Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Intrinsic Good: Why All Conservatives Should Be Rallying Around Same-Sex Marriage

by Nomad

You would probably never consider the Supreme Court decision against same-same marriage bans to be a great victory for the conservatives. And yet, that's exactly what it was. They just refuse to admit it.

The Friends of the Court
The term, AMICI CURIAE, in Latin means the "friends of the court." These are respected citizens who offer fact-based evidence  as well as reasoned advice to the Supreme Court judges. This assistance is unquestionably a great asset to the justices.when they are tasked with difficult rulings. 

Such consultants are also failsafe against making judicial blunders. In theory, the more input from varied sources is given, the more balanced and well-thought out that decision will be.  
The group is normally made up "social and political conservatives, moderates, and libertarians from diverse backgrounds."

One look at the list of participants would reveal the truth about Senator Ted Cruz's ridiculous charge that the “tragic” Supreme Court decisions were a case of "judicial activism." In the case of the same sex marriage ban ruling, the group came from all walks of life.   
Many have served as elected or appointed officeholders in various Presidential administrations, as governors, mayors, and other officeholders in States and cities across the Nation, as members of Congress, as ambassadors, as military officers, as officials in political campaigns and political parties, and as advocates and activists for various political and social causes.
To claim this group of around 280 men and women from such varied political and social backgrounds could have an activist agenda is preposterous in the extreme.

When the SCOTUS was reviewing the constitutionality of state-level same sex marriage bans, the Amici dutifully reviewed as much information as it could find on the legality of same sex bans. Around 55 court cases were referenced and 19 authoritative texts were also consulted before they reached their conclusions.

The counsels, in addition, reviewed the constitutional and statutory provision with care. Due to the importance of the case and the ramifications of the decision, the amicus brief not a hastily drawn-up brief.

One look at the list of the friends of the court reveals the fallacy of Senator Ted Cruz's ridiculous charge that the “tragic” Supreme Court decisions were a case of "judicial activism."
Many have served as elected or appointed officeholders in various Presidential administrations, as governors, mayors, and other officeholders in States and cities across the Nation, as members of Congress, as ambassadors, as military officers, as officials in political campaigns and political parties, and as advocates and activists for various political and social causes.
To claim this group of around 280 men and women from such varied political and social backgrounds could have an activist agenda is preposterous in the extreme. It is both reproachable and misleading.
The conclusion the amicus curiae came to, after the intense review of the matter, is in many respects, amazing piece of reasoning. 

In Defense of Conservative Values
When it came to same-sex marriage, the Amici brief actually supported the traditional conservative values. Only not in the way one would immediately expect. 
There was much more to that statement. It supported the true conservative value of the importance of stable families, "as well as the commitment to limited government and the protection of individual freedom."

Conservative values, they agreed, were not only consistent with same-sex marriage rights, they were in fact advanced by them.

According to the Amici document that guided the high court's June 2015 decision, whenever the government, either through legislation or judicial decisions, acts on matters that may affect individual freedom regarding the family or raising children, there should be one overriding principle. No conservative and no liberal would disagree with that.

The law of the land should attempt to promote family-supportive values, such as fidelity, responsibility, commitment and the stability of the home. Anything contrary to that should be avoided. That is the essence of a conservative approach.

The counsel for the high court noted that when it came to marriage,  there has long been talk about the "deleterious impact" caused by the breakdown of the family. 
There has been calls for more Americans to choose to participate in the institution of marriage from all quarters. 
And yet, the amici brief points out, bans on same-sex marriage deny each member of an entire class of American citizens "the right to marry the person he or she loves. In doing so, the laws discourage those particular and important values that the government should be upholding namely, responsibility, fidelity, and commitment."

Furthermore, the court argued, the laws cause secondary harm by stigmatizing children and by "denying them and their loving parents the basic legal protections that provide stability and security so critical to child-rearing."

Amici did not therefore believe there was a "legitimate, fact-based justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage." 
The benefits to society outweighed the opposing arguements.
Amici thus do not believe that any “reasonable support in fact” exists for arguments that allowing same-sex couples to join in civil marriage will damage or distort the institution, jeopardize children, or cause any other social ills.
On the contrary, facts and evidence, the brief said, show that permitting civil marriage for same-sex couples will enhance the institution, protect children, and benefit society generally."

Banning marriage for same-sex couples, in contrast, undermined these critical societal goals: 
Such bans impede family formation, harm children, and discourage fidelity, responsibility, and stability.
By ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage rights, the laws would be underwriting a clear endorsement of the multiple benefits of marriage. Things like stability, lifetime commitment, and financial support during crisis and old age "and, the friends of the court pointed out, "a reaffirmation of the social value of this institution for all committed couples and their families." 

Isn't that what conservatives have long claimed as their goals?

The Intrinsic Good 
The importance of marriage to society is a compelling argument that right wing conservatives have strongly supported. 

