Category archives: Marriage

Is the roof falling in?

by Pat Fagan

August 13, 2014

Last Saturday in the Wall Street Journal I read about the dilemma of the European welfare state: its low fertility cannot sustain the welfare state and its anemic economy cannot offer jobs to young millennials. Yesterday, I read Fred Andrews’s New York Times review of Carbone and Cahn’s “Marriage Markets,” an unhappy recounting of the unappealing economics of marriage for all but the upper class. Last night, I started reading Mitch Perlstein’s wonderfully written book, “From Family Collapse to America’s Decline.” This morning I read Mark Regnerus’s latest analysis from his massively expanded survey, on the significant splitting in the nation regarding what is seen good and acceptable in sexual and family matters. Every author each in his own way sees the drift tending in the wrong direction away from marriage.

Regnerus has a wonderfully enlightening interpretation in his video graphic on the economics of sex. The price of sex has lowered. Before the pill it used to cost a guy his life, now just a date or two. By and large he (and she) can get away with it as never before but the price is being exacted in declining education, productivity and employability and stagnant near-poverty for more and more. This sets the next generation up for still further decline.

Charles Murray says we are Coming Apart and recently retired professor of political philosophy, Fr. James Schall of Georgetown, says we, as a polity, already are that nasty mix described by Aristotle: the classical combination of tyranny and democracy.

All this could be pretty depressing especially when the bottom line is that our civilization is clearly in deep trouble. Though Christianity gave us the traditional family based on monogamous fidelity of spouses and their dedication to their children as more and more Christians give up on their own moral code (see Regnerus analysis) nothing else is left — for no else has a better template.

However a ray of hope exists within recent writings: increasingly more and more see that how the sexual is negotiated is at the center of this decline. Even economists (some of them at least) are gradually beginning to see the connection between marriage and the economy.

The solution lies in the regrowth from within the collapse that is underway — among those who hold to “the template that works.” Though Christians in the Middle East may die of martyrdom Christians in the US will have their own heavy price to pay, first in the natural price of good family life and then in the extra costs, not least the extra taxes, to pay for the dysfunctions of a broken America. Though the price is high, the options are clear: live a life of meaning and love or live a life in pursuit of pleasure and things, but devoid of people. For those who reflect on it, it is a “no-brainer”.

Why do it: for the love that it all will take. For it is only love will conquer the tyranny built on the sexual gone wrong. Every wronged spouse knows that. Every former porn addict knows that. America will learn it all over again … but only from those who love. Though we will always need our brave military soldiers, a new type of soldier is emerging: the one pledged to chaste love. How medieval. Maybe history is about to repeat itself.

Which Empowers The Most?

by Pat Fagan

August 5, 2014

At MARRI we are preparing a major synthesis paper on the effects of contraception, which has caused much discussion and  has also led to thinking a lot about natural family planning (NFP). Most folk don’t realize that both methods of birth spacing stem from the same science, the biochemistry of how the body works.   But there the similarities end.  The differences between the two are multiple but the most telling is the effect they have on the communication patterns between the spouses.

Despite many women thinking that contraception empowers them,  in contrast to natural family planning it may disempower them, most powerfully so in the realm of communication with their husbands.  NFP couples stay in constant touch on the wife’s fertility cycle and over time the husband learns a lot about his wife and the effect of her femaleness on her personality, her moods, her difficulties with her body or the peculiar burdens her body places on her at times.  Most normal men become more knowledgeable and sensitive to their wives as a result.

NFP couples are also always aware of their potency and their capacity to make children, that awesome power they carry within and between them.   Couples who use NFP will likely be much more sensitive on matters sexual with their children (after years of practice) when the time comes for introducing their children to these mysteries of life and the fundamentals of their sexual powers and responsibilities.  A very big difference exists between parents who use NFP and those who do not as they rate themselves on their success in raising their children (their success in the fullness of their sexuality).  Users of NFP far outstrip all others in their sense of success in raising their children.  (In the chart below, blue = NFP, red = general population, green = ever married Catholic population.  Source GSS plus survey of NFP users.)

