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Sexual assaults in the military: porn is part of the problem

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June 21, 2013 (thePublicDiscourse) - It is bad enough when high-ranking military officers are arrested for sexual assault, including instructors who have assaulted trainees. It is almost unthinkable that two military members recently arrested happened to be in charge of or were associated with sexual assault prevention programs for their respective services. It is not hyperbole to say that the US military is in a sexual assault crisis not seen since the Navy’s Tailhook scandal.

To extract itself from this sexual assault wash cycle, the Air Force, in which we serve, along with other branches of the military, must take swift action to recognize many of the underlying behaviors that lead to sexual assault and warn its Airmen accordingly. Specifically, it is imperative that the Air Force recognize the direct link between sexual assaults and the elevated amount of pornography consumption in its ranks. Pornography has become the new drug of many Airmen, and the service must help its members deal with this addictive new health hazard.

Members of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGs) can help solve this problem and provide insight from their unique perspective on military duty. Military legal offices work closely with the military commanders to help maintain good order and discipline, and as a result, get to see the “ugly side” of the military services. Daily, they conduct investigations of and prosecute crimes committed by military members. JAGs also provide free legal advice to service members on a whole range of issues such as divorce, which offers JAGs another window into the causes of common personal problems. Many JAGs also gain rare insight into the root causes of crimes like sexual assault committed by Airmen.

The military’s sexual assault problem is grim, but unfortunately, the current Air Force sexual assault prevention training, although well-intended, is not cutting the mustard. A brief anecdote might help illuminate the issue.

The thermonuclear missile base, Francis. E. Warren Air Force Base, is located on the windswept grassy plains of eastern Wyoming. A few years back, the base was struck by a rash of child pornography cases among its ranks. Numerous Airmen were prosecuted for possession of child pornography after local authorities discovered that they had downloaded images and videos from file sharing websites. The legal office spent years prosecuting these tragic cases.

To stop the bleeding, JAGs fanned out across the base to warn Airmen about how to avoid child pornography. For the most part, the JAGs simply advised them to  be cautious in which websites they visit.

Tragically, they often failed to advise them to stay away from the highly addictive, legal, adult online pornography, which in nearly every case preceded the descent into the seedy world of child pornography. Unsurprisingly, child pornography crime still occurs at F. E. Warren and many other bases. Regrettably, the Air Force is still not warning its Airmen of the dangers to their lives and careers associated with frequent consumption of legal adult pornography.

Better training is needed now more than ever because the military’s sexual assault problem is grim. According to a recent Department of Defense study, 26,000 military members reported being a victim of some type of sexual assault last year. This number is up from 19,300 reports in 2010. The sexual assault statistics in the Air Force alone are no better. The preliminary figures for 2012 reveal almost 800 reported cases, which is a 30 percent increase. The Pentagon recently admitted that sexual assault within the military is a “persistent problem,” and that the services need to do more to prevent them.

Current sexual assault prevention training can best be described as changing conditions without changing people. This is a recipe for failure. A 2012 Joint Chiefs of Staff Strategic Direction letter on sexual assault prevention and response confirmed that the current training falls short of being effective and stressed that reducing high-risk behaviors and personal vulnerabilities associated with sexual assault must become part of the training. Current Air Force training does not address these types of behaviors and root causes, such as pornography consumption, that lead to sex crimes.

One out of ten in the general civilian population is addicted to internet pornography. Pornographic consumption and addiction are believed to be much higher in the military, though, because of the largely young male population and frequent deployments.

In fact, in an interview with the Army Times, Navy Lt. Michael Howard, a licensed therapist and military chaplain, believes that at least 20 percent of the military is addicted to online pornography. The common theme among many military chaplains is that addiction to internet pornography is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, personal problem facing our military members today.

It is not uncommon for military members to come home from a deployment addicted to pornography. Military spouses often complain about these devastating addictions post-deployment.

The military’s pornography problem continually grabs news headlines. An Army Colonel stationed at the Army War College in Pennsylvania was recently arrested for possessing more than 10,000 images of suspected child pornography on his personal laptop. In 2006, seven paratroopers from the famed 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were caught appearing on a gay pornographic website.

