Rad­i­cal con­se­quences of the Cal­i­for­nia de­ci­sion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - DEN­NIS PRAGER

Amer­i­cans seem mes­mer­ized by the word “change.” And, by golly, they sure got it two weeks ago from the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court. It is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a sin­gle so­cial change greater than redefin­ing mar­riage from op­po­site sex to in­clude mem­bers of the same sex.

Noth­ing imag­in­able — left­ward or right­ward — would con­sti­tute as rad­i­cal a change in the way so­ci­ety is struc­tured as this redefin­ing of mar­riage for the first time in his­tory: Not an­other Pro­hi­bi­tion, not gov­ern­ment tak­ing over all health care, not chang­ing all pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion to private schools, not Amer­ica leav­ing the United Na­tions, not re­scind­ing the in­come tax and re­plac­ing it with a con­sump­tion tax. Noth­ing.

Un­less Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers amend the Cal­i­for­nia Con­sti­tu­tion or Congress amends the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, four jus­tices of the Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court will have changed Amer­i­can so­ci­ety more than any four in­di­vid­u­als since Wash­ing­ton, Jef­fer­son, Adams and Madi­son.

And what is par­tic­u­larly amaz­ing is that vir­tu­ally none of those who sup­port this de­ci­sion — let alone the four com­pas­sion­ate jus­tices — ac­knowl­edge this. The mantra of the sup­port­ers of this sea change in so­ci­ety is that it’s no big deal. Hey, it doesn’t af­fect any het­ero­sex­u­als’ mar­riage, so what’s the prob­lem?

This lack of ac­knowl­edg­ment — or even aware­ness — of how so­ci­ety-chang­ing is this re­def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage is one rea­son the de­ci­sion was made. To the four com­pas­sion­ate ones — and their mil­lions of com­pas­sion­ate sup­port­ers — al­low­ing same-sex mar­riage is noth­ing more than what courts did to end le­gal bans on in­ter­ra­cial mar­riage. The jus­tices and their sup­port­ers know not what they did. They think that all they did was ex­tend a “right” that had been un­fairly de­nied to gays.

An­other rea­son for this de­ci­sion is ar­ro­gance. First, the ar­ro­gance of four in­di­vid­u­als to im­pose their un­der­stand­ing of what is right and wrong on the rest of so­ci­ety. And sec­ond is the ar­ro­gance of the four com­pas­sion­ate ones in as­sum­ing that all thinkers, the­olo­gians, philoso­phers, reli­gions and moral sys­tems in his­tory were wrong, while they and their sup­port­ers have seen a moral light never seen be­fore. Not a sin­gle re­li­gion or moral philo­soph­i­cal sys­tem — East or West — since an­tiq­uity ever de­fined mar­riage as be­tween mem­bers of the same sex.

That is one rea­son the ar­gu­ment that this de­ci­sion is the same as courts un­do­ing le­gal bans on mar­riages be­tween races is false. No ma­jor re­li­gion — not Ju­daism, not Chris­tian­ity, not Is­lam, not Bud­dhism — ever banned in­ter­ra­cial mar­riage. Some reli­gions have banned mar­riages with mem­bers of other reli­gions. But since th­ese reli­gions al­lowed any­one of any race to con­vert, i.e., be­come a mem­ber of that re­li­gion, the race or eth­nic­ity of in­di­vid­u­als never mat­tered with re­gard to mar­riage. Amer­i­can bans on in­ter­ra­cial mar­riages were not sup­ported by any ma­jor re­li­gious or moral sys­tem; those bans were im­moral aber­ra­tions, no mat­ter how many re­li­gious in­di­vid­u­als may have sup­ported them. Jus­tices who over­threw bans on in­ter­ra­cial mar­riages, there­fore, had vir­tu­ally ev­ery moral and re­li­gious value sys­tem since an­cient times on their side. But jus­tices who over­throw the ban on same-sex mar­riage have noth­ing other their hubris and their no­tions of com­pas­sion on their side.

Since the sec­u­lar age be­gan, the no­tion that one should look to re­li­gion — or to any past wis­dom — for one’s val­ues has died. Thus, the mod­ern at­tempts to undo the Judeo-Chris­tian value sys­tem as the ba­sis of Amer­ica’s val­ues, and to dis­par­age the Founders as es­sen­tially morally flawed in­di­vid­u­als (They al­lowed slav­ery, didn’t they?). The mod­ern sec­u­lar lib­eral knows that he is not only morally su­pe­rior to con­ser­va­tives; he is morally su­pe­rior to vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one who ever lived be­fore him.

Which leads to a third rea­son such a sea change could be so cav­a­lierly im­posed by four in­di­vid­u­als — the mod­ern sup­plant­ing of wis­dom with com­pas­sion as the supreme guide in form­ing so­ci­ety’s val­ues and laws. Just as for re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ists, “the Bi­ble says” ends dis­cus­sion, for lib­eral fun­da­men­tal­ists, “com­pas­sion says” ends dis­cus­sion.