The same data looked at differently yields the following depiction of the differences:

Melinda Gates has been to the forefront in pushing  UN family planning programs but it seems, is also doing some small funding of  NFP research and application as well.  However I bet she is totally unaware of the difference in parenting and  in the satisfaction between  couples with the different methods.  If she were I bet her money would be distributed differently.  She hopes to empower women but is backing the wrong horse for that race.

It would be very good to have a nationally representative sample survey that measures all the differences between the two methods of birth spacing.  The federal government has never done this research despite the billions of dollars it spends on matters sexual.  Is it not strange that there is no clamor for such knowledge?

The Fourth Circuit Gets It Fundamentally Wrong on Marriage

by Chris Gacek

August 1, 2014

On Monday a divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond upheld a federal district court’s decision from February 2014 declaring Virginia’s male-female marriage definition to be unconstitutional. In Bostic v. Schaeffer, the Court of Appeals ruled that Virginia’s “Marriage Laws,” including its electorally-enacted constitutional provision defining marriage, “warrant strict scrutiny due to their infringement of the fundamental right to marry.” Upon further analysis the court’s majority opinion, written by Judge Henry Floyd and joined by Judge Roger Gregory, concluded that these marital provisions were not supported by a sufficiently strong rationale to withstand heightened constitutional scrutiny.

The key fighting ground between the court’s majority and the dissenter, Judge Paul Niemeyer, lay in how to analyze the question of whether Virginia’s Marriage Laws infringed on a fundamental constitutional right held by same-sex couples. This is not a new type of question for federal courts to consider. When assessing whether a claimed right is fundamental under the Due Process Clause, the Supreme Court looks to a two-part test promulgated in its landmark 1997 ruling, Washington v. Glucksberg.

First, the court should asses a “careful description of the asserted fundamental liberty interest.” The claimed right must be described precisely. Second, such rights must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” Furthermore, the right must be “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” It is at this point that the majority made a disastrous error.

The critical step lies in how one defines the right, and the majority defined it incorrectly. The majority did “not dispute” that “states have refused to permit same-sex marriages for most of our country’s history.” Yet, this fact was deemed “irrelevant” here “because Glucksberg’s analysis applies only when courts consider whether to recognize new fundamental rights.” The Bostic court somewhat dishonestly side-stepped the strictures of Glucksberg by concluding that “the fundamental right to marry encompasses the right to same-sex marriage.” (p.41) The right to marry is well recognized as a fundamental right, but the majority interpreted the Supreme Court’s precedents in this area to “speak of a broad right to marry that is not circumscribed based on the characteristics of the individuals seeking to exercise the right.”

As the dissenting judge, Paul Niemeyer, pointed out, this must be false:

At bottom, in holding that same-sex marriage is encompassed by the traditional right to marry, the majority avoids the necessary constitutional analysis, concluding simply and broadly that the fundamental “right to marry”—by everyone and to anyone—may not be infringed. And it does not anticipate or address the problems that this approach causes, failing to explain, for example, why this broad right to marry, as the majority defines it, does not also encompass the “right” of a father to marry his daughter or the “right” of any person to marry multiple partners. (pp. 67-8)

Analyzed properly, the claimed right is not the right to marry with marriage defined all-inclusively, but rather, the right to marry a person of the same-sex. Of course, as the court conceded (above), states had not begun to recognize same-sex marriages until recent times. In actuality, such marriages have been allowed only since 2004 in a nation dating back to 1789. Same-sex marriage, as an institution recognized anywhere in the United States, is younger than Google and Facebook.

Enough said. Applying Glucksberg, there is clearly no fundamental constitutional right to enter into a same-sex marriage.