In August 2012, the chief of the Defense Missile Agency was forced to issue a warning to its employees to stop accessing pornographic images from their government computers and to stop sending pornography through their network e-mails.

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Mark Welsh, recognized this pornography problem and recently ordered all Air Force bases to remove all sexually explicit images from work areas. Countless pornographic images were found and removed. In addition, the Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, recently ordered a similar inspection to be conducted at all military bases.

Although it is an issue that some still try to debate, mounting research shows that legal adult pornography is dangerous, especially the highly addictive internet pornography available at all times and on nearly every communication device. Research also shows a direct link between pornography consumption and the commission of sex crimes. In fact, in a recent interview, General Welsh alluded to the link between pornographic images adorning walls and a culture of sexual assault.

Like many JAGs, civilian prosecutors have also learned from their cases that pornography consumption can create and feed deviant and dangerous behaviors. The infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, who raped and killed thirty-six to fifty young women and girls, placed much of the blame for his actions on pornography just before he was executed in 1989, saying:

In the beginning, it [pornography] fuels this kind of thought process . . . Like an addiction, you keep craving something that is harder, harder, something which gives you a greater sense of excitement—until you reach a point where the pornography only goes so far, you reach that jumping-off point where you begin to wonder if maybe actually doing it would give you that which is beyond just reading or looking at it.

Another infamous serial killer, Arthur Gary Bishop, who was executed in 1983 for sodomizing and killing five young boys, stated that “pornography was not the only negative influence in my life, but its effect on me was devastating . . . pornography was a determining factor in my downfall.”

Further, many years before the creation of the Internet, J. Edgar Hoover, former director of the FBI, described pornography’s influence on sex crimes: “What we do know is that an overwhelmingly large number of cases of sex crimes is associated with pornography. We know that sex criminals read it and are clearly influenced by it . . . I believe pornography is a major source of sex violence. . . .”

Pornography is effective at shaping both beliefs and behaviors about sex. Pornography poses such a danger not only because it assaults a human being’s emotional psyche, but also because it causes physical addictions similar to hard drugs. Consequently, research shows that most people who commit a sex crime regularly view pornography.

According to Robert Weiss, director of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, “Online porn is to sex addiction what crack cocaine is to drug addiction.” As detailed in the Army Times, a brain scan of a sex addict looks the same as the scan of someone who has just used cocaine. As the brain receives the pornographic images it releases adrenaline into the bloodstream, increasing the heart rate and causing sweaty palms and dilation of the eyes. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus secrete endorphins to produce dopamine, which opens up the pleasure centers of the brain; and too much dopamine is what actually causes the addiction.

Several studies  have shown that all persons, normal and unbalanced, who view pornography develop a craving for more deviant materials. Many persons even begin to employ more violent methods in their sexual relations. As with drug users, those who use pornography seek more and more deviant materials to maintain their previous level of sexual arousal.

In 1988, the FBI reported that 81 percent of violent sexual offenders regularly read or viewed violent pornography.  A twenty-year FBI study indicates that 81 percent of sex murderers name pornography as their most significant sexual interest, and police investigators routinely find porn in the homes of sex-crime suspects.

The research detailed above is just the tip of the iceberg documenting the connection between pornography consumption and sex crimes (websites www.pornharms.com and www.fightthenewdrug.com contain a plethora of additional research). Academic research and the documented evidence of law enforcement officials leave little doubt that pornography consumption is a significant motivator of sex crimes. It only makes sense then, that to reduce sexual assaults, the Air Force must work to limit or prevent the consumption of pornography.

Many may scoff at such an approach. They may believe pornography is victimless and in fact can be healthy for their sex lives, or even serve as a cure for loneliness while being away from one’s family. Others may not be convinced of the connection between pornography and deviant behavior because they themselves consume pornography and have no desire to commit a sex crime.

