A Reply to Rep. Daryl Metcalfe

Dear Mr. Metcalfe:

Your information about the history of marriage is far from accurate.
Marriage, as an institution, was first recorded less than 4400 years
ago. It was first created as an economic institution: a way of insuring
that a man's children were actually his and that his wealth, accumlated
over generations, would pass onto a legitimate heir. Marriage has NOT
historically always been between one man and one woman or even between
consenting adults. Until the year 866, women did not even have to
consent to marriage in order to be considered the wife (and therefore
property) of the man she was forced to marry. Even into the 1940s, here
in the US, there were twelve states in which married women were not
legally able to sign a contract by themselves or to own their own
property.

Aside from your misinformation about marriage, you also seem to be
misinformed about the history of the United States of America. You seem
to be laboring under the misconception that the US is a democracy. In
fact, the founding fathers set up our form of government to
specifically prohibit democracy. You see, in a true democracy, the
majority opinion rules. Always. The rights of the minority (any
minority) are subject to the whims and fancies of the majority, which
changes over time. The founding fathers sought to protect individual
freedom: to allow each man to live his life in the manner in which he
saw fit. (That, after all, is what life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness really means when you get right down to it.) So they set up a
constitutional republic in which majority rule was subject to the
limitations set forth in the US Constitution. In the United States,
majority rules only when it does not violate the constitutional rights of even one individual.

Marriage in the United States is a civil contract and civil contracts,
as you may know, are not gender specific unless there is a compelling
reason for it to be so. (For example, a modeling agency that deals with
women's fashion design might have a contract that is specifically
written for women since female clothes are best modeled on female
bodies.) There is no compelling reason for marriage to be a gender
specific contract.

I know! I know! You're going to say that marriage is for procreation
and the raising of children and for that, you require a man and a
woman. Well, you're wrong on both accounts. First, there is no
requirement in the US that marriages, in order to be valid, must result
in the birth of children. We allow couples who are incapable of having
children and those who choose not to have children to marry. Nowhere on
the marriage license does it ask how many children a couple intends to
have. Second, gay couples have at their disposal the same resources
that infertile heterosexual couples have for giving birth: in vitro
fertilization, artificial insemination, adoption, surrogate parents,
etc.

You comment that this amendment is meant “to prevent the courts from
redefining marriage without consent of the people through their vote.”
Again, sir, it is not the right of the majority to impose their will on
the minority. In fact, it is the duty
of the courts to overturn and throw out laws that violate the US
Constitution, regardless of popular support. This doesn't make the
judges of those courts “activist judges”: it only means they're doing
their sworn duty.

Up until 1968, the majority in sixteen states decided that marriage
between blacks and whites was illegal. In Loving v Virginia, the US
Supreme Court overturned these unconstitutional laws and in their
opinion they stated: “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as
one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of
happiness by free man.” While many insist this does not apply to gays,
in the Lawrence v Texas case, where the US Supreme Court overturned
sodomy laws, the courts opinion stated: “[F]or centuries there have
been powerful voices to condemn homosexual activity as immoral. The
condemnation has been shaped by religious beliefs, conceptions of right
and acceptable behavior, and respect for the traditional family…. The
issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce
these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law.
'Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own
moral code.' Planned Parenthood of Southeaster Pa v Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 850 (1992)”

The Fourteenth Amendment provides for equal access to all under the
law. The “full faith and credit” laws are what allows a heterosexual
couple married in one state or even country to move to another state
without remarrying. And yet gay marriages, which are legal in Canada
and Massachusetts (among other places) are not legally recognized in
any other state, in direct violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. How
does this provide equal access under the law?

The concept of marriage as being between only one man and one woman is
a Christian concept. Under the First Amendment, civil laws is not to be
based on the tenets of any one particular faith or even a group of
faiths. Every church in this nation is free to define religious
marriage as they see fit and there are many churches that support gay
marriage. Under current laws, only some of those marriages are
recognized as valid civil marriages. How is that allowing for the free
exercise of faith?

It has been said by many that if we allow gay marriages, then ministers
who disagree with its validity will be forced to marry gay members of
their congregation. This is nothing more than fear-mongering hogwash.
The Catholic Church refuses to marry within the church anyone who has
been divorced, even if they are a member of the congregation. And yet
no one is suing the Catholic Church and demanding they allow them to
marry simply because divorce is legal under civil law.

Finally, Mr. Metcalfe, you overlook probably the most important point
of this whole debate. With or without legal “permission”, with or
without social approval, gays are getting married. And gays are
creating families. My wife and I are raising two teenage sons from my
first marriage, the oldest of whom has just joined the US Air Force.
(Does that qualify him as a contributing member of society in your
eyes?) In fact, the vast majority of gay couples I know have children.
Laws like the misnamed “Pennsylvania Constitutional Marriage Protection
Amendment” and the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” do nothing to
prevent gays from getting married and from creating families, even if
that marriage is not legally recognized. The only things laws like this
do accomplish
is to guarantee that gays and the children of gays will not have the
same legal protections that heterosexuals and their children enjoy.

I invite you, Rep. Metcalfe, to a public debate on the issue. Name the
time and the place and I will be there, armed with information to
counter the inaccuracies that those who are pushing for passage of this
law want the voters of Pennsylvania to believe without question. Armed
with statistics and facts to counter the fear-mongering that underpins
proposed legislation like this.

Love and Light,
Rev. Shelly Strauss Rollison

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