As you probably know by now, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has ruled 5-4 to prohibit the initiative to define marriage in D.C. as between a man and a woman. What this means is that there cannot be a ballot initiative on the issue which would give the residents of the District of Columbia the opportunity to vote in support of marriage being between one man and one woman. Unlike, thirty-onestates in which people were given the opportunity to weigh whether changing any part of the definition of one of the most fundamental constructs of society is the right step to take, judges ruling against the decision write “even if we assume that the people at large are more likely to discriminate against minorities than are their elected representative…there are numerous checks and balances in place to protect against the tyranny of the majority.” This comment led to a lively “water cooler” discussion in the office this morning. My colleagues, Peter Murphy, Director of the Family Life Office and Patty Mazariegos, Coordinator of the Hispanic Family Life ministry were stymied by the use of the word “tyranny.”
I wondered what is the dividing line between the will of the people (31 states with constitutional laws against same-sex marriage, 15 with no legislation and only four with laws allowing same-sex marriage) and “tyranny of the majority?” Peter suggested that it is commonly understood that tyranny is the imposition of something on a people against their will. It is not a tyranny when people have the opportunity to express their opinion (popular or unpopular) through a vote…that is not tyranny but democracy.
What is so frustrating about our work on this issue is that it has yet to be proven how marriage between a man and woman is discrimination; it is a completely different relationship than the relationship between two men or two women. The very gift of the masculine and feminine is at the heart of what it means to give yourself to another in marriage. It is not discrimination to call two different things, different names.
Even though it may not be fashionable, it is time to stand for truth. Marriage is a unique relationship between a man and a woman with potential to give new life. It serves a societal benefit that no other relationship does. Study after study show that having a loving and involved mother and father creates and nurtures the best environment for raising children. Let’s work to support marriage, not re-define it. For information on the church’s teaching and to follow the church’s efforts in supporting and sustaining marriage and family life please see MarriageMatters.
With thanks to Peter Murphy for his help on this post!