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Voting yes on Prop. 102 gives marriage meaning

I have been following the recent debate on campus about Proposition 102 closely.

Though I imagine many of you are nauseated at the prospect of one more column on the topic, allow me to make a rather bold statement:

The crisis over same-sex marriage is not — at its core — about homosexuality at all.

The current question of what marriage is and what its place is in our society has been brewing for decades. Consider the difference between these two views:

Is marriage as the union of one male and one female simply a social construct or antiquated institution? At its worse, is it the legalized prostitution and oppression of women? Is it the latest civil rights issue fueled by bigotry and the heterosexual privilege?

Alternatively, is marriage that unique and complementary union of male and female that has proven most successful over the centuries in rearing healthy children, in adding joy and security to the spouses’ lives and in promoting a free society and limited government?

Which is it? Could it be both? Neither?

These are important questions.

I readily admit that marriage today hardly reflects the perhaps idealized description I gave it above. And yet this is not the fault of homosexuals, as so many who claim to defend family values decry — far from it.

Rather, the state of marriage today is the result of a lack of attention to these questions from both ends of the political spectrum and from all the rest of us in between over the past few decades.

When two people get married in our country currently, we can hope, but we can no longer expect that that two will be married for life.

Nor can we expect that the two parties will be faithful to each other or that children will be among the fruits of their love.

Heterosexuals, take note — we have done a fine number on marriage ourselves. Taking an honest look at the state of marriage today may require us to speak humbly before pointing fingers.

Yet for all the damage that’s been done to marriage, heterosexuals still haven’t managed to redefine the institution itself.

Marriage has changed in important ways over the centuries, but even with such cultural differences, marriage between one man and one woman has been found in every known human society.

Contemporary paleo-anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy suggests that such monogamous pair-bonding may be as uniquely human as walking on two legs.

Why is this? Please consider:

Marriage is our most basic social institution for protecting our children and ensuring the future well-being of society. It exists so that the man and the woman whose sexual love created a child will stay together to cooperatively raise the child.

Children — and societies — benefit when this happens.

Indeed, the social sciences are clear on this point that children do best when raised by their biological mother and father in a low-conflict marriage.

Of course, we know that the ideal doesn’t always happen, but I believe any society that has an interest in perpetuating itself has a vested interest — and a responsibility — to uphold and promote the ideal.

With the exceptions of a few states, our current government does not allow two persons of the same sex to marry. However, the government also does not allow three persons or two closely related persons to marry.

Once we move away from a notion of marriage and the idea that gender matters, what rational defense can a government give for continuing to outlaw such incestuous or polygamous unions?

I contend that if the fundamental meaning of marriage changes, then it is well on its way to becoming meaningless.

For this reason, I urge you to vote yes on Proposition 102.

Andrea believes that every child has the right to know and love both its mother and father. Contact her at

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