In closing, one offensive aspect of the majority opinion needs to be commented upon: its last sentence. In concluding its opinion, the court observed, “Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.” (p. 63) Using “segregation” here advances the calumny that opposition to same-sex marriage is akin to supporting racial segregation. That slur doesn’t even make sense.

The opposite sex composition of the marital relationship is the essential feature of what “marriage” is because true marriage allows for the union of one male human being and one female human being in a complementary sexual relationship that has the potential to produce children. It is the joining of embodied maleness and femaleness in a relationship that can sustain the nurture of children should they be produced.

No same-sex relationship has either capacity. Defining marriage as reality reveals allows for liberation to enter a great design. Segregation it is not.

The Dinner Table and the Banquet

by Emma Vinton

July 28, 2014

Ronald Reagan once said that great change starts at the dinner table.

One Easter Sunday morning after the Vigil Mass, my family sat down to a beautiful yet simple brunch, still in our pajamas. It was nothing extraordinary, but it remains in my memory as one of the most harmonious days of my life, surrounded by family, in the peace of the Risen Christ.

But there is something greater that allows for a dinner table to even exist and for a family to be around it. That something is love.

In God’s first words regarding mankind in the beginning, He established the whole basis for love and marriage in the Trinity: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). This Trinity, the plurality of persons (“our”) in a singular unified entity (“image”) speaks the generative Word that brings humankind into existence. This love is the love which is reflected in the institution of the family.

In marriage, the persons of the husband and wife become one body. They take upon themselves the work of God and partake in the creative words of the Trinity. The parents also choose to make man in “our likeness.” Their unitive love produces children, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the communion of the Father and the Son. The family, in its unity of distinct members, becomes a reflection of the Trinity.

President Reagan also said that the strong and loving families fathers help create are the soul of a nation. The family is the most fundamental institution of any nation, so vital that it is the very animating factor of society. It is the institution that stems from and proceeds towards charity, towards the heavenly institution which it reflects — the Trinity.

When the family sits down at the dinner table, all the members come together to share in a meal made possible by the provisions of the father and the nurturing of the mother.

And as a Catholic family, my family begins our meal with the Sign of the Cross and grace; we mark ourselves in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We invoke the love of the One Name upon our one family.

The dinner table is the place where love engenders transformation, radical changes that pour out from the family to the nation. Some of those changes are immediate; others take place over time, taking root on good soil to blossom later. Yet whether sudden or subtle, the dinner table is where life is fashioned and souls cultivated, souls which set the world aflame.

This earthly table is a prefigurement of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. It is a place of communion in familial love, the starting place for change, and an earthly vision of the eternal end in the heavenly banquet.

Wedding Belle Blues

by Robert Morrison

July 17, 2014

My wife and I were invited to a nice wedding. The reception for this event in the South was a most elegant affair. I enjoyed sampling the new and different foods and drink. Moving around the historic outdoor location on the water, I enjoyed exchanging pleasantries with the genial crowd of well-wishers.

Until, that is, I was accosted. A beautiful lady whom we and our friends knew socially from our town made a beeline for me. She had asked others if I still worked for that group. I hadn’t seen “Petra” in the years since she moved away, but I greeted her warmly.

You’re losing, you know,” she said, referring to Family Research Council’s fight to preserve true marriage. Realizing that others may be watching and not wanting to create a scene, I simply smiled and said, “Well, Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill were all losing for a while.”

Petra was not amused. Unsmiling, she said, “It’s all about Marriage Equality.” Warming to the topic, I replied: “So you are okay with twin brothers who are gay marrying? Is that your idea of marriage equality, too?”

Why would they want to?” she said, not taking the bait.

But if they do want to, you would not have a legal objection to their marrying. They truly love each other and have had a continuing relationship since before they were born. So that’s good?”

Clearly, she thought I was playing the fool. She didn’t want to continue down the clear path to what would be my next point: If twin brothers may marry, why not a twin brother and sister? And how about three spouses?

