Marriage is not a civil right

MassEquility, a coalition of groups opposing the proposed marriage amendment, has launched a media campaign in advance of the constitutional convention scheduled for June 14.

The theme is “It’s wrong to vote on rights.” The underlying message is that since two people with homosexual orientation may love each other, they have the right to marriage.

First, we note that the very premise of the campaign is ludicrous. Let us not forget that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were ratified through the votes of state legislatures. The very statement “It’s wrong to vote on rights” flies in the face of our entire system of government.

More importantly, however, marriage is not a right. Even civil marriage is a very restrictive contract that provides benefits for certain people expected to contribute to society in a particular way -- procreating and raising children.

But even that is restricted for the good of society. A mother does not have the right to marry her son. Siblings cannot marry. Married persons cannot marry again without first obtaining a divorce.

There is no civil right to marry anyone, at any time.

The consequences of separating marriage from procreation and redefining it as a civil right are far-reaching and catastrophic for the institution of marriage and for society at large.

Once marriage becomes a personal right, the institution of marriage fades. It is only a matter of time before polygamy, polyandry, incestuous relations and all other manner of partnerships will be accepted as marriage. And why shouldn’t they be? After all, those engaged in those relationships will surely claim they are as much “loving partners” as anyone else and that they deserve to have their relationships legally recognized.

Another very real consequence of the judicial decision that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004 is the presumption that all sexual lifestyles are equal. If gay couples can marry, the obvious conclusion -- already evident by recent court decisions -- is that schools should teach that homosexual behavior is fully equivalent to heterosexual behavior. Children will have to learn, as they already are in some school districts, that all lifestyle choices are equal.

Is that what you want for your children and grandchildren? If not, please let your voice be heard before June 14. If your legislator voted in favor of the ballot petition, express your thanks and let he or she know how much you appreciate a commitment to the defense of marriage in the face of immense pressure. If, however, your legislator’s prior vote was against the amendment, let he or she know that the people of Massachusetts have the right to have a say in the definition of marriage. It’s down to the wire. The time to act is now.