By Chris Stevenson, Purcellville
March 11, 2005 — In his February 25 op-ed, Mr. Weintraub writes that in the context of political questions of the day, each person is allotted his or her religious beliefs and that these deserve respect. However, he then onerously circumscribes this tolerance so that ideas borne of faith are kept out of the public square of debate because they are often conveyed by those who endow them with a “moral status” and thus exclude “all other information.”
While some who confer a moral superiority on certain ideas do indeed ignore others’ opinions because of that privileged status, not all act that way. Using religious ideas to argue political questions does not foreclose opposing arguments. Indeed, the burden is on those expounding religious ideas so they are accessible to all participants, no matter their belief, in the fair and open evaluation of all ideas on their merits, whether secular or religious. For example, the traditional family has thousands of years of experience in preserving society from one generation to another. Gay and lesbian relationships do not. In fact, there is enough information about gay and lesbian partnerships being less stable and more prone to sexual and physical abuse, not to mention homosexuality being antithetical to the major, ancient world religions, that the electorate is justified in not wholeheartedly embracing these relationships as equal to the traditional marriage.
Mr. Weintraub further states that “[o]ur public policy cannot allow the beliefs of one group of citizens to mandate unequal treatment for another group of citizens.” The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution forbids States to “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” This does not mean laws must treat persons doing different things equally, a ridiculous legal position. Governments should certainly treat treason differently than truancy. What is the logical reasoning behind the demand for equal treatment if two groups are conducting themselves entirely non-equally?
He further demands that we “categorically reject any policy that . . defines the existence of any of our students or their families as inappropriate subject matter?” This, too, makes little sense if one follows the argument to its logical conclusion. If a student is convicted of shoplifting must we cease teaching that stealing is against the law? If parents of a student are involved in distributing pornography must we begin teaching that pornography is appropriate reading material?
The article’s title expresses one of the author’s concluding arguments: “Sexual Orientation is Not a Political Position.” No, sexual orientation is not in and of itself a political position but the government’s posture toward it, or toward any question before the public for that matter, certainly is.
While some “straight neighbors” may think that gay and lesbian relationships do not threaten traditional marriage, others feel they do and with good reason. Changing the definition of marriage will alter the incentives for those who wish to enter it in ways currently unknown. While some may believe this change is for the better, many more of us believe the change would be disastrous for an institution that has proven itself for millenia, and that using our children, our families, and our society as an experimental sociology lab would be disastrous. What it means to “be married” would be significantly different than before. The burden should be on those who think otherwise to make their case for change rather than on those of us who are forced to defend the obvious case that marriage, as it currently stands, has been and is amazingly beneficial for children, spouses, and society overall.
[Originally published in Leesburg Today, March 11, 2005]