State obligated to make prudential decisions |

State obligated to make prudential decisions

Tim Leslie, 4th District Assemblyman

Recently an article on this page criticized my position regarding same sex unions. I certainly respect each individual’s right to their opinion and ordinarily would not respond to something such as this. However, given what is at stake, I feel compelled to reply.

So-called gay “marriage” is among most pressing issues facing our society. Essentially, what is being weighed in the balance is the the primary value marriage provides to society: the begetting and rearing of children. The happiness of a couple is a key consideration, certainly, but “happiness” produces no definitive benefit for society, whereas the begetting and education of children clearly does.

Indeed, society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage, which is why governments give it the special protection and consideration they do: Traditional matrimony promotes the general welfare.

Furthermore, if the central purpose of government is to promote the general welfare, then the state must always do what is best for society’s health, security, and long-term viability. This requires the state to make certain prudential judgments. For instance, those under 16 cannot drive. Those under 21 cannot drink. You must have a high school diploma to join the military. We make information about paroled child molesters available so parents can protect their children.

Some label these prudential decisions “discrimination,” but discriminating in such matters ultimately helps society. Unique honor and responsibilities are given to marriage with the same thought in mind. Traditional matrimony is the foundation of society, and the State that encourages anything pretending to approximate it does so at its peril.

Again, the reason for this relates to the fact that marriage produces a value for society, namely a stable environment in which to raise children.

Granted, many marriages don’t produce children. Most soldiers don’t face combat and yet are still eligible for veterans benefits. The State rewards each institution based on their providing society with a valuable function. Governments favor historical marriage and seek to strengthen it in its policies because virtually everything that for good or ill happens in society can be traced back to families and family life.

Not only would the ongoing marriage revolution undermine matrimony — and thus society — it would effectively destroy it.

The writer of the article says she doesn’t see how same sex unions threaten marriage, but they do. Marriage is under assault. The marriage rate is at an all-time low. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Annually, over one million children experience divorce, and they will suffer in many ways as a result. More couples are living together outside of marriage, which several studies show leads to an even greater divorce rate.

By granting marriage rights to homosexual couples, society’s attitudes toward marriage will be cheapened to an even greater degree. Instead of being recognized as the crucial, indispensable building block of society — through which most of its benefits flow D marriage will simply be another choice among many. “What’s the big deal about marriage?” our children and grandchildren will ask. In the sixties, that was a fringe sentiment. If gay marriage goes through, it will become the norm.

And when that happens, our society will see already burgeoning social problems explode. Why? Because it will only further encourage marital instability and broken homes, and children growing up in these are more likely to exhibit a variety of anti-social behaviors.

Children growing up in traditional homes, on the other hand, have these problems to a significantly diminished degree. They have better emotional health, engage in fewer risky behaviors, are less likely to practice premarital sex, and do better educationally and economically. Finally, a recent Utah State study found divorce costs U.S. governments $33 billion per year. For all these reasons, the State has a vested interest in promoting stable traditional marriages.

To bolster their argument against the special status of traditional marriage, gay activists point to Vermont and its civil unions and note the sky has not fallen there. However, people said the same thing immediately after the changing of divorce laws, which set in motion forces that would not be evident for 40 years.

Indeed, says one homosexual researcher who opposes same sex marriage, “This new experiment would be unprecedented in human history, and yet we haven’t taken the time to think carefully about possible consequences. Instead, we’ve allowed emotion to sweep aside all other considerations.”

So, while same sex marriage might promote a particular welfare D that of the couple D it would not promote the general welfare, which arises from promoting stable marriages, from which come healthy, balanced children who have all the interior resources necessary to develop into contributing citizens. It is bad for society, and thus should be opposed at all costs. That is not discrimination; rather it is simply common sense.

— Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, is the 4th District Assemblyman

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