Opinion: Marriage act may fall

March 15, 2013


Given his track record on marital fidelity, former President Bill Clinton is not the person I would consult about “committed, loving relationships.” Clinton used those words in a Washington Post op-ed last week, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, which he signed into law.

In his column, Clinton said that 1996 “was a very different time.” No state recognized same-sex marriage, and supporters of DOMA “believed that its passage ‘would diffuse a movement to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which would have ended the debate for a generation or more.’” Clinton says he now supports same-sex marriage based on justice, equality and the Constitution.

All of the arguments for and against same-sex marriage have been heard and will be heard again on March 26 and 27 when lawyers on both sides of the issue argue two key cases regarding same-sex marriages before the Supreme Court. The justices are expected to rule in June. It will be the court’s most important social and cultural ruling since its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

What advocates for same-sex marriage should be asked is whether they consider any other human relationship worthy of similar constitutional protection and based on what standard? The Constitution doesn’t guarantee the right to marry. States, not the federal government, issue marriage licenses. Current laws restrict “underage” marriage, as well as polygamy. If same-sex marriage is approved, what’s to stop polygamists from demanding legal protection and cultural acceptance? Justice Antonin Scalia predicted as much in 2003 in his dissent of the Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the court struck down the sodomy law in Texas. So I ask, if “fairness” and “equality” are the standard, isn’t it also “unfair” to “discriminate” against polygamists who wish to live in “loving” and “committed” relationships?

Since we are rapidly discarding the rules for living and social order set down in a book found in most motel room drawers, what is to replace it? Opinion polls? Clever legal arguments? Fairness? What exactly does “fairness” mean and who decides what’s fair? Many things may seem “unfair,” but not all can, or should, be addressed by courts.

I am reminded of this exchange between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”:

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’(‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things...’”

Last week in Sacramento, Calif., Justice Anthony Kennedy lamented that the Supreme Court is asked to settle too many politically charged issues. Responding to reporters, Kennedy said, “A democracy should not be dependent for its major decisions on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say. And I think it’s of tremendous importance for our political system to show the rest of the world that democracy works because we can reach agreement on a principle basis.”

The states, or Congress, should be allowed to sort out how they wish to define and license marriage, not the Supreme Court.

It doesn’t take a prophet to see where this is headed. A nation that legalizes abortion and applies no stigma to cohabitation and out-of-wedlock births is not about to suddenly discover the moral courage to say “no” to same-sex marriage.

In the 1999 film “The Matrix,” Agent Smith has Neo pinned down on a subway track. As the train approaches, Agent Smith says: “You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your death.”

If, as I suspect, the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA, it will be the inevitable result of an increasing number of Americans abandoning the source of morality and goodness. As Calvin Coolidge said of our Declaration of Independence, “We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


usesomesense 5 years, 2 months ago

" it will be the inevitable result of an increasing number of Americans abandoning the source of morality and goodness"

For those who don't know - the simplest definition of 'morality' is in fact 'goodness', and a simple definition of 'goodness' is in fact kindness and/or generosity.

So it appears to me that Cal seems to think allowing same sex marriage is due to pressure from unkind people?!?

Frankly, marriage is a religious institution and if your religion (or whatever you want to call it - we are supposed to have freedom of it) allows it, the government shouldn't be involved. I've been married nearly 20 years and the partnership I have with my wife was the best single decision I have ever made.

As far as the contract of marriage - that's something all together different. Contracts can be made between any two or more people (or entities for that matter). Contracts are judged and enforced by our legal system, so a governmental ban on same sex contracts (or contracts with multiple partners) would be a real problem.

One of the really big issues really pushing for reform is partner benefits - typically health insurance benefits. The fact is the health insurance model is ridiculous - it's all about who you work for or who your partner works for instead of where you live and some basic voluntary risk factors (like smoking) and age bracket. Do away with the silliness there - make insurance available to all citizens with no prejudice based on the size of their employer - and the pressure for a federal law to make things fair would be reduced.

weeslicket 5 years, 2 months ago

calvin says: "Since we are rapidly discarding the rules for living and social order set down in a book found in most motel room drawers, ... " might be referring to the local phone book.

then calvin asks: "... what is to replace it?" the book of mormon!! geeze cal, when was the last time you stayed at a motel??