But it would be foolish to ignore the well-documented risks associated with pornography consumption. As with any other highly addictive substance, the prudent course would be to warn our military members about these risks. The military, serving the paternal role it does, already deals with alcohol and narcotic consumption in similar and ordered fashion. Leadership should also take action to help those already addicted to pornography before their lives or careers (or the lives of others) are ruined by this addiction. The Air Force specifically already has many resources in place at the base clinic, base chaplaincy, and base legal offices, among other places, to help Airmen escape pornography addiction. Additional training for commanders would be in order to educate them on this problem so they can engage with their units.

The time is now to begin this anti-pornography training campaign before more of our heroes are lost to this dangerous drug.

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Ken Artz is an active duty Major in the United States Air Force and member of the United States Air Force JAG Corps, and is currently serving as a 2012-2013 Air Force Strategic Policy Fellow in Washington, DC. Peter J. Smyczek is a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserves and is attached as an IMA to the 42nd ABW Legal Office, Maxwell AFB, AL. As a civilian, he serves as a Prosecutor with the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Alabama.

Disclaimer: The Authors have no intention of promulgating Department of Defense or Department of the Air Force policy. The opinions and conclusions expressed in this publication are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Judge Advocate General, The Judge Advocate General’s Corps, the State of Alabama, or any other department or agency of the U.S. Government.

Reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Banning reparative therapy for gay minors is ‘a form of child abuse’: former homosexual (Video)

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By Ben Johnson

SPRINGFIELD, IL, February 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Not only would Illinois legislators not be protecting children by enacting a ban on “conversion therapy,” they would be engaging in “a form of child abuse,” according to a man who left the homosexual lifestyle three decades ago.

Stephen Black of the Restored Hope Network told the Illinois Family Institute that reparative therapy helps minors who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction.

While opponents have said that psychological counseling to reduce sexual attraction violates truth in advertising laws and borders on torture, Black described it as little more than “pastoral care for people who want to come out of homosexuality.”

The Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act (H.B. 217), introduced by Democratic State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, would ban such therapy for minors, subjecting medical professionals to discipline by the licensing or medical review board.

"It would be tragic not to allow someone to have self-determination," Black said. "It's a form of child abuse."

“You've got a teenager...[who] actually believes the Bible. He finds himself same-sex attracted,” Black said. “In the Bible...the loving thing to do is to repent, to turn away from this type of lifestyle.”

“Now, this legislation is going to come in and keep him from getting the help he wants,” Black said.

He added that such legislation undermines the family, which may wish to steer a child away from homosexuality – with its attendant higher risk of STDs, depression, and suicide.

Legislation such as H.B. 217 says that “government knows best,” according to Black, and “conflicts with religious liberties.”

He finds confirmation in an unlikely source – far-Left Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. As a state senator, Lieu introduced the ban on reparative therapy, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lieu said at the time, “The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill.” Barack Obama endorsed Lieu in his successful race for U.S. Congress in 2014.

Stephen Black says he has benefited from reparative therapy himself. After converting to Christianity, he says he eventually left behind his homosexual attraction.

Today, he's a proud grandpa. And he says other teens should have that same opportunity.

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He knows society is quickly turning its back on traditional moral stands, but he and Restored Hope Network continue to uphold the Biblical standard on all sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage, however unpopular his view.

“It's not politically correct, but it's Biblically correct,” Black said.

The Illinois House rejected a similar ban last April. IFI and Concerned Women for America, among others, have asked citizens to urge elected officials to oppose the bill.  

(Story continues following video.)

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Mark Regnerus

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New research on same-sex households reveals kids do best with mom and dad

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By Mark Regnerus

February 27, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- A new study published in the February 2015 issue of the British Journal of Education, Society, and Behavioural Science appears to be the largest yet on the matter of same-sex households and children’s emotional outcomes. It analyzed 512 children of same-sex parents, drawn from a pool of over 207,000 respondents who participated in the (US) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) at some point between 1997 and 2013.