Fanciful? Not really. Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law Center has already pressed openly for polygamy. He rushed into federal court in Utah to have that state’s anti-polygamy law struck down—as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Windsor that the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

I knew that the marriagenders don’t just want to expand or re-define marriage; they want to abolish it. In fact, they’ve said so in their manifesto, “Beyond Marriage.” You can read their plan to destroy marriage here.

Petra changed topics. “I suppose you think fetuses have property rights?” She wanted to drag me into the debate on personhood of the unborn. I replied: “The unborn child’s inheritance rights have been recognized in law for centuries.”

Then, I got inspired, especially considering these lovely surroundings and this glittering company:

Petra, you remember the scene in Downton Abbey where Lady Grantham is getting out of her tub?” (All liberals watch the great English soap opera, shown in the US on PBS.)

I continued: “Her maid, O’Brien, puts a bar of soap on the floor and the pregnant Lady Grantham falls. Her fall causes her to suffer a miscarriage. She might have been carrying the heir to the Downton Abbey estate. We are all meant to see this as a wrong and O’Brien as an evil woman for causing this death.”

Petra is not happy with this turn of the conversation as it heats up. She is beginning to get angry I can see—very angry.

Then it dawned on me: In her social set, she probably never had anyone disagree with her politically correct notions before. Thus, the fury.

They don’t need reasons; they only need rage.

Then, the ladies of our group—like an intrepid bomb disposal unit—intervene to take Petra away. They want to show her the fresh waffle cone making for the homemade ice cream.

Petra’s husband “Walt” takes me by the arm in a brotherly way. He is a fundraiser for a major college. His manner is of a practiced and soothing smoothness.

With hearty goodwill, he waves his arm and airily pronounces: “You know, this whole thing could be solved if we just got rid of marriage in the law and adopted civil unions. That’s the reasonable solution,” Walt pronounces.

I’m actually enjoying this back-and-forth. Agreeably as I can, I rejoin: “Except that the California Supreme Court used that state’s civil unions law as their pretext for overturning the marriage law that the people had voted on. They ruled that, since California gives all the same privileges and immunities to same-sex couples through civil unions, there is no rational basis to deny them marriage.”

Walt seems unfazed by this inconvenient truth. So what do I think about the view? And the weather? Both are superlative, I assure him. We drift apart.

An hour later, as my wife and I were preparing to go, I mentioned to our small knot of friends that I’d like to say goodbye to Petra and Walt and pay them my respects.

Someone in our group says Bob wants to “apologize.” I try not to be disagreeable or contentious in this amicable social setting. But, still smiling, I assure our friends I want to apologize for nothing. I will never apologize for standing for marriage.

And neither should anyone else.

Is Living Together the Same as Marriage? The Latest Research

by Peter Sprigg

July 3, 2014

A growing number of couples are living together in sexual relationships without bothering to marry. Are these relationships essentially the same as marriages? Research over the decades has shown significant differences in these two household forms, and the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics continues that trend.

Here, verbatim, are the “Key findings” in a new report, “Marriage, Cohabitation, and Men’s Use of Preventive Health Care Services.”

QUOTE

Key findings

Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2011-2012

  • Among men aged 18–64, those who were married were more likely than cohabiting men and other not-married men to have had a health care visit in the past 12 months.
  • Marriage was associated with greater likelihood of a health care visit for both younger and older men, and for men with health insurance.
  • Among those for whom blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, married men were more likely than cohabiting men to have received these clinical preventive services in the past 12 months.
  • Cohabiting men were less likely than other not-married men to have had a health care visit, cholesterol check, or diabetes screening.

END QUOTE

The take-away? Men, the next time your wives nag you to go to the doctor — be thankful!

