What are the stakes in the New York state legislature’s upcoming vote on whether or not marriage is between a man and a woman? Via Kathryn Jean Lopez, one state senator offers an answer:
“What we’re about to do is redefine what the American family is,” [Carl] Kruger [of Brooklyn] said. “And that’s a good thing.”
Gay marriage advocates usually prefer to talk about the needs of adults and brush aside those of children, so it’s strange to hear one of them acknowledge that this involves families and not just couples.
Of course, redefining marriage will reshape much more than the family. It will also reorient our law and culture, creating an environment of legal and regulatory hostility against churches and other groups that continue to admit the truth that marriage is necessarily between a man and a woman.
First Things friend Archbishop Timothy Dolan highlights these threats—to the family, church, and community—in a moving plea that lawmakers would do well to heed:
Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America – not in China or North Korea. In those countries, government presumes daily to “redefine” rights, relationships, values, and natural law. There, communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of “family” and “marriage” means.
But, please, not here! Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government, and certain noble values – life, home, family, marriage, children, faith – that are protected, not re-defined, by a state presuming omnipotence.
Please, not here! We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought; we acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a “right.” And, what about other rights, like that of a child to be raised in a family with a mom and a dad?
Our beliefs should not be viewed as discrimination against homosexual people. The Church affirms the basic human rights of gay men and women, and the state has rightly changed many laws to offer these men and women hospital visitation rights, bereavement leave, death benefits, insurance benefits, and the like. This is not about denying rights. It is about upholding a truth about the human condition. Marriage is not simply a mechanism for delivering benefits: It is the union of a man and a woman in a loving, permanent, life-giving union to pro-create children. Please don’t vote to change that. If you do, you are claiming the power to change what is not into what is, simply because you say so. This is false, it is wrong, and it defies logic and common sense.
Yes, I admit, I come at this as a believer, who, along with other citizens of a diversity of creeds believe that God, not Albany, has settled the definition of marriage a long time ago. We believers worry not only about what this new intrusion will do to our common good, but also that we will be coerced to violate our deepest beliefs to accommodate the newest state decree. (If you think this paranoia, just ask believers in Canada and England what’s going on there to justify our apprehensions.)
But I also come at this as an American citizen, who reads our formative principles as limiting government, not unleashing it to tamper with life’s most basic values.