Philosopher kings: Transformative decisions best left to people's representatives


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  • Pepper2 Springville, Utah, UT
    July 17, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    I couldn't agree more! I appreciate this explanation by Michael and Jenet Erickson and am grateful for the wise words of Judge Kelly. Adult choices should not be the priority, and the people, not the judges, should have the final say. What is ultimately best for children is the big issue, and each child truly benefits from both a mother and a father. I feel strongly that marriage, as defined since the beginning of recorded time, should stand...always as the bedrock institution it was designed to be for the benefit of children, families and society.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    July 15, 2014 4:15 p.m.


    Morality doesn't stem from religion.


    Preventing gay couples from marrying does absolutely NOTHING to "help the children".

  • factoid Ogden, UT
    July 15, 2014 1:11 p.m.

    One argument for same-sex marriage is that there is no higher law by which any of us need abide, and morality stems from religion. If true, then marriage, gay-rights, abortion, or whatever the issue, is only a preference and we should accept any choice another makes. However, those who argue in this direction are often caught saying things like, That's not fair! or You're being hypocritical. Well doesn't that let the cat out?

    If there is no morality by which we need abide, then there is no wrong in hypocrisy or unfairness. It's simply preference.

    Once you pull the unfair card, you have admitted that there is a higher law each of us is aware of that establishes right and wrong, and that this law IS NOT created by man. If true, then we must be very alert towards our consciences as we establish political laws. Is it possible that this law touches not only how we interact with others, but how life begins/ends, children are raised, and how we treat these procreative abilities?

    Give me a leader with a true moral conscience, and I will give my loyalty and life.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    July 15, 2014 5:57 a.m.

    @ factoid

    The only reason judges are making these calls at this time is because people took it upon themselves to vote on the rights of others. One reason it is now being argued that "transformative decisions" should be made by the people/their representatives is because those with this view see that they're losing in the courts. If they were winning in the courts they'd be all about the judges.

    But what I also hear when some make arguments like this is, "Wait. We're not ready." I can empathize with this and I do wish the world worked so that we could all feel prepared for the next change coming around the bend. But it doesn't and it would be unfair to ask gay people and their families to wait until everyone can get their heads wrapped around this. They've been waiting to be acknowledged as equal citizens for centuries. The sooner we end this injustice, the better.

  • nmgirl Los Alamos, NM
    July 15, 2014 5:54 a.m.

    Loved the article!! Very well said. Let's do all we can to help our children!

  • factoid Ogden, UT
    July 14, 2014 10:35 p.m.

    It may be worth noting that the title, "Transformative Decisions are best left to People's Representatives" which has been quoted in the comments several times, seems to have been misunderstood by those who quoted it.

    I understand the arguments against allowing representatives to dictate transformative decisions, and I agree. But that is not the point of the authors, and construing it as such is a gross misunderstanding. The authors' point is very clear, which is that such transformative decisions should be made by the PEOPLE, or their representatives, NOT by a few judges. And I think that's something we can all get on board with.

    Although it is nice to voice an opinion here, we all know that this string of comments will not dictate what is right or wrong for America or for same-sex marriage. The only value our comments have is rooted in the hopes that the people actually do get to choose the future of America. If, on the other hand, we continue to allow the judges to make these transformative decisions for us, these comment strings will have no worth at all. Let's all hope for better!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 14, 2014 9:33 p.m.

    Re: A Quaker " People have rights. Even people that you don't like, or don't respect, still have rights. Their rights are not dependent upon your "endorsement." And one of the rights that people have is to form lifetime bonds to loved ones. That you don't recognize or appreciate that love is not their problem. It is yours."

    Well stated and exactly right.

  • Kalindra Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 14, 2014 6:01 p.m.

    Utah law allows first cousins to marry if they are unable to have children. If marriages are to be "child-centric," this law needs to change.

    Utah law allows single individuals to foster and adopt. If children "deserve" a mother and a father, this law needs to change.

    Many children are being raised by single parents. If children have a "right" to a mother and a father, laws need to be passed to correct these situations.

    Why is it that so many people are concerned about "the children" when it comes to limiting the right of same-sex couples to marry but not at any other time?

    Many children are being raised by same-sex parents. Prohibiting marriage to these parents does nothing to provide the children with two opposite-sex parents, but it does make their situation less secure and threatens their stability should something happen to one of the parents.