Results reveal that, on eight out of twelve psychometric measures, the risk of clinical emotional problems, developmental problems, or use of mental health treatment services is nearly double among those with same-sex parents when contrasted with children of opposite-sex parents. The estimate of serious child emotional problems in children with same-sex parents is 17 percent, compared with 7 percent among opposite-sex parents, after adjusting for age, race, gender, and parent’s education and income. Rates of ADHD were higher as well—15.5 compared to 7.1 percent. The same is true for learning disabilities: 14.1 vs. 8 percent.

The study’s author, sociologist Paul Sullins, assessed a variety of different hypotheses about the differences, including comparative residential stability, experience of stigma or bullying, parental emotional problems (6.1 percent among same-sex parents vs. 3.4 percent among opposite-sex ones), and biological attachment. Each of these factors predictably aggravated children’s emotional health, but only the last of these—biological parentage—accounted for nearly all of the variation in emotional problems. While adopted children are at higher risk of emotional problems overall, being adopted did not account for the differences between children in same-sex and opposite-sex households. It’s also worth noting that while being bullied clearly aggravates emotional health, there was no difference in self-reported experience of having been bullied between the children of same-sex and opposite-sex parents.

Vocal critics, soon to emerge, will likely home in on the explanatory mechanism—the fact that two mothers or two fathers can’t possibly both enjoy a biological connection to a child—in suggesting the results of the study reveal nothing of value about same-sex households with children. On the contrary, the study reveals a great deal. Namely, there is no equivalent replacement for the enduring gift to a child that a married biological mother and father offer. It’s no guarantee of success. It’s not always possible. But the odds of emotional struggle at least double without it. Some critics might attribute the emotional health differences to the realities of “adoption by strangers,” but the vast majority of same-sex couples in the NHIS exhibited one parent with a biological relationship with the child.

Even research on “planned” same-sex families—those created using assisted reproductive technology (ART)—reveals the significance of biological ties. Sullins notes such studies

have long recognized that the lack of conjoined biological ties creates unique difficulties and relational stresses. The birth and non-birth mother . . . are subject to competition, rivalry, and jealousy regarding conception and mothering roles that are never faced by conceiving opposite-sex couples, and which, for the children involved, can result in anxiety over their security and identity.

The population-based study pooled over 2,700 same-sex couples, defined as “those persons whose reported spouse or cohabiting partner was of the same sex as themselves.” This is a measure similar to that employed in the US Census, but it has the advantage of clarity about the sexual or romantic nature of the partnership (being sure to exclude those who are simply same-sex roommates). Among these, 582 had children under 18 in the household. A battery of questions was completed by 512 of them.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

This is not the first time the NHIS data have been used to analyze same-sex households and child health. A manuscript presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Population Association of America assessed the same data. Curiously, that manuscript overlooked all emotional health outcomes. Instead, the authors inquired only into a solitary, parent-reported measure of their “perception of the child’s overall health,” a physical well-being proxy that varies only modestly across household types. Hence, the authors readily concluded “no differences.”

I’m not surprised.

This juxtaposition provides a window into the state of the social science of same-sex households with children. Null findings are preferred—and arguably sought—by most scholars and journal editors. Indeed, study results seem to vary by author, not by dataset. It is largely a different approach to the presentation of data that distinguishes those population-based studies hailed by many as proof of “no differences” from those studies denounced by the same people as “junk science.”

In fact, population-based surveys of same-sex households with children all tend to reveal the same thing, regardless of the data source. It’s a testimony to the virtues of random sampling and the vices of relying on nonrandom samples, which Sullins argues—in another published study—fosters “a strong bias resulting in false positive outcomes . . . in recruited samples of same-sex parents.” He’s right. Published research employing the New Family Structures Study (NFSS), the ECLS (Early Childhood Longitudinal Study), the US Census(ACS), the Canadian Census, and now the NHIS all reveal a comparable basic narrative, namely, that children who grow up with a married mother and father fare best at face value.

The real disagreement is seldom over what the data reveal. It’s how scholars present and interpret the data that differs profoundly. You can make the children of same-sex households appear to fare fine (if not better), on average, if you control for a series of documented factors more apt to plague same-sex relationships and households: relationship instability, residential instability, health and emotional challenges, greater economic struggle (among female couples), and—perhaps most significantly—the lack of two biological connections to the child. If you control for these, you will indeed find “no differences” left over. Doing this gives the impression that “the kids are fine” at a time when it is politically expedient to do so.