The Tenth Circuit’s Kitchen v. Herbert Flubs Fundamental Rights Analysis

by Chris Gacek

June 26, 2014

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a federal district court’s decision striking down the definition of marriage found in Utah’s constitution. That definition limited Utah marriages to the union of one man and one woman. It was approved by referendum in November 2004 with 65.9% of the vote. In Kitchen v. Herbert, a 2-1 majority court struck down that definition by concluding, among other things, that there is a fundamental right to enter into a same-sex marriage. There is much more to the decision, but this note will focus on this key aspect of opinion.

As the U.S. Supreme Court instructed in Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997), the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees more than fair process. It “also provides heightened scrutiny against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests.” Id. at 720. But, how does one determine what rights and interests are “fundamental?” Glucksberg is the key case in setting forth the constitutional law in this area.

Paul Linton summarized the Glucksberg standard in the Family Research Council’s amicus brief in Kitchen (pp. 3-5) (edits to text, notes, and citations have been made below):

In determining whether an asserted liberty interest (or right) should be regarded as fundamental for purposes of substantive due process analysis under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment[] (infringement of which would call for strict scrutiny review), the Supreme Court applies a two-prong test. First, there must be a “careful description” of the asserted fundamental liberty interest. Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997). Second, the interest, so described, must be firmly rooted in “the Nation’s history, legal traditions, and practices.” Id. at 710. ….

As in other cases asserting fundamental liberty interests, it is necessary to provide a “careful description” of the fundamental liberty interest at stake. For purposes of substantive due process analysis, therefore, the issue here is not who may marry, but what marriage is. The principal defining characteristic of marriage, as it has been understood in our “history, legal traditions, and practices,” is the union of a man and a woman. Properly framed, therefore, the issue before this Court is not whether there is a fundamental right to enter into a marriage with the person of one’s choice, but whether there is a right to enter into a same-sex marriage. ….

This is the point at which the majority opinion runs off the rails. It dodges the hard edge of Glucksberg requiring a tight, accurate definition of the claimed right. The Kitchen court goes in another direction asserting baldly (p. 35), “But we cannot conclude that the fundamental liberty interest in this case is limited to the right to marry a person of the opposite sex.” They cannot do so because they will not to do so.

Of course, there is a fundamental right to marry a person of the opposite sex. See Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1817 (1967). And, homosexuals are not precluded from marrying in any state. But, what is this national debate about? It is about the definition of marriage. Homosexual men and women assert that the laws of over thirty states should be nullified because, among other things, there is a fundamental right to marry members of the same sex. Furthermore, all states must be compelled to recognize male-male and female-female marriages.

Returning to the Glucksberg test it is manifestly clear that there is no such fundamental right, for it must be deeply embedded in “the Nation’s history, legal traditions, and practices.” How can this be possible with the claimed fundamental right to same-sex marriage? There is nothing about it that is firmly grounded in this country’s history, legal tradition, and practices. There were no same-sex marriages anywhere in the United States until the 21st Century.

Google is older than same-sex marriage.

There is a Supreme Court case that is instructive here, and it is Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972). Much blood in the same-sex marriage debate has been spilled over this case. In Baker, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from a decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court which had rejected arguments for same-sex marriage similar to those being considered presently in our courts. Baker v. Nelson, 291 Minn. 310, 191 N.W.2d 185 (1971).

The U.S. Supreme Court declined the invitation to consider the matter stating that there was a “want of a federal question.” It has been argued that Baker precludes lower federal courts from even considering these issues, but federal courts have brushed aside those arguments, especially in the post-Windsor environment. It should be noted that the dissenting judge in Kitchen did accept this argument. Judge Kelly would have dismissed the case and left it for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it wanted to revisit this area of the law. That seems like the correct approach.

Laying aside the argument that Baker requires a dismissal by lower courts, Baker is highly instructive in answering whether any claimed right to same-sex marriage is “fundamental.”

