Patrick Fagan

The Supreme Court’s first assault on marriage

Patrick Fagan
By Patrick Fagan

March 19, 2013 (thePublicDiscourse.com) - This year, the Supreme Court will render judgment on the institution of marriage. Though most of us don’t realize it, the Court first did so forty-one years ago in Eisenstadt v. Baird, a decision that gravely wounded marriage and set the nation on a course of gradual debilitation by ruling that states could not restrict the sale of contraceptives to unmarried people.

In its forthcoming decision, the Court may give marriage the legal coup de grace. Or it may surprise us, redeem itself, and use the occasion to correct the drift of legal thought on sexuality, marriage, and the rights of children. All three are inextricably linked.

In Eisenstadt, the Court overturned Massachusetts state law and pulled new sexual rights for singles out of a hat—but gave no standing to the child born of pre- or extra-marital sex. The Court played God by redefining the purpose of sexuality. In the process it unleashed sex’s destructive power detached from marriage. The Court could see rights to contraceptives in the “shadow” of the Constitution but could not see what a blind man could: the right of every child to married parents.

Having set chaos in motion in Eisenstadt, the Supreme Court quickly built the garbage bin for dumping sexual debris in Roe v. Wade, which gave a green light to the killing of 55 million unborn children, the overwhelming majority of whom were conceived by those unmarried singles with new access to contraceptives.

Eisenstadt also denied the community its natural rights—demands of the social order—that parents take care of their children in marriage. Since then, the community has been paying to raise children born outside wedlock. The cost comes in the form of welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, supplementary education, costlier child and adult health bills, more prisons, addiction centers, and mental health services. The list goes on and on, now cumulatively and possibly to the tune of trillions of dollars.

When two unmarried people have a child, their commitment to each other becomes more difficult to turn into marriage. The vast majority will break up within the following five years, even if they currently cohabit, leaving the commons to make up the difference—which it can only partially achieve, at best.

Post-Eisenstadt, many social policies were quickly abused as many young women learned how to game the system. Policies such as welfare payments, food stamps, and housing, all designed to help the family and society by subsidizing a mother’s physical needs on a per child basis, ultimately undermine these families by not requiring marriage as a condition of support.

Tragically, at this point in our history, almost all of these children and grandchildren cannot conceive of any other family life except single parenthood combined with serial cohabitation. Instead of intact, married families, we have matriarchal lines of poverty and strain, with men and fathers cast outside, somewhere.

With Eisenstadt, the Court dismissed marriage as the basic institution for begetting and raising children, and in a couple of pages of writing, rendered obsolete the experience of millennia. Prior to that time, those who intended to raise children together were expected by tradition, common sense, and culture to marry first. The law protected these expectations.

The Court also seemed totally unaware that society’s fundamental institutions—family, education, marketplace, government, and religion—are interdependent. This interdependence plays out in the raising of children. They grow quickly to become the actors in each of these realms, and if they come from broken families, they generally bring lessened capacities to these tasks in their own lives and to the institutions involved in the functioning of society.

Thus, in a well-ordered society sex and marriage go together exclusively, because the union of male and female sexual expression must be undertaken in a union that binds them in advance of the coordinated labors needed to raise the children they may bring into the world. To achieve this, a functioning society demands that each citizen channels his sexual capacities in ways appropriate to these two tasks (procreation and child-raising). That is, it demands marriage.

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The core strength needed to do this is chastity, a virtue always necessary but expressed differently at different stages in life—when single, when courting, and when married. Functional societies foster chastity and sanction its violation. But in Eisenstadt, the Supreme Court threw chastity out the window by endorsing premarital sex at a constitutional level.

Another aspect of the decision casts the Court in even worse light. The main architect of the legal strategy to bring this matter to the Supreme Court, and the chief shepherd and amicus curiae for these new political rights for singles, was Planned Parenthood. Most have not perceived this connection, but Planned Parenthood needed this decision to pursue its vision of family planning. It already had funding from Congress, but it needed the Court’s decision to distribute contraceptives to singles. This it quickly did, and in the process gained vast amounts of money, both directly from program funding and indirectly from grants given by foundations tied to the contraception industry. The fruits of its work are today most visible in the old inner cities: multigenerational single-parent families, all beneficiaries of “family” planning.

We are coming up on fourth-generation fatherless families begotten since Eisenstadt, as many inner-city families start when a 16-year-old girl becomes a mother. These families produce boys who have little chance of becoming men. Indeed, each successive generation is less capable than the one preceding it. Worse still, as Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University uncovered in his research, the current norm in their home is a new man in the mother’s bed every 18 months.

The effect of this on the men, the women, and most especially on the children, is at times too awful to contemplate. The fruits are poverty, sexual chaos, sexual abuse, lack of identity with a father, and incapacity to be a man capable not only of marrying, but also of caring for himself or a wife or a family, and the incapacity of the woman to be a wife.

For the children of these multigenerational poor families, the results are grim: unprecedented levels of abuse, both physical and sexual, and ill health, disease, and abandonment of children by their genitors. It is a pity that the Supreme Court cannot be presented with a massive class-action lawsuit by the inner-city poor, because they can easily point to its decision as a main culprit in their poverty and suffering.

In America, the chaos from Eisenstadt must eventually be checked. If not by the Supreme Court and Congress, then by whatever government will follow after the collapse of our present order. Sexual license and republican liberty cannot live together. One of them will supplant the other. Either we become a sexually restrained people—a form of self-control needed for institutions that depend on liberty—or, as we become more and more sexually unrestrained, we will need the all-helping state to do what we won’t be able to do for ourselves and our children.

Today, only 45 percent of American 17-year-olds belong in an intact married family with both birth parents. Fifty-five percent do not: Their parents have rejected them and walked away from each other—whether at their birth, after cohabiting, or through divorce—and the price they pay comes in the form of life-long reduced personal capacities.

Given that our most recent out-of-wedlock birth rate is around 42 percent, and given the cyclical nature of family brokenness, the Index of Family Belonging is guaranteed to deteriorate each year for at least the next seventeen unless a national miracle happens. This would be something on the order of a Great Awakening: not only an awakening to God, but also to the dignity and duties of being male and female, husband and wife, father and mother, and to the child’s inalienable right to the marriage of his biological parents.

With Eisenstadt v. Baird, the Supreme Court rejected the experience of millennia and set in motion the gradual weakening of America. Future generations may rank this as the single most destructive decision in the history of the Court. Will the forthcoming decisions in Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor be ones that rank right alongside it, by delivering a legal coup de grace to marriage? Or will this Court be known for beginning the restoration of sexual and family sanity by preserving and protecting the core of society?

Patrick Fagan is Senior Fellow and Director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council. This article reprinted with permission from The Public Discourse.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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