  • prochild Springville, UT
    July 14, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    Great analysis by the Ericksons. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. Those who have tried to disagree on this comment thread have done a poor job of addressing the concerns they express. Many sound like they didn't read the article. The Ericksons say nothing derogatory about same sex attracted people. But rather express respect and gratitude for them sharing their experiences. They are only suggesting that changing the definition of marriage is something that needs debated and discussed thoroughly,exploring the probable effects on society generally and on children directly, rather than a few men wielding power in seeming response to slogans and the latest popular beliefs.

  • WyomingWoman Kaysville, UT
    July 14, 2014 2:21 p.m.

    Yes! Thanks for making such a clear description of the situation. Our society should be very careful about redefining the basic unit of our communities. Adult desires should not outweigh the good of the children. Great article!!!

  • frisbeemathgirl Payson, UT
    July 14, 2014 1:49 p.m.

    Awesome article! Every child deserves a father and a mother!

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    July 14, 2014 12:33 p.m.

    The authors devote a paragraph to establishing their gay-friendly bona fides, yet refer to gay people as "individuals who experience same-sex attraction." I wonder if they refer to their hetero friends as "individuals who experience opposite-sex attraction."

    I know, I know - "SSA" is a thing - an affliction, a "challenge" to be overcome. But our "increased understanding about sexual orientation" actually rebuts this notion. The only part of the universe still holding fast to this myth is the religious part - and in diminishing proportions.

    Fine, Ericksons - place loyalty to your religion over knowledge. This is your choice. But don't in the next breath claim respect for gay people when you can only see them through the prism of your faith - a faith that tells you they have an affliction even as gay people and evidence are saying, "This is not true."

    I have to go now. I have a meeting with my boss who experiences opposite-sex attraction and left-handedness.

  • DHScientist SLC, UT
    July 14, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    Awesome article. Kids need a mom and a dad. I stand with kids on this issue.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    July 14, 2014 10:21 a.m.

    @ordinaryfolks: There's no reason to stop there. Let's take their faux reasoning to its logical conclusion.

    IF every child has an absolute right to its biological parents, then obviously society has a duty to enable that right. That duty includes direct financial support where necessary, support programs, and support personnel. Direct financial support might include aid to the child's parent or parents for additional housing and ongoing living expenses. Support programs might include publicly-funded childcare, so a young mother could complete school and/or job training. Support personnel might include nanny services to make sure the child not only integrates well with its family situation, but gets every advantage in early education. And social services to rehabilitate unfit parents or support unprepared ones.

    These people who claim "Children's Rights!" are complete hypocrites, since they're the same people who oppose any spending for programs which would make that possible, and the first to scream "Socialism!" at even the suggestion of it.

  • GK Willington Salt Lake City, UT
    July 14, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    re: Irony Guy

    Agreed. Its like the *edited* version of rule 7 in Animal Farm.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    July 14, 2014 7:22 a.m.

    So, apparently now as the argument is being made by those who oppose same sex marriage, children have a civil right to be raised by their biological parents.

    Holy ghost Batman, talk about hypocrisy finding a civil right not enumerated in the Constitution, is apostasy n the Republican/Tea Party. Let us at least try a little political consistency.

    And, if indeed is a right for offspring to be raised by biological parents, then what do with do to people who decide not to continue their marriage, give up a child for adoption, or other circumstances that violate this new right? Fines? Incarceration? Exile?

    All this huff and puff from the anti same sex marriage crowd just continues to show the vacuity of their arguments.

  • Starry starry night Palm Springs , CA
    July 13, 2014 11:43 p.m.

    While I find the tone of this OP/ED to be respectful and evolved in its views of gays in our society, I disagree with the inflexible conclusions about procreation's central role in the institution of marriage. Marriage, throughout history, has meant different things. Even within the Church of Latter Day Saints there has been a history of conflict that required adaptation to changing times. As society advances, all of us will need to move forward as well. The definition of family has irreversibly changed. The structure of our society confers legal and financial protections through the structure of marriage. Rather than weakening marriage, inclusion of same sex unions strengthens the institution by declaring the fundamentality of its traditions and protections as irreplaceable. As we fully absorb our gay fellow citizens into our culture and as we recognize the immutability of their sexuality we advance our culture and the institution of marriage at the same time. A win-win for all. We are living in historic times, let's all rise to the challenge with our hearts and our eyes wide open!

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    July 13, 2014 10:39 p.m.

