Orson Scott Card: State job is not to redefine marriage

Published: Thursday, July 24 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

If property rights were utterly abolished, and you could own nothing, you would leave that society as quickly as possible — or create a new society that agreed to respect each other's property rights and protected them from outsiders who would attempt to take away your property.

Marriage is, if anything, more vital, more central, than property.

Husbands need to have the whole society agree that when they marry, their wives are off limits to all other males. He has a right to trust that all his wife's children would be his.

Wives need to have the whole society agree that when they marry, their husband is off limits to all other females. All of his protection and earning power will be devoted to her and her children, and will not be divided with other women and their children.

These two premises are so basic that they preexist any known government. In most societies through history, failure to live up to these commitments has led to extreme social sanctions — even, in many cases, death.

What used to be informally protected by the customs of villages and tribes is now supposedly protected by governments and laws.

Only when the marriage of heterosexuals has the support of the whole society can we have our best hope of raising each new generation to aspire to continue our civilization — including the custom of marriage.

Seen in this context, we are fools if we think "gay marriage" is the first or even the worst threat to marriage.

We heterosexuals have put marriage in such a state that it's a wonder homosexuals would even aspire to call their unions by that name.

Divorce is "no-fault," easily obtained on any pretext.

A vast number of unmarried men and women have such contempt for marriage that they share bed and home without asking for any formal recognition by society.

In an era when birth control and abortion make childbearing completely optional, the number of out-of-wedlock births shows the contempt that many women have for marriage.

Yet most of these single mothers still demand that the man they chose not to marry before having sex with him provide financial support for them and their children — while denying the man any of the rights and protections of marriage.

Men routinely discard wives and children to follow the nearly universal male biological desire for diversity in mating. Adultery is now openly expected of men, even if faithful wives deplore it.

With "gay marriage," the last shreds of meaning will be stripped away from marriage, with homosexuals finishing what faithless, selfish heterosexuals have begun.

Marriage, to be worth preserving, needs to mean not just something, but everything.

Faithful sexual monogamy, persistence until death, male protection and providence for wife and children, female loyalty to children and husband, and parental discretion in child-rearing.

If government is going to meddle in this, it had better be to support marriage in general while providing protection for those caught in truly destructive marriages.

Because when government is the enemy of marriage, then the people who are actually creating successful marriages have no choice but to change governments, by whatever means is made possible or necessary.

Society gains no benefit whatsoever (except for a momentary warm feeling about how "fair" and "compassionate" we are) from renaming homosexual liaisons and friendships as marriage.

Married people attempting to raise children with the hope that they, in turn, will be reproductively successful, have every reason to oppose the normalization of homosexual unions.

It's about grandchildren. That's what all life is about. It's not enough just to spawn — your offspring must grow up in circumstances that will maximize their reproductive opportunities.

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