, sentiments playing a society-molding role. Exhibits A through Z: from America’s earliest days, presidents, justices and elected officials of all sorts, publicly, forthrightly and in their official capacity have done things like pray, invoke God’s name, reference the Scriptures, pointedly address issues of morality and virtue. Bringing general spiritual principles to bear on societal issues brought them no dyspepsia.
This, for instance, came across my desk just now: “A State, I cheerfully admit, is the noblest work of Man: But Man, himself, free and honest, is, I speak as to this world, the noblest work of God.” — James Wilson, Declaration of Independence signatory, drafter of the Constitution, and Associate Supreme Court Justice appointed by President George Washington; from his opinion regarding 1793’s Chisholm v. Georgia.
Wha-a-att?!?! An allusion to the Creator of the Universe? Presumably the Christian version of same, since Wilson was an Episcopalian /Presbyterian? In a Justice’s formal commentary on a case before him?
Can someone teleport Mikey Weinstein back in time to slap that Bible-spouting fanatic? Stat?
What incontestably would scandalize these 18th-century luminaries would be the egregious situation in which we find ourselves two-hundred-plus years removed from them: a millenia-proven moral order and the mores of hundreds of millions of citizens unhorsed by a tiny, spiteful, psychically-wounded minority intent on hijacking, for their own selfishly narrow purposes, one of humankind’s most sacrosanct relationships.
It’s become a dependably shameful spectacle: otherwise thoughtful, even courageous, public figures bending over — sorry — for the petulant demands of the Lavender Mafia. The beratings are as wearisome as they are predictable: You WILL give us “marriage”! You WILL grant us “adoption rights” You WILL lionize our lifestyle in your churches, schools, in every part of popular culture. Then those leaders who ought to know better, preferring cozy appeasement and glurgey “tolerance” to disruptive conflict, shrug their shoulders obsequiously, look nervously away, perhaps even sign-up outright for the gay-is-great crusade.
Glen Beck’s passion for his “all-government-barred-from-marriage” hokum is, I fear, motivated in part by this dynamic. Whenever homosexual topics surface in his commentary, an unmistakable skittishness arises on his part, as well. The emphasis abruptly becomes how many “gay” friends he has, how many “gay” employees he’s hired, how he’s reliably gone to bat for their “rights” in the past, etc. If his Mormonism or oft-professed devotion to the Bible inclines him at all to disapprove of sexual perversion, let alone “same-sex marriage”, it’s anything but transparent.
To my fellow LIbertarian-leaning Americans, consider this: Washington, DC recruits individuals to serve in our military. As compensation for these volunteers’ standing in our nation’s potentially life-endangering first-line of defense, Uncle Sam guarantees them a remunerative package — including assorted spousal and child benefits.
Are the Federal powers-that-be warranted in specifying precisely who qualifies as a “spouse”, “child”? Taking the hint from many thousands of years of clear-eyed observation, biological verities, the revered convictions of the world’s major religions, reams of contemporary sociological studies and, bluntly, the reflexive repugnance most people feel when contemplating same-sex canoodling, are they allowed to factor in the beyond-obvious conclusion? To wit: allowing for the nasty reality of our world’s imperfections, the man/woman/child/for-life structure of marriage remains the optimal one, the preferable one, and thus the one they’d like to encourage via public policy.
1996’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ratified by formidable Republican and Democratic lawmaking majorities, even backed by then-President Bill Clinton, affirmed — with unimpeachable reasonableness — it was within the Federal government’s jurisdiction to delineate marriage, for federal purposes, as the union of one XX partner with one XY partner. Tax law, federal regulations and terminology, the general government’s overall attitude would validate the husband/wife conjugal blueprint.
A gay-smitten Supreme Court indefensibly shot down DOMA in 2013.
Genuine, natural marriage, however, persists a demonstrable good, both Heaven-certified and gloriously, pragmatically beneficial for human beings, personally and collectively. Responsible governments, thus, will insist on standing up for it. That rationale for such on-the-record recognition abides even today.
Some, safe to say, will continue carping to the contrary — Glenn Beck shamefully among them. We don’t have to yell at our radios about it; but we must keep reminding them they’re wrong.