    No one is asking you to "endorse same-sex marriage." You may continue to condemn it, denigrate it, ignore it, or despise those who enter into it. What you can't do is legally prevent it.

    That is the big difference. People have rights. Even people that you don't like, or don't respect, still have rights. Their rights are not dependent upon your "endorsement." And one of the rights that people have is to form lifetime bonds to loved ones. That you don't recognize or appreciate that love is not their problem. It is yours.

    But, when you attempt to enact your lack of appreciation into law, to attempt to interfere with their lives, to prevent them from accessing the same rights in a lifetime relationship that others are fully entitled to, that is their problem, and the courts now realize that they need to address that.

    This doesn't change your lives in any way. If you can't recognize that fact, you do indeed have a serious problem, but it is not the one you're describing.

  • LouBird Provo, UT
    July 13, 2014 10:35 p.m.

    I applaud the Eriksons for putting the focus of the same-sex marriage debate on what it needs to be on: children. Redefining marriage also redefines parenting, and redefining parenting will have a huge impact on children whether we like it or not. Society is about to conduct a huge social experiment on our most vulnerable population. It’s a population who can't give their consent. No responsible institution in the world would grant permission to conduct such an experiment because it would likely be considered unethical. We have no right to trample on children's civil rights in this manner.

  • Daedalus, Stephen ARVADA, CO
    July 13, 2014 10:32 p.m.

    Ericksons: "...the two-judge majority for the Tenth Circuit found a fundamental right to same-sex marriage 'deeply rooted in the history and tradition of the United States.'"

    The Ericksons further insinuate that the 10th Cir. is improvising by "newly applying...constitutional principles...[merely] in light of increased understanding about sexual orientation."

    100% falsehoods.

    Google "13-4178.pdf" to read the opinion.

    See pp 40-41 where the majority expressly rejects that the issue before it is "whether there is a right to participate in same-sex marriage."

    Instead, the fundamental right considered by the 10th Cir. is the "freedom of choice to marry" established in Loving v Virginia and cited by SCOTUS many times since.

    The 10th Cir. cites SCOTUS precedent Lawrence v Texas (2003) holding gays and lesbians share the same fundamental rights as heterosexuals, despite how moral disapproval against them was once codified into criminal code.

    The 10th Cir. breaks no new ground by applying strict scrutiny to a law that infringes upon a fundamental right.

    Utah simply failed to demonstrate how Amend 3 (a law that infringes LGBT citizen's fundamental right to exercise choice in marriage) was "narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest."

  • Ariz Madison, AL
    July 13, 2014 7:36 p.m.

    Decisions are best left to the people who are directly affected by the decisions. In the case of marriage that is the two people getting married. The person that's elected to represent thousands of people on a plethora of issues is simply not in a position to make such a personally profound and intimate decision on behalf of the individuals involved. Other marriages between consenting adults are not subject to the scrutiny or whim of any elected official or body. There's no reason that should be the case for same sex couples. A marriage is not comparable to other political activity such as setting budgets or awarding construction contracts for public works projects.

  • dev Provo, UT
    July 13, 2014 5:59 p.m.

    The Ericksons' analysis is spot-on. This is the discussion that should take place in our society before marriage is redefined by judicial diktat. Marriage should first and foremost be about creating the best chance for children to be raised by two biological parents, not about the well being of adults.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    July 13, 2014 5:45 p.m.

    "Transformative decisions are best left to the people's representatives".

    Gov. Boggs comes to mind. I'll bet the Erikson's would have a substantial problem with their argument being made by Gov. Boggs and used against them and their cohorts.

  • Hugh1 Denver, CO
    July 13, 2014 5:33 p.m.

    "Genderless marriage?" No! "[E[mphasizing adult choices about marriage deemphasizes children's needs for marriage." Absolutely, No! Gays do not want to redefine the foundations of traditional marriage - they want same-sex commitments included under the marriage umbrella. Courts keep ruling for equality since gay marriage is not a threat to traditional marriage. Most gays grew up in straight households, they have the same respect for marriage, child rearing, and parental commitment as their straight brothers and sisters. Implying that a gay child is less valued in this generational contract is unfair and morally wrong. If your son brought home a same sex partner, would preventing him from entering a marriage contract serve any purpose? It's probably not the marriage contract that your church is looking for, but what are your son's options? To be excommunicated from church - and family? To live a solitary life? These choices are cruel. It's time for parents and church to recognize that this is your son's life, it's how he was born and it's his decision, and you should love and respect him (and his choices), as you would his brothers and sisters.

