The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week on two high-profile cases: one pertaining to California’s Proposition 8 and one concerning the Defense of Marriage Act.
Defenders and opponents of redefining marriage will be paying close attention to the proceedings, as the outcome of both cases will have a profound impact not only on the limits of our constitution and how we understand federalism but on how we understand marriage as well.
10 years ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that denying homosexual individuals the right to marry was unconstitutional. It said that by not allowing them to get married, the state was essentially treating homosexual individuals as “second class citizens.”
Since then, advocates of redefining marriage have argued that Massachusetts serves as a case study that proves same-sex marriage is not as ominous as defenders of traditional marriage say it is.
To support their argument, gay rights activists point to the fact that religious institutions in the state are still operating, that children are being placed in loving homes with two parents as opposed to being wards of the state, and that all people are equally protected under the law.
Inasmuch as some people view Massachusetts as an ideal place to live, it’s ludicrous to think the effects of redefining a societal building block like marriage would be fully realized after only a decade. Indeed, the effects of gay marriage are far-reaching, and will eventually permeate every aspect of society.
When you redefine marriage so that gender is irrelevant, as is the case with gay marriage, you undermine the concept of gender all together. What ends up happening is that gender comes to be understood as a malleable component of human nature. A mere social construct if you will. A construct that must be done away with or redefined in order to “liberate” those who do not fit traditional gender stereotypes. In other words, reconstructing an institution like marriage along gender-neutral lines requires other civil institutions to do the same.
And that’s exactly what the state of Massachusetts is currently attempting to do.
Mary Rice Hasson from the Ethics and Public Policy Center has more. In an essay titled “Will ‘Transgender’ Rights Drive Catholics out of Public Schools?” Hasson writes the following:
The Massachusetts Board of Education (MBOE) recently issued formal ‘guidance’ to the state’s public schools, telling them how to implement new laws protecting against gender identity discrimination. The Board of Education insists that schools must not only provide equal access to educational activities programs but also proactively ‘create a culture’ that would make gender-nonconforming and transgender kids ‘feel safe, supported, and fully included.’
Among other things, the MBOE’s ruling grants transgendered students the right to use any locker room or bathroom they want. It does away with gendered dress codes for dances and graduation. And it eliminates gender requirements for sports teams. Most pernicious of all, however, is that “teachers will now have to ‘work with’ other students who object to the invasion of privacy, [in an effort to help] them overcome their ‘discomfort’ [with gender issues] and embrace the agenda of tolerance.”
Transgendered students will also “have the right to insist on being called by any name or pronoun they choose, regardless of its biological mismatch. And other students must go along with it or face ‘discipline.’”
Hasson goes on to cite other cities and states that have similar laws, but she ultimately concludes that this is an insidious attempt at “indoctrination” that “promotes a view of the human person incompatible with Christianity.”
In my estimation, Hasson is correct.
What this points to is that we are living in a world that is deeply confused. It is confused because its relationship with God is evaporating. We no longer adhere to the notion that there is a natural law or an objective truth. We now assert our own self-worth without acknowledging a higher power of any kind. The speed at which we are breaking away from basic truths about the human person is remarkable, but sadly not surprising or unpredictable. This is what traditional marriage supporters warned about. And it is what they will continue to speak out against in the years to come.