There is no such thing because the word “marriage” already has a definition. A marriage is a bond between a man and a woman, sanctioned by God and regulated by civil state law. It is not a “right” because rights are always individual, and marriage involves two people, which makes it contract. Since the word “marriage” has a definition, the only way to preserve that definition is to not accept new qualifications or new meanings which lead to redefinitions, and to always use the word marriage only when you mean marriage.
There is no such thing as a gay marriage because a gay couple or a lesbian couple can not produce children inside their union. There has to be a third party involved, which once again violates the definition of marriage. Granted not all marriages can produce children either, but no gay union can. Conservatives who know the definition of marriage continue to use the phrase gay marriage, thus giving life to something that doesn’t exist every time they use it. If gay marriage were in fact a marriage, it would be called a marriage, and not a gay marriage. This term is meant to destroy the meaning of marriage so that it never again only means between a man and a woman.
We are fighting a language war here. To win it, we have to change our language. Use “gay union, gay bond, domestic partner” or any other term. Maybe conservatives should settle on one term? You can be pro gay-union, and support benefits similar to marriage for gay unions. So this is in no way anti-gay, just pro-marriage, and those are two completely separate issues. One of the serious traps of this debate is allowing the perception that preserving the definition of marriage in any way seeks to keep gay couples apart or from bonding in permanent relationships. It does not. However, because those bonds are different than marriages, they have to have a different name. This linkage is used to characterize conservatives as “homophobic” as a way to squash the debate. This is not an issue of homophobia because nothing said here indicates a phobia. A phobia, which is an unreasonable fear in an individual, is completely different than the majority population taking a position on a critical debate. Gay couples are free to perform whatever ceremonies they want, and even call themselves married, bonded, whatever, so long as in law and official english language, the real definition, status and practice of marriage, is not touched.
Nowhere is it more obvious as to why language is critical to preserving marriage than when Governor Gerry Brown and the Attorney General’s office of California changed the language on both the title and the summary of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to preserve and uphold the definition of marriage. From the Sacramento Bee, July 28th, 2008, comes the following:
“Here’s the new title and summary:
ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.
INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments.
Here’s the old one:
LIMIT ON MARRIAGE. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state.”
The new title is completely biased, prejudicial, propagandistic, and probably is responsible for a much lower margin of victory than would have happened with the original definition people signed up for on their petitions. The new one changed the fiscal impact report as well.
The phrase “Eliminates the Right of Same Sex Couples to Marry,” makes three critical errors. 1. By the established definition of marriage, same sex couples aren’t married. 2. Marriage is not a right because it is not exercised by an individual, nor is it an unalienable birthright. It is a contract with God and the state, and has qualifications and rules to engage in it and maintain it. 3. No rights have been eliminated because no rights had first been created. Any one of these three should have required an accurate replacement title.
We Americans love our rights. In phrasing this as a denial of same sex couples right to marry, those of us who have to engage the debate to preserve marriage look like the bad guys, where the real bad guys are the ones destroying marriage by professing an imaginary right and violating the definition of marriage. So let’s title the next proposition this way: “Prevents the Redefinition and Elimination of Marriage.”
As conservatives we can help the cause. Never use the term gay marriage. When someone does, ask them “what is that?” and make them tell you why they have a term for something that doesn’t exist. Never say “same sex marriage, opposite sex marriage, heterosexual marriage, homosexual marriage, or any other qualifying term. Write headlines in conservative news sources to accurately reflect the truth. For example. Instead of “Federal Judge Overturns Ban on Gay Marriage,” state it as “Federal Judge Usurps Unconstitutional Authority to Destroy Marriage.” Federal judges can not legally rule on this using the 14th Amendment, even though they do, because marriages aren’t rights. The Equal Protection clause doesn’t apply because nothing is equal to a marriage. The Constitution through the 10th Amendment leaves marriage law to the states. And so the governors of states with rogue federal judge rulings should ignore those rulings completely and uphold state law preserving marriage.
If we use proper language and use it consistently, we can change the debate. But first we have to recognize when the language of the Left is being used to manipulate the argument, to win sympathy for a cause, to make conservatives, libertarians and constitutionalists feel bad for what we believe, and to not fall into the trap of repeating the terms and phrases of the Left to make something real, at the same time we are trying to preserve something long established and completely different.
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