  • Stormwalker Cleveland , OH
    July 13, 2014 5:10 p.m.

    According to Citizen's United, the "people" who are represented are most like corporations with deep pockets. Like, you know, Hobby Lobby. Not individual voters.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    July 13, 2014 4:26 p.m.

    Samhill, you continue to miss the point. "The greatest problem that I see with homosexual "marriage" is that it is part of equating homosexual parentage, almost an oxymoron considering the obvious biological constraints, with that of heterosexual parentage. "

    The right to marry has nothing..let me say it again, nothing to do with parenting. Two people who want to commit to one another may or may not decide to or even be capable of having children. It doesn't matter...again it doesn't matter.

    Like Maudine suggests if you want to talk about children and parenting then do so, but it's not the same conversation as who is allowed to marry.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    July 13, 2014 2:43 p.m.

    "Transformative decisions are best left to the people's representatives"????

    If left to the "people's representatives" of the Solid South, blacks would still be sitting at the back of the bus and getting lynched for complaining about it.

    Under our Constitution, the "people's representatives" cannot infringe on the unalienable rights of human beings. That's the issue here.

  • riverofsun St.George, UT
    July 13, 2014 2:07 p.m.

    Until Utah residents have made friends with SSM couples, they are simply exhibiting fear of the unknown.
    They appear to be unable to say anything good, because they really just do not know how happy and contented children raised in SSM families can be.
    Utah is "sheltered" from much of what the rest of our nation understands, and now comfortably accepts as good and normal.
    People, open your hearts and minds so you can actually view, unburden your life, and then know the truth.
    You will be able to live your life in a different way because your blinders will have been removed!

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    July 13, 2014 12:58 p.m.

    Ericksons: "Consistent with this adult-centric view, the majority flatly rejected that 'procreation is an essential aspect of the marriage relationship,' prioritizing instead the 'personal aspects' such as 'emotional support and public commitment' as well as 'access to legal and financial benefits.'"

    And yet the State of Utah already embraced and endorsed the "adult-centric" view of marriage that the Ericksons see as invalid in 1996 when it amended its marriage law to allow first cousins to marry, but only if they were non-procreative. The arguments advanced at that time in favor of the change were exactly those that the Ericksons dismiss above-- emotional support, public commitment, and legal benefits. Can they explain how childless first cousin marriage advances the traditional procreative family model while same sex marriage (including many couples with children) does not?

    The Ericksons too facilely and cavalierly dismiss the many same sex couples that have children as unimportant and irrelevant. They repeet the mantra of children needing "a mother and father" but discount the benefits of two parents (irrespective of gender) over single parenthood, which is perfectly legal.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 13, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    The real problems with the institution of marriage are much more extensive and more important to our survival than the argument over same sex marriage. In our current world marriage is not as important as when it was first invented. Both men and women have much more freedom and independence that often changes the rules.

    Child rearing by Mom and Dad has always been regarded and the best way create individuals with the best chance for survival and is probably still so today. However that doesn't mean that child rearing by Mom and Dad is THE best way to prepare an individual for success in our current and future worlds. If we really wanted kids to have equal opportunity, we would not leave it up to parents.

  • Tolstoy salt lake, UT
    July 13, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    Again if you have to use the same lies that have been disproven in more then a dozen different courts of law about what the research shows then maybe there is a problem with your argument. Claiming a morality to justify your position the misrepresenting the facts diminishes not only your argument but also diminishes religion as a whole.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    July 13, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    "Recent cultural acceptance of same-sex relationships has paved the way for marriage’s redefinition, but it is actually society’s changing attitudes about what marriage means that are ultimately responsible for its transformation."

    This is a point I've been making for at least the last 5 years and it's good to see that it is found elsewhere.

    The greatest problem that I see with homosexual "marriage" is that it is part of equating homosexual parentage, almost an oxymoron considering the obvious biological constraints, with that of heterosexual parentage. As someone who is very pro diversity, the obvious advantages of being raised by both one's mother and father far outweigh whatever benefits accrue to people in a homosexual coupling who also want to be parents.

    I recognize that the traditional nuclear family of father, mother and children is often not possible, for a variety of reasons. But, creating the disadvantageous hurdle of not being raised with the diversity of one's male/female parentage is something that should be minimized rather than celebrated and encouraged.