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

All Cal Thomas columns should be titled exactly the same:

"I'm An Old Stuffed Shirt and the World Has Passed Me By. Let Me Spend 800 Words Expressing How Angry I Am About That."

Granted, it's a rather long title, but after the 10 repetition we could probably make it into an understood acronym.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

no stigma to cohabitation and out of wedlock births. What decade is Cal living in? the 1940's or 50"s? Stigma was bad... doesn't he know that??

voevoda 5 years, 2 months ago

Cal Thomas' logic really failed in this essay.

"The rules for living and social order set down in a book found in most motel room drawers"--one assumes he meant the Bible, but it could be the Book of Mormon--actually endorses polygamy. And concubinage. But it doesn't say anything about abortion. It depicts cohabitation in a positive light (book of Ruth). It depicts loving relationships between men (David and Jonathan). By calling upon the Bible as his authority, Cal Thomas actually undercuts his whole argument.

Furthermore, how can gay marriage lead to abortion, cohabitation, and out-of-wedlock births? Gay couples cannot produce unwanted pregnancies, so hence no abortions result. If they are married, they aren't just cohabiting. If they are married, then children born to the (lesbian) couple are in-wedlock, not out of wedlock. Gay male couples might well choose to adopt children, and so they help to solve the problem of out-of-wedlock births and provide an alternative to abortion.

By all logic, Cal Thomas should be an enthusiastic supporter of gay marriage.

avarom 5 years, 2 months ago

Yes there is some type of loyalty there ....is called Community Property, and she would obtain 50% of everything...........that is some type of encouragement to remained married for most folks.....sometimes its better to share the shame, then endure the monetary pain.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years, 2 months ago

This post does not make sense in the context of Thomas's column.

nominalize 5 years, 2 months ago

or in real life. When people with jobs like hers want to get a divorce, they get a divorce.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

The DOMA is clearly unconstitutional. I very much hope the Supreme Court has the courage to rule as such.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

Oh poor Cal. If the marriage act falls, he will be forced to divorce his wife and marry a guy.

avarom 5 years, 2 months ago

Guys....please leave Cal alone.....you know he's a legend in his own mind....give the guy a flake...I mean...break!

weeslicket 5 years, 2 months ago

crimony. i feel like i'm back in the larryville monkey-house.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 2 months ago

To quote an oldie and moldy, "Marriage changed when we stopped having to pay three goats and a cow for a bride."
Marriage changed when we made laws that outlawed polygamy.
Marriage changed when we outlawed "child marriage".
Marriage changed when we outlawed anti-miscegenation laws.
In truth, outside of religion, marriage is nothing more than a legal contract between two consenting adults, that grants equal rights and responsibilities to both people in that contract. And frankly, gender has nothing to do with it.
Given that our Constitution guarantees a separation of Church and State, the DOMA is clearly unconstitutional. Get over it.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

@IKU57, Cait48, "Given that our Constitution guarantees a separation of Church and State..."

The Constitution of the United States of America does not, and never has had anything about separation of Church and State in it at all. Perhaps you are confusing it with communism?

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

so what the founding fathers implied only applies to the 2nd amendment, and not the first??

