The amendment campaigns also serve to illuminate relevant issues. The campaigns against marriage amendments have typically focused on anything but the effects that a new adult-centered marriage institution would have in society. Rather, they attempt to change the subject by charging that the amendments will do more than just define marriage or by saying that amendments are not necessary because current law already defines marriage (an argument available everywhere but California). Thus, the anti-amendment campaigns have never attempted to offer a full-throated case for same-sex marriage.
Conversely, the pro-amendment campaigns have typically talked about nothing else but marriage. Contrary to the common charge that such amendments are “anti-gay,” the campaigns have carefully focused on the importance of husband-and-wife marriage, particularly for children.
California has witnessed a new development — an emphasis on the well-documented implications for religious liberty and other social norms of redefining marriage. In states with same-sex marriage or an equivalent status, there have been ample illustrations of such implications. They include changes in school curriculum, discrimination lawsuits against religious believers uncomfortable with equating same-sex and husband-and-wife marriages, and limitations on religious groups (see Massachusetts Catholic Charities, for instance).
These constitutional amendments are an important protection to society’s most basic institution. They protect children’s opportunity to know and be raised by their own mother and father. They are an increasingly important protection of religious liberty, and a bulwark to real pluralism. We haven’t heard the last of this constitutional movement yet.
– William C. Duncan is the director of the Marriage Law Foundation.