Photo Credit: Ken Weingart Some former officials in the Republican Party are urging the Supreme Court to redefine marriage for the nation. But support for marriage as the union of a man and a woman is essential to American—and conservative—principles. Indeed, nothing could be less conservative than urging an activist court to redefine an essential institution of civil society.
As my co-authors and I argue in our new book, What Is Marriage?, and in the amicus brief we filed with the Supreme Court, marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, on the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and on the social reality that children need a mother and a father. Marriage has public purposes that transcend its private purposes.
Marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. All Americans, especially conservatives, should respect this crucial institution of civil society. This is why 41 states, with good reason, affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing.
Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children. It would deny as a matter of policy the ideal that a child needs a mom and a dad. We know that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and a father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and cause welfare programs to grow even more.
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