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

The first amendment does not have the words "separation of Church and State" anywhere in it. Many communist constitutions do use that corrupt statement and idea. It's corrupt because it would put the State as a power above and therefore in control of the Church of God. (Which is what many people try to do today). The Church of God, and God himself, is the authority behind "We the people" which played an important part in the creation of the Constitution and marriage between a man and a woman. The Constitution was written in a manner that places limits on government; it was not written for the purpose of putting limits on the people or any religion. Further, since the amendments are not limits placed on people or the Church, but are only some, but not all listed freedoms naturally given from God and the Church. (These freedoms are not derived or given from the government, so the government can't make laws to take them away or limit them). The real power behind the Bill of Rights does not come from the government. This is where the Supreme Court has exceeded their authority by stating that all freedoms have limits, (meaning that the government will now start to limit your freedoms if they want to). (Read the preamble to the Bill of Rights). Have you considered if you don't believe in God or like His goodness, perhaps you are also rejecting your natural freedoms and (constitutional listed freedoms) which were derived and come from God, which includes marriage between a man and a woman? Why would you want to withstand your own freedoms by rejecting God? So there is a definite connection between God and the founding of this country and the Constitution, that can not be refuted. Having said that, men and women throughout history that have been in government and Church have tried to corrupt and use the institution of God's Church to force people to be under their dominion by being under a State religion or a false church for gaining more political power and control. This is man's fleshly doings and does not come from God. Don't confuse the real Church of God and a false human State controlled church that is used to gain political control. God gives the law to show the perfect standard of God. He knows we can't perform it, so He sent His Son Jesus, who died on a cross to make payment for the penalty of your sin and that of the whole world, to make you perfectly presentable and acceptable to God the Judge of all. In this relationship, is perfect freedom that I hope you will discover and enjoy for eternity and not foolishly turn away from.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

Jefferson's letter does not actually support your anti-religion position the way you suppose. That is the letter that most liberals like to quote and misuse when anyone speaks of religion and government in the same breath. Progressive liberals think it is a license for them to push out religion or Christianity, so they can use government to force the influence of the Church/God or scripture out of the affairs of government. Jefferson's letter does not suggest that the Church is forbidden from intervening or acting in the affairs of government at all; quite the opposite. It says that the government should not make laws respecting the establishment of religion (government stay out of the affairs of the Church and no State funded Church religions) and don't use laws to prevent the Church's free exercise, even within government (Prayers and the 10 commandments are allowed, since it does not make any law against a Church or create a State religion that everyone must obey. Notice it is not intended to limit the Church in government. Look at the government buildings in Washington DC that have the 10 commandments from God on them, carved in stone. Jefferson is encouraging the Church to operate freely in or out of government as it sees fit. It does not suggest keeping the Church or religion out of the government, or limiting it, but rather keeps the government out of the affairs of the Church and other religions. It is not the same as the "wall of separation of Church and State" that communism uses to politically control the Church and suppress it, which is the version that progressives normally try to use. The intent of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the Constitution who supports the Church and it's freedoms to be free to operate as they choose in or out of government.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

and the 2nd amendment doesnt say guns no matter what.... And there is not a connection between GOD and the founding of the country and the constitution...only if that the founders wanted to make sure that religion didn't rule the country. they wanted it separate....

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

There is a connection actually.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Governments are instituted to protect the above rights.

Try as one might, you can't get around the fact that the founders' faith was an underpinning of their political philosophy, and desire to create the kind of country they created.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago


You think they meant your mom?

I doubt it somehow.

And, actually, your mom didn't create you herself either, that also required a father, right?

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Ah, we've been waiting for you - glad to see you're back :-)

Everything should get better now.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

Creator doesn't specify god, does it? It says "men...are endowed by their creator." The founders had different and varied religious beliefs...and the word "creator" encapsulated all of it.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago


The point is that you can't really claim that religion had nothing to do with the founders and their views.

It clearly formed the underpinning for their belief in inalienable rights, and the desire to create a country and government that would protect those.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

I didn't claim that religion had nothing to do with the Founders... its just not in the constitution as the previous poster would want to believe. Creator is not necessarily god. Creator is encompasses all. We were always more than a christian nation, even though numerous attempts were made to control it, and get rid of other beliefs.

Alyosha 5 years, 2 months ago

Your post makes no sense absent a definition of the word "God."

Chuck Anziulewicz 5 years, 2 months ago


The morality of Gay marriage is comparable to the morality of Straight marriage: It is morally and ethically preferable to encourage people toward monogamy and commitment, rather than relegating them to lives of loneliness and possibly promiscuity.

Studies have repeatedly shown that the benefits are substantial:

1: Married couples typically contribute more and take less from society.

2: Married couples support and care for each other financially, physically and emotionally and often contribute more to the economy and savings.

3: Individuals who are married are less likely to receive government entitlements.

