Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the Sanctity of Marriage – a simple proposal

Recently the citizens of California passed a lofty ballot initiative which officially "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." The entirety of the text added to the constitution is: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." This elegant constitutional amendment was both reasonable and necessary to preserve the sanctity of marriage and to protect the very reason for the coming together of two people in this most special covenant; the rearing and protection of the children resulting from this bond that is so necessary to preserve and protect the wellbeing, the very foundation, of our civilized society.

I fear that, while Proposition 8 certainly made great strides, we did not go far enough.

It has been proven time and again that families, whose children are raised by a married man and woman, have the best chance of producing healthy, productive, and well-adjusted children. Parents who sacrifice to provide a safe and secure home, regardless of economic conditions, unfailingly instill higher moral values essential for a cohesive society, as it strives to attain our highest collective ideals. Conversely, long-standing statistics prove that, with increases in the incidence of divorce, so too are there increases in violence engaged upon and among our very young; further, they lack the ability to achieve the foundation of a sound education (as expressed by a 33% high school drop-out rate today resulting in increased life-long challenges culminating in a death six years earlier than graduates); and finally, and perhaps most alarming, our children suffer from ever-increasing involvement in illegal activities and at ever-younger ages. These are not trends – they are hard statistics proven out over decades and correlate directly with the incidence of divorce among parents.

The very foundation of our society has been fractured and unless we act boldly to shore it up I fear that it will deteriorate even further and we will have failed those whom we attest to care for most.

I propose a simple solution: remove the incentive for divorce and therefore the underlying destruction to our society by adding just two words to the definition of marriage. The right and proper definition of marriage: "Only the first marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

This simple modification achieves several goals. 1.) It removes the incentive to divorce. If the current revolving-door of marriage is eliminated then couples will strive ever harder to work together for the benefit of their children; 2.) Provided we have retained the basis for a just and moral society, and when people understand that there is no possibility for re-marriage, then they will act responsibly, thus, the incidence of additional out-of-wedlock children will certainly be reduced; 3.) There are significant socio-economic benefits to two-parent households providing financial support – the stabilizing impact combined with the combined contributions of both parents would significantly reduce financial burdens now borne by society at large.

Understanding that there will be some incidents wherein a marriage simply cannot be saved, the parties must be offered a means of engaging in future contractual obligation. To overcome this legal hurdle any person once-divorced shall be eligible to engage in a Domestic Partner contract, however, these civil contracts shall not be recognized as a marriage and therefore shall not be eligible to receive any favorable protections or benefits (such as tax and child care considerations) afforded married partners. This concession provides a necessary method for dealing with contractual obligations without providing an economic incentive to the divorcee and foregoes additional costs to society.

Finally, recognizing that we have proceeded down the slippery slope of marriage denigration for far too long we must engage protective measures if we are to see this measure succeed. While we as Americans strive to recognize the inalienable rights of our citizenry, there are time-honored incidences wherein we deem certain classes of persons who must, regrettably and temporarily, be disregarded in order to protect the majority. An example of this is society’s prohibition on allowing convicted felons the ability to vote. We needn’t re-hash this necessary and well-established practice. Therefore, at least for the purpose of judging the merits of this measure, we must necessarily preclude those who have suffered divorce from deciding the future of this initiative. To do otherwise would allow those who have violated the sanctity of this most precious privilege a direct voice in determining the future health of our very civilization. While it is regrettable, I fear this safeguard is the only truly fair means of deciding whether we advance in the 21st century; the alternative is a tragedy that can be, and indeed must be, avoided.

There will undoubtedly be those who disagree with this proposal, however, Proposition 8 has taught us how to deal with those who considered themselves previously “married” but who did not fully embrace and honor the true sanctity of marriage. Just as we simply set aside the homosexual "marriages" we can use the same principle to overcome other dishonorable marriages. This solution is also elegant because it alleviated the potential impact to our court system and will undoubtedly also help us realize significant revenue streams and/or cost savings for our troubled governmental coffers. Frankly, this method was so readily embraced by the electorate on November 4th that we should feel confident advancing the cause of a truly just society striving to embrace natural law.

I hope we have the courage to overcome whatever petty disagreements we might otherwise hold to advance this most worthy cause.