In 1972, the fundamental right argument was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it was rejected – as it had been in Minnesota. Because Glucksberg tells us that fundamental rights must be rooted in our nation’s legal history and traditions, such a right should have been extant only forty-two years ago when the Supreme Court considered the Baker appeal. Fundamental right questions are dyadic – you either have one, a 0, or not, a 1. Baker gives us the Supreme Court’s answer in 1972: 0. Both courts had the constitutional issues presented in a manner we would recognize today. The Minnesota Supreme Court quoted Loving noting “there is a clear distinction between a marital restriction based merely upon race and one based upon the fundamental difference in sex.” Baker, 291 Minn. at 315 (concluding the court’s equal protection analysis and discussing Loving).

Thus, the Baker Court had the core legal concepts and precedents before it that we now routinely see in same-sex marriage litigation (e.g., fundamental rights claim, arguments based on Loving), and it dismissed the appeal.

Of course, there are equal protection arguments to also consider, but one must reasonably conclude that the Kitchen majority’s fundamental rights analysis fails badly. This point is underscored by footnote 4 of the FRC amicus brief in Kitchen which provides a lengthy list of courts that have rejected the argument that any fundamental rights (Due Process) analysis supports the claims of the Utah plaintiffs challenging the state’s natural marriage definition.

Three Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Assume the Supreme Court Will Redefine Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

June 25, 2014

Two more federal courts have now ruled that the natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution—a District Court in Indiana, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in a case out of Utah.

There is a growing consensus among the liberal elites that it is “inevitable” that the U. S. Supreme Court will eventually declare a constitutional “right” to marry someone of the same sex. Here are three quick reasons to believe they are wrong:

1) The Court was already asked to declare such a right last year—and it refused. The supposed legal superstars Ted Olson and David Boies teamed up to challenge California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court—but that case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, ended with a whimper instead of a bang. The Court issued a narrow technical ruling that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to defend it in Court in place of state officials, who refused to do so. This ruling had the end result of allowing same-sex “marriages” to resume in California, but it established no precedent at all.

If it were clear to a majority of the Court that the U.S. Constitution requires states to allow same-sex “marriages,” it would have been easy enough to declare as much last year. The fact that they did not may indicate at least some reluctance to do so.

2) In the case of U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court did strike down the federal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, that decision was based largely on DOMA’s deviation from the tradition of the federal government deferring to state definitions of marriage. That same tradition would suggest that the Court should allow states to continue defining marriage as they choose.

3) When the current flurry of federal court decisions redefining marriage began last year, several of the lower courts involved refused to even issue a stay of their ruling pending appeal. However, the Supreme Court did issue such stays—suggesting that they are not in nearly so much of a rush to get same-sex couples to the altar or the justice of the peace as other judges are.

I’m not making bets or even predictions as to what the Supreme Court will do if and when one of these new cases reaches them. The court has issued bad, unjustified, unprecedented decisions before. I am just pointing out that there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the Court is not eager to overturn the very constitutions of a majority of these United States.

Churches in Denmark Forced to Perform Same-Sex “Marriages”

by Travis Weber

June 12, 2014

Just when we think things are getting bad here in the United States, we observe the Danish Parliament passing a law requiring all churches to perform same-sex “marriages.” Although with this development, religious liberty is almost non-existent in Denmark, individual ministers can still opt out of performing the wedding. In that case, the church must find another minister to perform the required duties. This is no small consolation, however, for such a law in one blow nullifies any freedom of an organization or church to define itself according to its own religious values.

Some Danes are holding strong, though:

Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can’t change something as fundamental,” … church spokesperson Christian Langballe said … . “Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.”

In support of the law, one prominent businessman said “[w]e have felt a little like we were living in the Middle Ages… . I think it is positive that there is now a majority for [the law], and that there are so many priests and bishops who are in favour of it, and that the Danish population supports up about it [sic]. We have moved forward. It’s 2012.”

Notice the appeal to the idea of “majority support.” This is the very type of tyranny the Bill of Rights in the United States is meant to protect against.

While such a law would never survive a constitutional challenge in the United States, it still serves as a sober warning of forces seeking to attack a biblical worldview.

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