4: Individuals who are married statistically consume less health care services, and often give more to churches and charities.

5: Married couples are better able to provide care and security for children.

So what sense does it make to exclude law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples from this place at the table? Why is it, for example, that Straight couples are encouraged to date, get engaged, marry and build lives together in the context of monogamy and commitment, and that this is a GOOD thing … yet for Gay couples to do exactly the same is somehow a BAD thing? To me this seems like a very poor value judgment.

As Judge Vaughn Walker said in the decision on California's Prop. 8 Case: "Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages." It was a view shared by the courts in the Golinski case against DOMA, where a Bush appointee in the Northern District of California concurred: "The exclusion of same-sex couples from the federal definition of marriage does nothing to encourage or strengthen opposite-sex marriages."

Left_of_Lawrence 5 years, 2 months ago

"Cats and Dogs living together; mass hysteria !"

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

Marriage is easy. Two or more consenting persons entering by choice into a marriage contract.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

Let's go for two consenting adults for now and leave "or more" for later. Division of community property is easier when there are only two principals involved.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Not a good reason to deny folks the opportunity to form multiple partner marriages, in my view.

Division of property is even easier if we don't have any communal property - maybe we should disallow that?

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

Holy cow, Liberty275 and I agree on something.

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

So be it!

Why is my government applying laws differently based on martial status and gender (or a bunch of other things). The government interest here is in the resolution of disputes on property and children.

If religious institutions wish to restrict relationships among their members so be it. Their beliefs should not drive the secular world - unless those beliefs translate into a majority opinion of the electorate (and even then with due protection for minorities).

nominalize 5 years, 2 months ago

As Mr Thomas rightfully points, out, the federal government doesn't marry anybody--- that's up to the states (and DC) to decide for themselves (okay, maybe in the military they get a say, I don't know). What's mainly at stake is whether federal law and policy will recognize already-existing same-sex marriages in states and foreign countries that allow them,.

If DOMA goes away, that won't necessarily mean that Kansas has to allow gay marriage. That would depend on the scope and reasoning of the ruling, and with the current composition of the court, I don't see anything too far-ranging.

gccs14r 5 years, 2 months ago

The 14th Amendment applies, so individual states will not be able to keep their bans on the books.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 2 months ago

Marriage, morals, values and all holy books are human inventions. The three jewels of the Tao should be sufficient for all.....


Tough standards, no?

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

Marriage, morals, values and the Bible come from God, and His law, which most countries use in similar form, to enact their local laws. God has set the standard throughout the world with his laws for society to follow, which is where our common law came from in the United States. The simple form of the commandment is: Love God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and strength. And secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. The law is not for a righteous man, but for the ungodly. The law was given to limit sin, until Jesus, the Son of God arrived, who perfectly fulfilled the law.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 2 months ago

I believe in people's basic altruisim; you believe in magic. We are both seeking the same end.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

but you only follow certain values and morals from the bible. you wear polyester and eat seafood, and you only have one wife. Or do you own slaves, as the bible condoned? you cant pick and choose which values to follow from the bible.
and the preaching is gettin old.

Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Additionally, churches weren't involved in marriage until the 14th century with the Council of Trent.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

Cal: "The Constitution doesn’t guarantee the right to marry."

No, but it does guarantee the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If marrying someone you love doesn't fall under the category of pursuit of happiness, I'm not sure what does.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

My bad, that would be the Declaration of Independence. Still, is there something wrong with that ideal?

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

Some clauses mentioning religion in the US Constitution:

"...but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;... "

It does not say, "the establishment of religion"; it is not about the government establishing a state religion. It states that the government shall make no law that affects establishments that are religious in nature. So, if marriage is not a religious establishment, why do most people get married in a house of worship?

Early draft:

"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience by in any manner, or on any pretext infringed"

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

Let's face it. Most heterosexuals find the thought of homosexual sex distasteful. The existing laws regarding who can marry whom are not founded on any sort of rational thought; they are nothing more than an embodiment of this distaste the majority has for the wants and desires of the minority.