If this ver­dict stands, so­ci­ety as we have known it will change. The Cal­i­for­nia Supreme Court and its mil­lions of sup­port­ers are play­ing with fire. And it will even­tu­ally burn fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in ways we can only be­gin to imag­ine.

Out­side of the pri­vacy of their homes, young girls will be dis­cour­aged from imag­in­ing one day mar­ry­ing their prince charm­ing — to do so would be de­clared “het­ero­sex­ist,” morally equiv­a­lent to racist. Rather, they will be told to imag­ine a prince or a princess. School­books will not be al­lowed to de­scribe mar­riage in male-fe­male ways alone. Lit­tle girls will be asked by other girls and by teach­ers if they want one day to marry a man or a wo­man.

The sex­ual con­fu­sion that same-sex mar­riage will cre­ate among young peo­ple is not fully mea­sur­able. Suf­fice it to say that, con­trary to the sex­ual know-noth­ings who be­lieve that sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion is fixed from birth and per­ma­nent, the fact is that sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion is more of a con­tin­uum that ranges from exclusive het­ero­sex­u­al­ity to exclusive ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. Much of hu­man­ity — es­pe­cially fe­males — can en­joy ho­mo­sex­ual sex. It is up to so­ci­ety to chan­nel poly­mor­phous hu­man sex­u­al­ity into an ex­clu­sively het­ero­sex­ual di­rec­tion — un­til now, ac­com­plished through mar­riage. But that of course is “het­ero­sex­ism,” a big­oted pref­er­ence for man-wo­man erotic love, and there­fore to be ex­tir­pated from so­ci­ety.

Any ad­vo­cacy of man-wo­man mar­riage alone will be re­garded morally as hate speech, and shortly there­after it will be deemed so in law.

Com­pa­nies that ad­ver­tise en­gage­ment rings will have to show a man putting a ring on a man’s fin­ger — if they show only women fin­gers, they will be boy­cotted just as a com­pany hav­ing racist ads would be now.

Films that only show man­woman mar­ried cou­ples will be re­garded as an­ti­so­cial and as morally ir­re­spon­si­ble as films that show peo­ple smok­ing have be­come.

Tra­di­tional Jews and Chris­tians — i.e. those who be­lieve in a divine scrip­ture — will be marginal­ized. Al­ready Catholic groups in Mas­sachusetts have aban­doned adop­tion work since they will only al­low a child to be adopted by a mar­ried cou­ple as the Bi­ble de­fines it — a man and a wo­man.

Any­one who ad­vo­cates mar­riage be­tween a man and a wo­man will be morally re­garded the same as racist. And soon it will be a hate crime.

In­deed — and this is the ul­ti­mate goal of many of the same-sex mar­riage ac­tivists — the terms “male” and “fe­male,” “man” and “wo­man” will grad­u­ally lose their sig­nif­i­cance. They al­ready are. On the in­tel­lec­tual and cul­tural left, “male” and “fe­male” are deemed so­cial con­structs that have lit­tle mean­ing. That is why same-sex mar­riage ad­vo­cates ar­gue that chil­dren have no need for both a mother and a fa­ther — the sexes are in­ter­change­able. What­ever a fa­ther can do a sec­ond mother can do. What­ever a mother can do, a sec­ond fa­ther can do. Gen­i­talia are the only real dif­fer­ences be­tween the sexes, and even they can be switched at will.

And what will hap­pen af­ter di­vorce — which pre­sum­ably will oc­cur at the same rates as het­ero­sex­ual di­vorce? A boy raised by two les­bian moth­ers who di­vorce and re­marry will then have four moth­ers and no fa­ther.

We have en­tered some­thing be­yond Hux­ley’s “Brave New World.” All thanks to the hubris of four in­di­vid­u­als. But such hubris never goes unan­swered. Our chil­dren and their chil­dren will pay the price.

An­tic­i­pat­ing re­ac­tions to this col­umn — as to all de­fenses of man-wo­man mar­riage — that it or its au­thor are “ho­mo­pho­bic,” i.e., big­oted and un­wor­thy of re­spect­ful re­join­der, it is im­por­tant to reaf­firm that noth­ing writ­ten here is im­plic­itly, let alone ex­plic­itly, anti-gay. I take it as ax­iomatic that a gay man or wo­man is cre­ated in God’s im­age and as pre­cious as any other hu­man be­ing. And I read­ily ac­knowl­edge that it is un­fair when an adult is not al­lowed to marry the love of his or her choice. But so­cial pol­icy can­not be made solely on the ba­sis of erad­i­cat­ing all of life’s un­fair­ness. Thus, we must love the gay per­son — and his and or her part­ner as well. But we must never change the def­i­ni­tion of mar­riage. The price to so­ci­ety and suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tions will be too great.

That is why Cal­i­for­ni­ans must amend their state’s Con­sti­tu­tion.

Den­nis Prager is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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