Melanie Baker

What’s at stake in the ‘same-sex marriage’ debate?

Melanie Baker
By Melanie Baker
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The law cannot be divorced from reality, from nature. The moment this happens, law becomes arbitrary, the whim of the ruling power: it becomes tyranny.

Last week, the Maryland Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act by a 25–22 vote. The Maryland House of Delegates had passed the bill on Friday, February 17, by a 71–67 vote, and Governor Martin O’Malley has vowed to sign it. This bill will grant the legal status of marriage to any two non-related consenting adults, irrespective of their sex.

Why is this important, and how does it affect even those who do not live in Maryland? Isn’t it best just to let people do what they want with their lives and leave well enough alone, as long as we are left in peace to do what we want with our lives? That’s a pipedream. This law is a misnomer, and its passage signals the destruction of, not greater protection for, marriage. Let me explain why.

Nature Matters

First, let’s step back from the rhetoric and define our terms. Fundamentally, what defines a marriage? What makes it unique and distinct from all other human relationships? It is the only relationship that naturally leads to the procreation of a child, and, through its stability and mutual commitment, provides the optimal conditions to nurture and educate that child. Same-sex unions cannot achieve this biologically. Two women cannot conceive a child, nor can two men. Therefore, they simply cannot, naturally speaking, be “married,” for their relationship lacks the essential component of fertility. Sexual difference is an essential component of marriage.

Some will claim that homosexual partners raise children just as heterosexual ones do. But again, let’s step aside from the rhetoric and look at facts. Two lesbians who bring a child into the world through artificial insemination still require the male gamete necessary for fertilization to take place. Whether aware of him or not, the child of that lesbian couple actually does have a father. Though same-sex couples may be able to afford the process of artificial insemination or even adoption, their relationship can never naturally produce a child. And this infertility is not due to a defect or flaw in the reproductive system, but is due to nature. This is a primary reason why it is impossible to refer to the union of a same-sex couple as a “marriage,” and to afford it the same rights and privileges. Not only is it impossible, but it is also unjust and arbitrary.

It is because of the unique nature of the marriage relationship that the term “family” cannot be lightly defined. A marriage can only be between a man and a woman; and thus a natural family can only consist of a mother, a father, and the children they conceive. All other families—adoptive families and foster families—are based upon this one. Even the very attempt to give same-sex unions the status of “marriage” and to refer to them as “families” assumes the prior natural institution of the family as its model. Gender is as crucial for marriage as it is for the family that it engenders. Further, children need the complementary love of both a mother and a father. To deny this to children would be far from granting them rights equal to those of children who do have a mother and a father.

A Civil Rights Issue?

Further clouding matters, this has been framed as a civil rights issue. The state, so the argument goes, cannot discriminate against people because of how they choose to have sex; this discrimination is a grave injustice, relegating homosexuals to a second-class citizenship. But if the argument rests solely on personal preference, an appeal cannot be made to a civil right. In other words, the choice of sexual partner does not provide sufficient grounds for the state to formally recognize such a union as a “marriage”; the state’s refusal to recognize a sexual relationship is not tantamount to denying a “civil right.”

A person is more than his sexuality. Sexuality is an essential part of the person, but not the sole defining element of the person. While rightly insisting that their humanity be regarded first and foremost (hence the concern about civil rights), it is actually contradictory for gays and lesbians to follow this up with the accusation that it is discriminatory to deny them the legal status of marriage based on their sexual preference. Their accusation implicitly equates their sexual inclination with their personhood, and takes the denial of legal status to their sexual lifestyle to be a personal judgment against them. It is not a denial of the personhood of gay and lesbian persons to deny their homosexual relationships the legal status of marriage. They are unequivocally persons in fact and under the law, and have all the rights of persons; but their homosexual relationship is denied the legal status of marriage because it lacks the intrinsic element necessary for a marriage: the natural ability to procreate children.

The law cannot be divorced from reality, from nature. The moment this happens, law becomes arbitrary, the whim of the ruling power: it becomes tyranny. The foundations of our very democracy are at stake with this debate, and this affects each and every one of us.

Reason, not Emotion, the Basis of Public Discourse and Law

If Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection Act becomes law, Pandora’s box will be opened. Once the law redefines marriage as the sexual union of any two consenting adults, further modifications will no longer appear alarming: two consenting adults might become two consenting persons (age therefore being eliminated and opening the door to disguised child abuse), or “two” might be deemed an arbitrary number (already there are lawsuits making their way through the courts), thus opening the door for polygamy and polyamory. When the law can be changed so flippantly, it does not inspire confidence in its ability to “protect.” What sort of “freedom” and “protection” will your children, and their children, enjoy in fifty or sixty years at this rate?

Finally, we need to take a good, hard look at the type of discourse surrounding this issue. Rational discourse seeks truth: it employs premises that flow together to yield a sound conclusion. The pathos-laden language that is being employed in this issue is simply not a valid response to rational discourse. Reason must be answered with reason, not emotion. There is an objective truth that continues to shine in the debate, and it is the simple fact of nature: the essential component that sexual difference brings to marriage. This is a fact of nature that can be clearly seen by reason, and it is here, on the plane of reason, that this Act needs to be assessed by law.

That said, the fact that a good number of persons define themselves by their sexual behavior and interpret as a personal judgment the objective and rational refusal to equate their sexual relationship to that of heterosexuals, points to a very real and objective emotional reality. At some level of their personhood, they are asking to be heard, acknowledged, and accepted, and this is a valid human need.

But this emotional need to be heard, understood, and affirmed is separate from the requisite reasons to justify such a momentous legal redefinition of a primordial institution that precedes the state, and the devastating social ramifications that would result from such a redefinition. As a society, we seem to be losing our ability to distinguish these two planes; we are trying to think with our emotions, and the result is to forfeit thinking altogether. How can we have a dialogue with one another if we lose our ability to reason?

If we want to preserve the democracy that stands on self-evident truths as its foundation; if we want to provide our children and grandchildren with the same protection we currently enjoy; and if we want to salvage the remaining bits of rationality essential to a truly diverse and integrated society, we will stand against bills like the Civil Marriage Protection Act. There is too much at stake in these battles, and there is too much to lose by forfeiting common sense in favor of pathos. The elected officials of Maryland have acted against the will of the citizens. If you are a Maryland resident, you can sign a petition to put the issue of marriage up for a referendum, allowing the citizens of Maryland to decide for ourselves.

This article originally appeared on The Public Discourse. Melanie Baker is a Contributing Writer of HLI America, an educational initiative of Human Life International. She writes for the Truth and Charity Forum.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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