National Edition

Q&A: Heritage Foundation scholar argues for marriage between a man and a woman

Published: Sunday, April 27 2014 12:15 a.m. MDT

DN: So as society, do we need to set an ideal for parenting?

RA: Yes, this is more or less why this state is in the marriage business in the first place. You could have children in lots of different relationships. The state tries to encourage marriage as the ideal relationship, the ideal institution, both for adult committed love but also for child rearing. It really wants to hold up marriage as the place in which children are conceived and then reared to adulthood.

DN: Many people believe sexual orientation is an innate quality — you don’t choose your own sexual orientation — and that discriminating based on sex is akin to discriminating based on race. What is your rebuttal to that?

RA: No great thinker in human history has ever argued that race has anything to do with marriage. You can search Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, Luther and Calvin, Locke and Kant, and they will never discuss race, because race has nothing to do with what marriage is. All of them will discuss the sexual complementarity of male and female because that goes to the heart of what marriage is. Marriage laws that kept the races apart were wrong. But marriage is about bringing together the two halves of humanity, male and female. So marriage law has to be color blind, but it can’t be gender blind.

DN: So much of the discussion over same-sex marriage has come down to a debate over religious freedom. Can’t the two co-exist? Why is it a threat to religious freedom?

RA: They could exist in theory, but in practice we see that those who are arguing in favor of redefining marriage are then trying to stamp out any residual resistance, any private individual, any charity and business that continues to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. They want to see those beliefs eradicated. And so we’ve seen Catholic charities and evangelical adoption agencies in Massachusetts and Illinois and the District of Columbia forced out of the adoption care space because they wouldn’t place their children in homes with same-sex couples. They wanted to find homes with married moms and dads. The government said, “That’s discrimination and we won't give you an adoption agency license.”

We’ve seen photographers and florists and bakers and innkeepers who have no problem serving gay and lesbian customers, but who don’t want to be forced into celebrating a same-sex wedding, politely decline to use their artistic talents to celebrate that same-sex wedding and then get sued by the same-sex couple. This is not live and let live, this is not “let me be free to do what I want to do,” this is “I am going to use the force of law to coerce you into celebrating my same-sex relationship,” and that’s the concern for religious liberty.

DN: As you lay out your arguments, many people may be unmoved because it seems like you aren’t giving homosexuals the opportunity for true fulfillment, that society is justifying sacrificing some people’s fulfillment at the sake of others. What is your response to that?

RA: Marriage laws take nothing away from anyone. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex can live with each other and love each other. If their house of worship recognizes same-sex marriage, they can have a wedding there. If their business wants to give them marriage benefits, the business can. That’s very much a live and let live society. What’s at stake with the redefinition of marriage is: will the law redefine what marriage is and then force every community, every religious community, except for the four walls of a church, every business community, into treating the same-sex relationship as if it’s a marriage, even when it violates their beliefs about marriage? But defining marriage as between a man and a woman so that as many children as possible have a mother and a father in no way infringes upon the liberty of any American to live and to love how they choose to.

DN: Your book came out 2012. What kind of response have you gotten from it?

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