The people who don't want homosexuals to marry are not against it for any rational reason; they simply don't want to be seen as condoning homosexual sex. Their position is irrational and delusional.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

"The people who don't want homosexuals to marry are not against it for any rational reason; they simply don't want to be seen as condoning homosexual sex."

It is because it is a sin, a transgression of God's law. God, our creator finds it objectionable. So we are in agreement with Him. He made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 2 months ago

There are thousands of gods. Many people pick the god of Abraham, mainly christians, jews and muslims. In any case, no god can be official to determine American public policy. My dog, Loki, is named after a pretty cool one.


UneasyRider 5 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, but your god is not everyone's god. A lot of us either believe in some other God, or maybe don't believe in any mythical being. Hard to believe in there being some mythical all knowing, omnipotent being, whose existence is passed down verbally by nomadic Bedouin tribesmen to only be put into written form hundreds of years later.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

Homosexual behavior is a sin, but so are many other behaviors, such as unforgiveness. It is because of our fallen nature (sin nature) in our human spirit. This sin nature was inherited before you were born. This fallen spiritual heart condition came from Adam because of the sin he committed in the Garden of Eden, when he ate of the fruit of good and evil, against God's law. God the Father, in His mercy, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, has made a way for our human spirit to be recreated (brand new) by the Holy Spirit of God. It is called being spiritually "reborn".

If you believe in your heart that Jesus died on the cross, taking the penalty for your sin and the sin of the whole world, then was buried, then was raised from the dead by the power of God on the 3rd day; then speak this belief out your mouth, you will be saved and "reborn". With the heart, man believes to the point of righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made to salvation. (with your mouth, when you speak believing, your faith becomes effective for you). With this new reborn Spirit, you now are in right standing with God, and no longer have the desire to want to sin from the heart, but rather desire to be in agreement with God's Word. You will naturally want to be accountable to God in your life, because you have been made the righteousness of God, through Jesus' sacrifice and are no longer desiring to follow after sin, which now only is in the flesh, not from your heart. The flesh is not changed until after we die, so we are "dead" to the desires of the flesh, but are alive toward God from the heart and mind and soul. I encourage you to come to God and receive his goodness, not having to live in fear of death any more. He waits for you now.

UneasyRider 5 years, 2 months ago

As noted previously, your belief in some mythical being does not make it a fact. The only thing I truly believe is no religious nutcase know anything as a fact. It is simply a mindless, unthinking belief in a fairy tale. If it makes you happy, fine. Your mindless, unthinking beliefs do not make it a real thing. There is not and can never be a "god" who controls everything and all events.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

God is just, never forcing himself on your personal decision and neither will I. You are of course, free to do as you see fit. But know this, the consequences of your decision will be with you for an eternity. In God is life and light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Without God, the opposite is true. It's your choice.

Alyosha 5 years, 2 months ago

Define "God" as you are using it in this comment. Then we can have a rational discussion.

Chris Golledge 5 years, 2 months ago

So, your religion trumps my religion, and you want government to enforce your religion. Thanks, I rest my case.

In_God_we_trust 5 years, 2 months ago

People with religious views have the same right as you do to express their views, even in government.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

see, now government is supposed to respect the views of the people....ALL Of the people... and one of the fears of the founders was that those of one religion or one view would override what others believed in.... they worked hard to ensure that it didn't.
your religious view should not influence the government... but you can still believe in it.

Alyosha 5 years, 2 months ago

Which "god" are you talking about? And what do you mean by "god"?

Paul R Getto 5 years, 2 months ago

IGWT, you left out, "In my opinion..." Homosexual behavior is a sin....

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

I like the best part..."all men are created equal...." no matter what, you can't get around that part. Its time to put doma to an end.

Alyosha 5 years, 2 months ago

It's truly disturbing for Cal to imply that the only thing keeping him from committing evil acts is that a book tells him not to -- "the rules for living and social order set down in a book found in most motel room drawers."

If the only reason you do good — choose love over hate, good over evil — is because you are told to, your actions are not then of the good: they are of the selfish, since you are only following orders so as not to be punished.

Do good because it is good, not because you fear the consequences of not doing good.

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