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The White House recently told the press there couldn’t be more difference between my position on gay marriage and President Obama’s.
On reflection, I agree.
President Obama’s position on marriage is constantly “evolving,” as he so often says. He’s not sure what marriage is, or what it should become, and no doubt right now he’s consulting highly-paid polling experts to determine how his position – and marriage itself – should morph next. This should come as no surprise given the President’s musings about the other great moral issue of our time, the protection of human life.
In a 2008 campaign forum, Pastor Rick Warren asked, “at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?” Obama answered, “Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a science perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.” But as an Illinois State Senator, Barack Obama articulated a very clear view of when a baby was granted rights. He was the only senator to vote against the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in committee; legislation that protected babies who survived an abortion and were born alive. He was the only senator to speak against it on the senate floor.
At the time, the constitutional law professor boldly asserted, that “whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or other elements of the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a–a child, a 9 month old–child that was delivered to term.” He says children only have rights who are 9-months old and delivered at term. So, does that mean any child born before 9 months is not entitled to rights?
By contrast, millions of Americans, including myself, know what we think about human life and marriage. We know not only what we think but why we believe what we believe. We know that some truths are bigger than the next election and should not shift with political consultants’ advice. And among those great, enduring, and foundational truths, I believe, are life and marriage.
An unborn child is not just a clump of cells. He or she is a human life, as worthy of basic dignity and respect as any one of us. Each precious, irreplaceable human life is too infinitely valuable to permit courts to redefine its meaning away. I fought against Partial Birth Abortion, a horrific procedure supported by President Obama, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. When the highest court found the law banning the practice unconstitutional, I sent it back to the justices a second time so they could get it right.
Marriage is, and has always been through human history, a union of a man and woman – and for a reason. These unions are special because they are the ones we all depend on to make new life and to connect those new lives to their mom and dad.
A husband is a man who commits to a woman, to her and any children she may give him. He commits to his wife without any reservations, to share with her all his worldly goods and to exclude all others from this intimate communion of life. From this vow of marriage comes a wonderful and unique good: any children their union creates will have a mom and a dad united in love, in one family.
That’s the special work of marriage in law – to connect things that otherwise fray and fragment: love, life, money, moms, and dads.
A man who does not seek to do this – who doesn’t choose to give himself to a woman and any children they may have together in this unique and special way – may well be a very good man and have wonderful other kinds of relationships, but he isn’t seeking to be a husband. We can’t redefine reality to accommodate politically fashionable wishes. Words matter because they capture enduring and timeless truths about human nature and about the common good.
Lawyers cannot create life and did not create marriage. And lawyers (whether on the bench or in politics) have no business redefining either to suit the shifting winds of fashion, or worse, for political expediency.
I know so many single moms who work so hard and do such a great job raising children. We need to applaud every heroic parent working hard to raise good kids regardless of whether or not they are married; just as we need to protect all our children, born and unborn, those lucky enough to have the gift of a married mom and dad and those who do not.
We can do this without cravenly surrendering timeless truths about marriage and human life. We don’t want liberal media-approved lawyers and politicians massaging the meaning of words, or judges implementing vast social changes without the consent of the governed, or, frankly, politicians like President Obama who cannot even tell you what marriage will be next week.
In positions of power, we need men and women of character, willing to stand up and defend what they think is right and to level with the American people. America is hungry for leadership. I have found everywhere I go across this great land that people appreciate it if they know you’re the kind of man they can trust to tell the truth on important issues even if they do not agree with you on every issue.
Marriage is a society’s life blood. Not everybody can or will marry, but all of us (married or not) depend on marriage in a unique way. Marriage is foundational: it creates and sustains not only children but civilization itself. This is an institution which protects our liberty.
A president who, after thousands of years of human history, a Harvard law degree, and four years in the White House, cannot tell us with certainty what he thinks marriage or life is, is not worthy of the trust of the American people or a second term in office. It is time for leadership in America. It is time again to stand for self-evident foundational truths.