This analytic tendency reflects a common pattern in social science research to search for ‘‘independent’’ effects of variables, thereby overlooking—or perhaps ignoring—the pathways that explain how social phenomena actually operate in the real world. By way of a helpful comparison, I can state with confidence that after controlling for home ownership, residential instability, single parenthood, and neighborhood employment levels, there is no association between household poverty and child educational achievement. But it would be misleading to say this unless I made it clear that these were the pathways by which poverty hurts educational futures—because we know it does.

The academy so privileges arguments in favor of same-sex marriage and parenting that every view other than resounding support—including research conclusions—has been formally or informally scolded. I should know. The explosive reaction to my 2012 research about parental same-sex relationships and child outcomes demonstrates that far more is at work than seeking answers to empirical research questions. Such reactions call into question thepurpose and relevance of social science. Indeed, at least one sociologist holds that social science is designed “to identify and understand the various underlying causal mechanisms that produce identifiable outcomes and events of interest.” That this has not been the case with the study of same-sex households raises a more basic question.

Is the point of social science to win political arguments? Or is its purpose to better understand social reality?

What to Expect from a Topic Emerging from Its Infancy

One byproduct of better data—or perhaps the smell of impending victory by proponents of civil same-sex marriage in America—may be greater intellectual honesty about such relationships. Indeed, researchers have admitted the tendency to downplay “any inequities between same-sex partners . . . in part because of the dominant mantra that same-sex couples are more equal than different sex couples.”

It’s not the only consequential admission. Scholars are increasingly—and openly—squabbling over the nature of sexual orientation itself, signaling the comparative infancy of the social science here. Moreover, there’s a good deal of sexual identity switching being reported among young adults, a fact that does not comport with a honed narrative of immutability.

So should scholars trust self-reported sexual orientations? If people report something different a few years later, should we attribute this to their malleable sexuality or consider them heterosexual “jokesters” bent on messing with survey administrators? It is profoundly ironic that social scientists make strong social constructionist arguments about nearly everything except sexual orientation.

Stanford demographer Michael Rosenfeld’s survey project How Couples Meet and Stay Together (HCMST) reveals that while only 3 percent of heterosexual married persons reported being “at least sometimes attracted” to persons of a gender other than the gender of their current partner in the past year, the same was true of 20 percent of men in same-sex relationships and 33 percent of women in same-sex relationships. While the malleability of self-identified lesbian women is now taken for granted among social scientists of sexuality, the one-in-five figure among men in gay relationships is higher than most would guess.

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In keeping with the data, expect those robust legal arguments leaning on the immutability of sexual orientation to bleed out within the next five years. Indeed, sociologists have never been fans of such biological essentialism, but have kept their mouths shut out of a sense of political duty to a movement they helped birth. No more.

Social scientists will soon wrestle with, rather than overlook, the elevated levels of poverty among well-educated lesbian women in America (as seen in the ACS, NFSS, NHIS, and HCMST). Until now, scholars predictably elected to employ income as a control variable in their studies of child and adult life outcomes, enabling them to avoid confronting the reasons for the unprecedented negative association of education with income among the population of same-sex female couples. Here again, it’s not been about understanding but about winning political battles.

We will also learn much more about the relationship stability distinctions that are common in the data between gay and straight parents. Unpublished research exploring the stability rates of same-sex and opposite-sex couples using data from yet more population-based surveys finds that claims about thecomparability of same-sex and heterosexual couple stability (again, after a series of controls) are actually limited to couples without children. For couples with children, the dissolution rate for same-sex couples is more than double that of heterosexual couples. What remains unknown yet is whether this difference is an artifact that will disappear with legal marriage rights. I doubt it, given that same-sex relationships are distinctive in other ways, too. But it’s an empirical question.

As it turns out, the NFSS was not unique. It was simply more transparent than most datasets and offered a clearer glimpse into the messy reality of many Americans’ household histories. It did the work social science was intended to do—to richly describe and illuminate—but in so doing invited unprecedented hostility.

