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

RA:It quickly became one of the best-selling books on this topic. The article that it came out of (was) published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (and) the most downloaded article at the SSR Insight for that year. And then Justice Samuel Alito has cited our book twice in his opinion on the Defense of Marriage Act case. So we’re pretty happy with it. We wish Justice Alito’s opinion would have been a majority opinion, not a dissenting opinion, but we think it’s being read by the right people, and it’s having an impact.

DN: Is it hard to take the emotion out of this debate?

RA: I don’t think it’s hard. I think that to a certain extent, too many people on both sides of this issue have engaged in empty sloganeering, and they’ll call people names and they’ll bring more heat than light to this issue. So I just think it’s important to actually think critically about what marriage is, why marriage matters, why redefining marriage is a bad idea, and then engage on that level.

DN: Do you think we’ve taken out the historical context in this debate — what has marriage meant from the beginning?

RA: I think what we’ve really done is that we haven’t looked at what the social purpose of marriage is — what function does marriage perform? It’s true that it’s about love, but it’s not just about love; it’s true that it’s about romance, but it’s not just about romance. It’s about uniting a man and woman as husband and wife in a permanent and an exclusive relationship, precisely to give children the best chance at a future, by having a relationship with the man and the woman who gave them life — their mother and their father. It’s true that for the past 40 or 50 years heterosexuals have bought into a bad liberal ideology about marriage and have made a mess of it, but that’s not a reason for putting another nail into the coffin. That’s a reason for making reforms and for reclaiming a sounder understanding of human sexuality and of marriage.

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