In 2003, Rick Santorum delivered a speech entitled "The Necessity of Marriage." In that speech,  he called marriage  "the foundation of any healthy society." There was, he said, "an intrinsic good" in the institution of marriage that politicians must recognize and encourage.
In its essence, marriage is a selfless act. It is the act of giving oneself to somebody else and becoming one.... And since the essence of marriage is selflessness in a self-centered society, it faces opposition from today's popular culture. Marriage promotes the common good by building families and raising children... There is no question that marriage is good for society: Children, women, and men all benefit enormously.
Santorum enumerated all of the benefits to marriage to children. There is, he said, a wealth of evidence that shows that children living in a two-parent home are better off than those in a single parent home.
They are 44 percent less likely to be physically abused, 47 percent less likely to suffer physical neglect, 43 percent less likely to suffer emotional neglect, and 55 percent less likely to suffer some form of child abuse.
Those living with their two married parents through age 16 have higher grades, higher college aspirations, and better attendance records than children in one-parent families or who experience family disruption. They also are half as likely to drop out of high school.
But, he said, there were more things to consider.
Furthermore, children in two-parent homes are less than half as likely as children in single-parent families to have emotional or behavioral problems. And children who live with biological or adoptive parents are about a third as likely as those living with single parents to use illegal drugs, tobacco, or alcohol. In addition, boys raised with two parents are about half as likely to commit a crime leading to incarceration by their early 30s.
Clearly, the research shows that marriage helps children do better on every level, and that is exactly why the government should encourage healthy marriages.
And yet despite all of these advantages people like Santorum claim the institution of marriage offers, he and other would in the next breath, legally deny those very same advantages to children of gay parents.

Santorum concludes his speech with this:
We need to promote and protect marriage to secure a healthier society. Therefore, the public policy implications are clear: The government must promote marriage as a fundamental societal benefit.
Marriage was under such a threat that it actually needed a special constitutional amendment to defend it.
President George W. Bush understands the necessity of marriage and has said he will support an amendment to the Constitution that defends marriage against the threats from the cultural breakdown. Marriage must remain the standard for family life in the society.
Both for its intrinsic good and for its benefits for society, we need marriage. And just as important, we need public leaders to communicate to the American public why it is necessary.
And, as a form of leadership, the Supreme Court eventually agreed with Santorum. So much so that it ruled that marriage offers such a lot of this intrinsic good must not be hoarded by one class of citizen over another. 
Every citizen should be allowed to share in the social benefits that Santorum talked about. To advocate anything less would be pure selfishness.
For the good of children and for the larger good of society, the courts ruled, same-sex marriages should not be banned. By opening up the definition of marriage to be more inclusive to same-sex couple, we allow these benefits for society to be share more equally.  

Sudden Reversal 
The American public overall tended to agree instinctively with the courts verdict. Based on polling in 2015, a majority of Americans (55%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who oppose it. 

A full 82% of those who are not affiliated with a religious faith support same-sex marriage. For people born after 1981, those numbers soar up to 70% and among Catholics and white mainline Protestants, roughly six-in-ten now express support for same-sex marriage. 

The most surprising part of that breakdown is how comparatively small - 30%- has been the support from conservatives.   Considering the positive effects same-sex marriage must have on society, you'd think there would be a nationwide celebration. 

In August of this year, Rick Santorum was comparing that the Supreme Court decısıon which made same sex marrıage a constıtutıonal rıght to the Dred Scott Decısıon which supported the institution of slavery. He stated that the SCOTUS ruling "not a work of legal scholarship."

Santorum went on to charge that the court had overstepped its bounds and should be held accountable.

It's such a peculiar thing to say when the courts simply concurred with the ideas that Santorum himself had earlier promoted so vigorously. It was Santorum who was rejecting a purely conservative view, in fact.

This was something that candidates Cruz, Huckabee and Santorum refuse to accept. In typical hyperbolic style Mike Huckabee said
“Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected justices the power to make law as well as enforce it.”
It's called the Supreme Court and it is one-third of the government.
Marco Rubio, another Republican candidate, also claimed that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds.
There is no federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. There isn't such a right. You have to have a ridiculous reading of the U.S. Constitution to reach the conclusion that people have a right to marry someone of the same sex."
Actually the court ruled that the government didn't have the legitimate right to ban same-sex marriage. That's slightly different and Rubio knows it. He chose to ignore the Equal Protection Clause is part of the 14th Amendment which demands a state provides compelling reasons to withdraw liberties from individuals. States do not have the right to discriminate without a clear citation of harm to society. 

Although red states legislators and right wing candidates may not like the idea of same-sex marriage, the court could find no fact-based evidence to show that actual harm was caused. 
The facts, said the amici brief, do not support any of the putative rationales for marriage bans.

When the possibility that their idea of marriage might have to include both straight and gay citizens, conservatives backed away from full support of the institution. When marriage could more fully encompass all levels and aspects of American society. these marriage proponents suddenly reversed their previous claims about the benefits of marriage. 

That's when the necessity of  marriage was not as pressing, It was no longer important to encourage more people to marry and, as Santorum said, resist widespread selfishness of our self-centered society.