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Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2004 / 5 Adar, 5764

David Limbaugh

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"Gay marriage" is not about "rights" | Proponents of traditional values are making a tactical error in allowing the homosexual lobby to frame the issue of same-sex marriage merely as one of equal rights for gays. Much more is at stake.

Let me raise a few questions. Do you believe that marriage is properly an institution between a man and a woman? Do you believe marriage, so defined, is an indispensable building block of our society? If you answered yes to these questions, do you believe that there is something wrong with you for wanting to preserve an institution that you believe is essential for society? Are you a homophobe? Are you full of hate?

The gay lobby, in its tireless determination, has succeeded in framing the same-sex marriage issue as one of equal rights instead of the right of a society to preserve its foundational institutions. They have painted those who nobly want to preserve these institutions as hateful, homophobic bigots.

But opposition to same-sex marriage not about "rights," and it's not about hate or bigotry. No one is preventing homosexuals from living with one another. All homosexuals have a "right" to get married and to have that marriage sanctioned by the state. But in order to do that they must marry someone of the opposite sex -- that's what marriage means and has always meant. When they insist that society be forced to redefine marriage to sanction same-sex unions, they are attempting to establish new and special rights.

What's worse is that if we view this from the narrow perspective of "gay rights," we are overlooking that these "rights" will not be created in a vacuum, without consequences to our society. It's not as simple as saying that homosexuals will have the right to live together and receive the "legal incidents" of marriage.

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If they coerce society into placing its imprimatur on same-sex marriage, they will have eroded one of the fundamental supports of our society. But in our postmodern licentious, amoral culture, we are so hung up on radical individualism we no longer seem to comprehend that society has a vital interest in establishing rules grounded in morality and enforced by law.

This is the larger issue underlying the marriage turf battle. Does our society even have a mandate anymore to base its laws on moral absolutes? Or does our myopic zeal for pluralism, "tolerance," "multiculturalism," "secularism," and moral relativism require that we abandon the moral pillars upon which our system is built?

I know it is chic to subscribe to the mindless notion that we can't legislate morality or that we can't even base our laws on our moral and religious beliefs, but that thinking is as destructive as it is nonsensical. We have always based our laws on our moral beliefs and must continue to for them to have any legitimacy.

It is completely possible to base a nation's constitutional system on specific religious beliefs and simultaneously guarantee the rights of its citizens to exercise other religious beliefs. That's precisely what our predominantly Christian Framers did. They built a system on Judeo-Christian roots, which they believed would guarantee, not threaten, political and religious freedom. America's history conclusively vindicates them.

They designed a governmental system grounded in the laws of nature established by the G-d they believe created them in His image and Who was therefore the source of their inalienable rights. A society so founded has an interest in preserving the moral foundation established by this G-d and observing His laws of nature. And the protection of this interest is wholly consistent with, indeed essential to, guaranteeing an ordered society with maximum political and religious liberties.

We are so spoiled with our freedoms that we never stop to think that they are based on a moral foundation, which, if uprooted, will uproot our liberties as well. You don't have to be an ardent churchgoer to grasp that we cannot continue in our rebellious and narcissistic quest for unrestrained liberty with impunity. If we persist in demanding freedom without responsibility; if we recklessly reject self-control and moral parameters; if we defy the laws of nature established by an omniscient G-d, we can expect chaos and the eventual erosion of liberty.

It is chilling that those who want to preserve our unique system and the unparalleled freedom it guarantees are viewed as a threat to that freedom, when, in fact, they are its sacred guardians.

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David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of, most recently, "Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.