The Manhattan Declaration describes marriage as “the first institution of society… on which all other human institutions have their foundation.” Understanding what marriage is – and why it matters – could not be more important.
Pending before the Supreme Court is USA v. Windsor, in which Edith Windsor, a lesbian claiming unfair treatment under federal estate tax law, seeks a declaration that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Because resolution of that and a companion case will decide how the Equal Protection Clause applies to marriage laws, the Court decision will not only affect federal policy, but will almost certainly impact outcomes in various states in a number of cases seeking to invalidate traditional marriage.
For example, in Darby, et al. v. David Orr, now at the state trial court level, homosexual rights activists are seeking to have the Illinois definition of marriage changed to include same-sex couples, even though Illinois enacted a strong Domestic Partnership law in 2011 effectively granting homosexual couples the same rights as married couples, except the use of the word “marriage.”
The Manhattan Declaration has filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court defending DOMA’s definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The Manhattan Declaration was founded in 2009 by Charles Colson, Timothy George and Robert George with the input and support of more than 100 Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical leaders. Its purpose is to articulate Christian values respecting the sanctity of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty, and call signatories to stand firm in their defense. The signers and supporters of the Manhattan Declaration regard these values as foundational to the wellness of American society. To date, more than 535,000 individuals have signed the Declaration.
A primary emphasis of their brief is the centrality of male-female marriage “in nearly every culture throughout history because it encourages and supports responsible procreation and childbearing.” Moreover, “where the marriage culture begins to erode, social pathologies of every sort quickly manifest themselves.” The brief cites numerous academic articles, such as Margaret Somerville, “What About the Children?” in “Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiment” (2004), where Professor Somerville shows that “accepting same-sex marriage necessarily means accepting that the societal institution of marriage is intended primarily for the benefit of the partners to the marriage, and only secondarily for the children born into it.”
It also cites a 2012 University of Texas study by Dr. Mark Regnerus, “How Different are the Adult Children of Parents who have Same-Sex Relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study,” which finds that children raised by parents in same-sex relationships fared worse than children raised by married biological parents in a wide range of developmental issues. The data presented on the interactive website associated with the study puts to rest arguments that children do just as well in any number of domestic arrangements. The truth is decisive: Children do best with their own married mom and dad. The site allows the court and the public to investigate outcomes on 20 variables—including drug use, smoking, arrests and convictions, public assistance dependence, unemployment, suicide, depression, sexual exploitation, sexually transmitted diseases, forced sexual activity, education attainment and other factors that influence the wellbeing of these children, and ultimately, the society they are a part of.
If marriage is redefined, eventually millions of our children who are subject to adoption, foster care or custody disputes will be placed in living situations not based on the child’s best interest, but based on the new family structures the Supreme Court or individual states have decreed to be normative. For example, after Illinois enacted the Domestic Partnership Act, Attorney General Lisa Madigan warned Illinois child placement agencies of enforcement action if they “discriminate” based on marital status (including single, homosexual and unmarried). Ms. Madigan’s threat implicitly subordinates the “best interest of the child” standard to political dogma.
The Manhattan Declaration brief also cautions the Court about troubling religious liberty implications. For example, after marriage was redefined in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities were forced to end their adoption and foster care services in those places simply because their faith prevented them from placing children with same-sex couples. Additionally, after Canada and New York redefined marriage, citizens with sincere religious convictions about marriage have been forced to resign from public offices whose duties require them to address the issue of marriage.
Thankfully, Americans may now be awakening to the perils to children and religious liberty which marriage redefinition would bring. Supporters of homosexual “marriage” are also being given the opportunity to consider when the legal prerogatives they seek can be over-extended and thus inflict deep pain on others.
John Mauck, a Chicago attorney with the firm Mauck & Baker, submitted the brief on behalf of the Manhattan Declaration.