On a Thursday morning in late June 2015, Americans will be treated to the Court’s decision about altering an institution as old as recorded human history. But one thing that day will not change is the portrait of same-sex households with children. After a series of population-based data-collection projects, we know what that looks like: a clear step down, on average, from households that unite children with their own mother and father.

Biology matters—as new research released this week confirms—and no amount of legislation, litigation, or cheerleading can alter that. Whether the high court will elect to legally sever the rights of children to the security and benefits of their mother's and father’s home is anyone’s guess.

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute. 

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Michael Stokes Paulsen

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The case for imposing gay ‘marriage’ is remarkably similar to that for slavery. But can the GOP produce a new Abe Lincoln?

Michael Stokes Paulsen
By Michael Stokes Paulsen

February 27, 2015 (ThePublicDiscourse.com) -- No, of course Old Abe never said a lick about same-sex marriage. The idea would have been unheard of in the 1850s—or even the 1950s. The issue of Lincoln’s day was slavery—in particular, the extension of that peculiar institution into federal territories and even into free states. But in connection with the slavery issue, Lincoln had plenty to say about the use and abuse of judicial authority to propagate social policy and about the dangers of judges usurping legislative authority. The man whose birth we honored two weeks ago thus spoke, indirectly, to one of the central controversies of our own era, and to a case pending before the Supreme Court right now.

Lincoln’s specific concern was the expansion of slavery into federal territories, mandated by the Supreme Court’s horrendous decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, in 1857. Lincoln warned of the prospect of a “second Dred Scott” decision following on the heels of the first, mandating the extension of slavery into (formerly) “free” states where the institution of slavery was banned, like Illinois. “We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free,” Lincoln intoned, in the famous House Divided speech launching his (unsuccessful) 1858 campaign for Senate, “and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois slave State.”

The logic of the Dred Scott case, Lincoln argued, would seem to imply that no state could deny recognition to the property rights of slaveholders coming from another state. Dred Scott had held that a right to own slave property, conferred by the laws of a slave state, bound the federal government, in administering federal territories that had not yet become states. Federal law could not ban slavery in the territories, for that would unfairly and unconstitutionally deprive slave-owners of a benefit they had possessed under state law, and thus deny them “due process of law.”

However convoluted and unpersuasive the Court’s reasoning, Lincoln recognized the implications of its logic: if the federal government had to recognize slavery as a result of some states’ laws, how could a free state (like Illinois) deny recognition to slave status conferred by a slave state’s laws (like Missouri’s)?

A House Divided

Lincoln warned that politicians and judges, like builders working according to a common plan, were preparing the framework to make slavery the uniform national rule: “Put that and that together, and we have a nice little niche, which we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a state to exclude slavery within its limits.” And once that had happened, a state could scarcely deny to all citizens of a state the same “constitutional right” to the institution of slavery that it had to recognize to newcomers or travelers from slave states. A case presenting exactly these issues was kicking around in the New York courts, and seemed at the time destined to make it to the US Supreme Court, presenting the perfect opportunity for such a second Dred Scott.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln said, quoting Jesus. Lincoln did not expect the house to fall, but he did expect that “it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” The only way to prevent slavery from becoming the national rule was to resist the decision of the Supreme Court and to seek to prevent its extension—to “meet and overthrow the power of” the “political dynasty” that was seeking to extend slavery to the entire nation.

Lincoln lost that Senate campaign to the incumbent Stephen Douglas, but then beat Douglas in a rematch two years later, this time for the presidency. The rest, as they say, is history: southern states revolted against what they considered a revolting, lawlessly antislavery president; Lincoln considered it his constitutional duty to maintain the Union, faithfully execute the laws, and put down the rebellion; and during a four-year bloody Civil War that tragically claimed 620,000 lives—more than all of America’s other wars combined—Lincoln found it necessary to proclaim the emancipation of slaves held in the states in rebellion. The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery throughout the nation, was proposed by Congress 150 years ago this month, and Lee surrendered to Grant 150 years ago this April. Barely a week after that, Lincoln was killed by an assassin’s bullet—having seen, but never entered, the promised land of a nation free of slavery.