  • E Sam Provo, UT
    July 13, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    The most recent study of the effects of same sex parenting, conducted by Dr. Simon Crouch of the the University of Melbourne, concluded that "children in same sex families scored better on a number of key measures of physical health and social well-being than children from the general population." The biggest problems faced by children of same sex couples is stigmatization and prejudice. I notice that this piece chose to ignore the Australian study.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    July 13, 2014 9:40 a.m.

    If we are going to make marriage about children, then let's make marriage about children.

    Let's pass laws requiring those with children to be married and, absence abuse, to remain married until the children are grown and married themselves. Let's pass laws requiring those who are married to have children, and if they cannot or choose not to have children, their marriage automatically becomes null and void.

    Let's criminalize adultery because of its potential to interfere with determining paternity of any conceived offspring.

    Let's pass laws providing the benefits necessary for one parent to stay at home and raise the children while the other parent works. Let's pass laws requiring the working parent to spend time daily assisting in the raising of their children.
    Let's pass laws outlining contingency plans should one or both parents die or become incapacitated, or if a divorce is granted due to abuse.

    Otherwise, let's recognize "the children!" claim for the red herring it is and move on.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 13, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    As a fundamental unit of society, marriage has really suffered under the care of those that have been able to partake in it thus far. It's time to let those that really want have a go, It's their right, and that right needs to be protected from the meddling of 'the peoples' representatives'.

  • Llew40 Sandy, UT
    July 13, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    With more marriage-minded women in Utah than men (thanks to the Mormon influence which encourages women to marry and young men to do nothing but play the field) the effects of same sex marriage does nothing to improve the dating pool for the next generation.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    July 13, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    Don't look now,
    but "Marriage" has been changing for over 100 years.

    Woman have the right to vote,
    Women have the right to file for divorce.

    The "divorce" rate - for heterosexual couples -has leveled off at 50%,
    But co-habitation "common law" has increase 50 times since then,
    and is now considered "normal".

    If heterosexual "marriages" are so perfect, then why all the trouble?
    If yo are worried about "the children" Society needs to fix that first.

    Blaming Same Sex Marriage couples for the ills of "the children",
    is like the Nazis blaming Germany's economic woes on the Jews.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    July 13, 2014 7:47 a.m.

    By emphasizing the procreation aspect of marriage you denigrate the millions of non-procreation marriages. On the other hand by emphasizing the "personal aspects” such as “emotional support and public commitment” as well as “access to legal and financial benefits" you do no harm to married couples who choose to and are capable of having children.

    My non procreative marriage has done no harm to any of your procreative marriages. In addition I don't remember anyone, including friends and family insisting that my to be wife and I have children before we could get married.

    There is absolutely no basis for denying someone the right to marry the person they love based on whether they will or can have children, and we have never done that...never.

    Simply put, in the end SSM is about the commitment of two people and not whether the two people will choose to procreate or parent.

  • ordinaryfolks seattle, WA
    July 13, 2014 6:58 a.m.

    Could not disagree more, and take exception to almost every assertion.

    Marriage did not start out a the way to raise kids. Millennia ago it was about property, inheritance and power.

    Studies do show that kids were better raised in two parent homes, but there is more to the studies than just that (divorce?). And new studies of kids raised in same sex households show that kids are all right, and even better in some ways, than kids raised by opposite sexed parents.

    Human rights in a constitutional republic should never be put up for a vote. Our county's history is replete with examples of bloody wars fought to solve this problem in the extreme, and amendments and laws to end practices in which the majority is repressing the minority.

    In the fight to maintain the specious religious notion that marriage can only be about opposite sex parenting, no stone is left unturned to convince the majority that gay marriage is some great evil. Young people, and increasingly the mainstream of the country sees this as a lie.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    July 13, 2014 1:15 a.m.

    I disagree that human rights issues like this should be left to the "representatives of the people." Constitutional amendments protect the unlimited rights of the people (Amendment 9) and due process and equal protection of the law (Amendment 14), and judicial review protects the minority from the "tyranny of the majority." If left to the states and their representatives civil rights and women's suffrage would not have been accomplished as soon as they were. No one is arguing that a family with two biological parents is not ideal. But, we do not ban or discourage adoptive-families or step-families from forming. I contend that the approximately 800,000 children of one biological parent in same sex partner households in America would be better off if they were in a legal family with two parents having the benefits and protections of marriage. If you are pro-family why would you prefer that these children be in the legal equivalent of a single parent family?