Buttigieg, Benson, Rubin, and Marriage

Written by Laurie Higgins

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is not, in reality, married. Talk show host Dave Rubin is not, in reality, married. If or when Fox News contributor and Townhall editor Guy Benson legally marries his male fiancé, he will not, in reality, be married. Buttigieg and Rubin are no more married than Bruce Jenner is a woman.

Marriage, like biological sex, has an immutable, objective nature that the law cannot change. Neither the law nor judicial decisions can change intrinsically non-marital unions into marriages. All legal machinations exploited to create the appearance of change—that is, to create the illusion that non-marital unions are marriages (or that men are women)—are not merely deceptive but also destructive to both individual lives and the public good.

So, what is marriage? Is marriage a thing at all? Does marriage have an ontology—that is to say, a nature—that the government merely recognizes and regulates, or is “marriage” just a word with no inherent meaning that the government may infuse with any fanciful ideas people can imagine? Why is the government involved with marriage? Should it be? Should we care any longer?

Ryan T. Anderson, Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, offers this definition of marriage, which until the latter part of the 20th Century was wholly uncontroversial:

Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children need both a mother and a father. Marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. Marriage has public purposes that transcend its private purposes. 

The claim that “marriage predates the government”—that is to say, it is a pre-political, pre-legal institution—means that neither society nor government invented this thing we call marriage. Rather, society and its government merely recognize and regulate a type of relationship that exists.

In contrast, homosexuals incoherently claim both that marriage has a fixed nature and that it is an ever-changing social construction. First, they argue that marriage is the union of two people of opposite or the same-sex who experience romantic feelings and erotic attraction. That is to say, marriage—in their view—does, indeed, have a nature. But if it has a nature, it cannot be at the same time an essentially formless and ever-changing phenomenon.

If, as homosexuals also claim, marriage is ever-changing and possesses no inherent nature—no stable constituent features—then society can justifiably fashion it into anything. They can re-imagine it as a poly-structure (i.e., multiple-partner marriage); an incestuous structure that allows close relatives to marry; or even an age-diverse, intergenerational non-sexual structure that permits children or teens to “marry” adults.

The first view of marriage that homosexuals concocted admits marriage has a nature but asserts that nature has nothing to do with sexual complementarity or human reproduction. In this view, all that defines marriage is the desire to “marry” and erotic or mutual masturbatory—as distinct from conjugal or sexual—activity. But if reproductive potential, the needs and rights of children, and the sex of partners are arbitrary, irrelevant, and dispensable with regard to marriage, then surely the number of partners, their blood kinship, age, and type of love experienced (e.g., erotic or platonic) are equally arbitrary, socially-constructed, mutable, and dispensable.

Now on to the question of whether there is any compelling government interest in recognizing and regulating marriage, and if there is, what type of union should be recognized as marriage and why?

Why is the government involved with marriage?

Societies and governments have historically recognized and regulated marriage as defined by Anderson above—which I will call true marriage—because they have understood that this type of union has public purposes that are essential to the flourishing of human civilization. It is those essential public purposes that justify and legitimize government involvement.

The sexual union of one male and one female is the natural way children are produced. Children fare best when raised by their biological mother and father. The health and future of any society depend on the production of subsequent generations of well-functioning citizens. The nuclear family is the least intrusive, most efficient, and most effective way of producing such citizens. Therefore, the government has a vested interest in recognizing, regulating, and supporting true marriage. While the subjective affectional contours or companionate aspects of marriage are important to those marrying—that is, love matters to those marrying—such feelings are irrelevant to the government.

Once upon a time, virtually all Americans understood such commonsense claims, but that was before the sexual revolution. Now even some of our conservative cultural leaders have embraced the false idea that marriage is solely a private institution concerned only with and constituted only by subjective feelings of love and erotic desire.

In a recent interview with Joe Rogan, the otherwise wise Ben Shapiro—whom I admire greatly (and whom I recognize is way smarter than me)—expressed views on marriage that reveal the kind of ignorance that increasingly pollutes the GOP:

On a personal level, I’m opposed to same-sex marriage…. When it comes to government involvement, I don’t think that’s anybody’s business. Do I think the government has anything to do with any of those things? No, I don’t, and I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. It’s consensual activity. There are no externalities.

His claim that marriage involves “no externalities” is stunning. If it were true, that marriage involves “no externalities,” then it would be true too that the government should not be involved. If marriage involved no externalities, it would be as irrelevant to the public good as platonic friendships are.

And if Shapiro truly believes marriage is no one’s business, that it’s wholly private, and has “no externalities,” then he should have no problem with lawmakers repealing laws prohibiting plural unions or homosexual siblings from marrying, or with churches and synagogues performing weddings for them.

From there, of course, elementary schools will start teaching about polyamorous and incestuous marriages when teaching about “diverse family structures,” thus exposing some of those pesky “externalities” whose existence Shapiro denies.

It is the “externalities” of marriage on which the future of society depends.

Both governmental abdication of its role in upholding true marriage—which is what Shapiro wants—and governmental transmogrification of true marriage into a sickly, deformed mocking doppelganger born of idolatry and envy are tantamount to mainlining steroids into Big Brother.  Children will suffer, and the behemoth Big Brother will step in to “fix” the societal problems true marriage could have prevented.

It can’t be merely the presence of romantic or erotic desire that make a union a marriage or that justifies government involvement with it, for if it were, Leftists would and should be fighting like the devil to force the government to recognize homosexual unions between siblings as marriages. To Leftists, love is love.

Rather, it is the type of sexual union—the reproductive type—that justifies government recognition and regulation. Why should the government have any more interest in recognizing and regulating naturally sterile homoerotic unions than it does in recognizing and regulating close platonic friendships? What government interest is there in sterile homoeroticism?

Some justify the legal recognition of same-sex unions based on the fact that homosexuals are acquiring and raising children, but that fact alone doesn’t make their relationship a marriage. Two sisters might be raising orphaned children together but that doesn’t require the government to recognize their relationship as a marriage. It is not the mere presence of children that makes a union a marriage.

If marriage has a nature, even state’s rights advocates have it wrong. If marriage has a nature, if there are features that must be present in a union to make it truly marital and without which a union ceases to be, in reality, a marriage, then neither the states nor supremacist judges have a right to jettison them.

I suspect that our Founders and all Americans until the latter half of the latter half of the 20thCentury presumed that marriage has an indisputable, inherent nature central to which is sexual complementarity and without which a union is not and cannot be marital. Therefore, the unspoken assumption would have been that states have the right to tinker with certain peripheral aspects of this thing universally understood as marriage but not to extract from it its sexually-differentiated essence and foundation.

Make no mistake, legalized plural marriage is coming soon. Once the corrosive Obergefelle decision passed in which the high priests and priestesses of the church of anomie proclaimed that marriage has no intrinsic connection to sexual differentiation but, rather, is constituted solely by love, there remained no rational basis for prohibiting the legal recognition of plural unions as marriages. What is the basis for the number two other than the sexual dimorphism of humans?

Will the GOP stand firm for the truth of marriage as America exchanges truth for lies? If Republicans don’t understand what marriage is or why the government is involved in marriage, it’s likely fewer and fewer of them will have the wisdom and courage to stand for this essential public institution. The cracks in our cultural foundation are growing.

Listen to this article read by Laurie:

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