Parallels between Dred Scott and Windsor

So what does all this have to do with same-sex marriage? A lot. Two years ago, in the contrived test case of Windsor v. United States, a bare majority of Supreme Court justices held that a legal status conferred by state law had to be recognized within the federal sphere. The court held that to deny such a status, as federal law did, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

In legal form and substance, the decisions in Windsor and Dred Scott are surprisingly parallel. Windsor involved a same-sex marriage that was recognized by the state of New York but not recognized by the federal government due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Court held that DOMA denied “due process of law” because it withheld federal recognition to a state-law legal status. That is exactly the same thing the Court did in Dred Scott. Instead of marriage, Dred Scott involved the status of slavery, which was recognized by the state of Missouri, but not by federal law in federal territory. Scott’s master, a captain in the army, had taken Scott to Fort Snelling, in the free federal territory of present-day Minnesota. The federal Missouri Compromise of 1820 banned the status of slavery in federal territory north of a designated line. Dred Scott held that the Missouri Compromise denied “due process of law” because it withheld federal recognition to a state-law legal status. That is just what Windsor did with respect to DOMA.

In both Dred Scott and Windsor, the Court’s legal analysis was transparently result-oriented: the justices wanted a particular result, and manipulated the law to reach the outcome they thought preferable as a social-policy matter. In both cases, the majority’s “reasoning” wanders aimlessly before finally settling into the same oft-discredited judicial invention of “substantive due process”—the idea that it is simply morally wrong, or mean, for a democracy to deny a legal right or status conferred under the law of a different jurisdiction. In both cases, the majority opinions were subject to devastating dissents, and they produced greatly divided public reaction. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Dred Scott and Windsor are two peas from the same judicial-activist pod.

A Second Windsor?

Lincoln warned that there could be a “Second Dred Scott” making slavery national. “Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States. Welcome or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming.”

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Could there be a “Second Windsor” making same-sex marriage national?

Quite possibly yes. A case is now pending before the Supreme Court asking whether four states—Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee—acted unconstitutionally by not recognizing the status of same-sex marriages under their laws. Some of the plaintiffs are same-sex partners who were married under the laws of other states before moving to a state not recognizing such status. Other plaintiffs seek simply to be married in their home states, the laws of which limit marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Just as with Dred Scott and slavery, the logic of Windsor does not quite require extension to invalidate the laws of every state that denies same-sex marriage status. But an argument will be made that it does. The reasoning of Windsor is that it was gratuitously and indefensibly mean, and therefore unconstitutional, for the federal government to deny recognition to a same-sex marriage recognized under state law. Just as Lincoln asked with respect to Dred Scott, how likely is it the Court will say that a state can then deny to other state’s citizens, or even to its own, the status of same-sex marriage? “Put that and that together,” as Lincoln said, “and we have another nice little niche” for the next Supreme Court decision.

Same-sex marriage is obviously an entirely different social institution than slavery. Reasonable and honorable people today disagree about whether the traditional view of marriage as a conjugal and intrinsically male-female union should be abandoned for an understanding of marriage as embracing any sexual-romantic bond into which two (or more) people might enter. Nobody today disagrees about slavery.

But that is not the point. The point is that, in the structure and logic of the legal arguments made for judicial imposition of an across-the-board national rule requiring every state to accept the institutions, the two situations appear remarkably similar.

If recent lower court opinions on marriage are any guide, the judicial winds may be blowing on the marriage question in the same direction Lincoln seemed to perceive them blowing on the question of extending slavery into northern states by judicial decree. (Lincoln’s prediction probably would have proved right had he not been elected president.) As with slavery in the 1850s, so too with same-sex marriage in 2015: the house very likely will soon cease to be divided. I wouldn’t want to say it’s inevitable, but it is certainly possible that a Second Windsor is coming.

Will the Republican Party produce another Lincoln to stand against it?

Reprinted with permission from The Witherspoon Institute

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