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Jewish World Review / Nov. 25, 1998 / 6 Kislev, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?

THE VERMONT JUDICIARY is poised to rewrite Genesis. It could end up legislating gay marriage not just for its state, but for the entire nation.

Last Wednesday, the Vermont Supreme Court heard oral arguments in State of Vermont and Town of Shelburne versus Nina Beck and Stacy Jolles. Gay rights groups are arguing that a refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the common-benefits clause in the state constitution.

Vermont's hateful refusal to place its seal of approval on the union of Nina and Stacy is as archaic as state laws against interracial marriage were a generation ago, they say.

Vermont is the latest battlefield.

For a while, it looked like liberal Hawaii would be the first state to sanction homosexual nuptials. Its high court held that the state had to show a "compelling interest" in restricting matrimony to men and women (one of each), with the implication that nothing the state said would satisfy the standard.

What activists didn't count on was democracy. On Nov. 3, Hawaiians passed a constitutional amendment (by a vote of 69 percent) defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. At the same time, Alaskans came to the defense of the family by a similar margin.

Californians have gathered 675,000 signatures to put such a measure on the primary ballot in 2000. In all, 27 states have formally rejected gay marriage.

In 1996, Congress overwhelmingly enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, specifying that if one state legalizes gay marriages, others do not have to honor such contracts under the Constitution's full faith and credit clause.

The constitutionality of the law has yet to be tested. The current supreme court, which has ruled that a state's voters can't forestall gay-rights laws, could do almost anything here.

That's why so much depends on what five unelected officials in Montpelier decide. Vermonters can't amend their state constitution before 2002. In the meantime, their supreme court could open the floodgates.

Most homosexuals aren't eagerly awaiting the opportunity to be pelted with rice. The movement craves the legitimacy of government sanction. Then it can say to middle-class, vaguely moralistic Americans: Your unions are no better than ours. We can marry just like you.

Then legal barriers to homosexual adoption will fall. Public-school indoctrination in the movement's mythology will receive new impetus.

The fact that we are forced to defend normalcy -- not to mention nature -- in courts of law is itself a depressing sign of the times.

Since the dawn of history, society has defined marriage in only one way for very good reasons. In marrying, begetting and rearing children, couples are doing civilization's vital work.

In light of the impact of divorce and single-parent families on children, that anyone could question the desirability of a child being raised by a man and a woman is a testament to human credulity.

But if procreation is the essence of marriage, why should sterile couples be allowed to wed, proponents of gay marriage counter.

This misses the point entirely. Sterile couples (or those that use birth control) still engage in a unique physical act that, absent the impediment, could lead to childbearing.

Their relationship is natural, in that nature or God has ordained it to ensure the survival of the species. Even if every physical joining of a man and a woman doesn't result in a conception, marriage recognizes the potential of their union.

Miscegenation laws were intended to protect the "purity" of the white race. Their defenders didn't argue that a racially mixed couple was incapable of procreating. To the contrary, the objection to interracial marriage was based precisely on the couple's ability to have children.

Today, the Catholic Church opposes gay marriage. In 1966, it filed an amicus brief in Loving vs. Virginia arguing that miscegenation laws should be struck down.

Those who would demolish the order of the ages have never answered a fundamental objection: Once the definition of marriage is broadened to include two men or two women, why not extend it further to a threesome or foursome, a brother and sister, a man and a manatee, etc.?

To which gay activists can only sneer that they have no desire to legitimize group marriage, incest and the like.

But all of the arguments offered in support of homosexual marriage (love, a desire to make a commitment and formalize a relationship, the supposed absence of harm to others) apply with equal force to any other coupling imaginable.

The Green Mountain State, known for its splendid vistas and maple syrup, could put the nation into an exceedingly sticky situation.


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9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
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9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
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3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
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2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
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2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
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1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
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1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
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1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
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12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Opdateret d. 23/11/98