EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

November 25, 2012

Column: Redefining marriage is a sign of a lost society

One significant development in the recent election was that voters in four states approved same-sex marriage initiatives. Until now, all previous state referendums to approve same-sex marriage — 32 of them — failed.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page — where conservatives usually turn to for intellectual capital — saw this as cause for celebration.

According to the Journal, marriage definition should come from voters, not from court orders. Americans, they argue, have “shown themselves more than capable of changing their views on gay marriage the democratic way.”

In other words, our definition of marriage should follow process, not principle. Let voters decide.

“As views on gay marriage change, and a growing number of Americans support it, politics will follow. This is how it’s supposed to work.”

I’d guess if I asked the Wall Street Journal editors if the U.S. Constitution should be viewed as a “living document” — if our understanding of its words and what they mean should be open to change to reflect attitudes of the moment — they would say “no.”

Liberals think the Constitution should be re-engineered every few years like an iPad.

So it is not surprising when liberals, for whom tradition is meaningless, trash once-sacred institutions in favor of impulses of the moment.

But it does surprise me when those whose politics are supposedly right of center, who view America’s founding documents as sacrosanct and give the highest priority to preserving their integrity, are cavalier regarding the integrity of an institution thousands of years older than our Constitution.

But it’s a point of view not uncommon.

In the 1850s, Stephen Douglas proposed solving the dilemma of whether slavery should be permitted in new states by suggesting that they should just vote. What could be more American than submitting the question of slavery to the democratic process of each state?

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