Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I write this post not as a partisan, but as an American. The White House should not ever be used as an icon or celebration for any particular political or even social cause or purpose, regardless of our personal belief on the rightness of that cause. It just shouldn't.

There are many reasons.

First there's whose house it is. It's the people's House which we happily and proudly present to every President to conduct his solemn business of leading our nation and for the protection, enjoyment, and relaxation of his family. It is not one person’s, administration’s, or particular group’s house to proclaim his or their particular views on any topic of social or public policy.

Second there's the nature of that great House itself. It is in itself—with no need for help or added flourish—a powerful icon of our nation and all it stands for. If you are proud of what happened on Friday, the White House itself, as well as the dignity of the Court's building, represents that simply because of the kind of government system each stands for. It's physicality and nobility should not be enlisted and used for other purposes. It is not a bumper sticker, banner, billboard, placard, or t-shirt and should not be used as one. This House is not our governmental equivalent of a google doodle.

This is not only true of the physical structure at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave itself, but its representation as well, such as in Monday's icon on the White House's twitter account.

Indeed, the White House is not to be used in such a way even when that purpose can be celebrated by all citizens.

  • It would not be proper to light up the White House in the colors of our nation's flag when we celebrate our nation's birthday later this week. (It inherently represents what is great about our country and nearly everyone who see it for the first time feels that very reality.)
  • It would be improper to flood it in pink hues to call us all to Breast Cancer Awareness.
  • It would be improper to use the nobility of the White House to celebrate if Congress passed a law that would wipe out our nation's hunger problem without adding a cent to our national debt.
  • It would be wrong to illuminate it to remind us all of Missing Children Day (May 25th, by the way).
  • It would not be proper to celebrate a cure for cancer.

You get my drift. Sending messages about such things is just not what the People's House is for. But those are each issues of good taste and propriety.

Last, it should certainly not be used to praise and celebrate any public policy issue that is so clearly divisive to our nation's populace, regardless of what that issue is and how righteous its celebrants believe its virtue. There will always be serious Americans who oppose any public policy change for serious and well-intentioned reasons. To treat their small bit of ownership of that house in that way is at best un-neighborly and insensitive and at worst, is a naked bid to rub their face in it.

Celebrate Friday's decision and do so wildly if you are inclined. But don't enlist the White House itself in that celebration. It's simply not what it's for.

Glenn T. Stanton is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family and the author of five books on various aspects of the family. His two most recent books are Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor and The Family Project.

More on: America

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles