Rights and Licenses

Member Group : From the Kitchen Table

Those intent on redefining marriage consistently couch their arguments in terms of their "right" to be married. In doing so, they completely miss the difference between a right, and a government license.

We have the right to determine our living arrangements. We can live alone, with parents, children, siblings, other relatives, or friends. We can live in a single family dwelling, a townhouse, an apartment, or a tent. No one is disputing that right, and it is equally available to all.

But the gay marriage advocates are not asking for the right to determine their own living arrangements. They are seeking that the government sanction those living arrangements with a license. They want the same license that is currently given by the state to the committed, monogamous, conjugal union between one man and one woman, which we call a marriage license. That license incurs certain responsibilities on the couple receiving it, and it accords certain benefits.

A license is not a right. A license means that the government is either giving permission to engage in an activity, such as driving, or it is recognizing that a certain activity is beneficial to society and therefore should be encouraged.

The union between one man and one woman is the most studied relationship on the planet. The studies have examined every aspect of such a union and have found it to be universally beneficial.

The man and the woman themselves live longer lives in better health, both mental and physical, than people in any other population group. They are the least likely to live below the poverty line, and therefore to require financial assistance from the government. They are the least likely to engage in criminal activities. They are the least likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. The studies even report that they express the highest level of satisfaction with their sex lives.

The children who are raised within a one man and one woman marriage, where the man and the woman are their actual parents (biological or adoptive), achieve higher levels of academic success than children raised in any other circumstances. They are the most likely to finish school and find and keep employment as adults. They are also the least likely to engage in criminal activities, abuse drugs or alcohol, or require government support services.

By every measure the relationship that we know as marriage has proven itself to be uniquely beneficial to the participants, and the children who result from it. From the standpoint of the larger society, those who participate in marriage are the most likely to become taxpayers and the least likely to become tax burdens. So marriage is good for society.

The government license does not create this situation, it simply recognizes that it already exists. The marriage license is unique because the benefits of marriage are unique.

If any other relationship can bring that level of research to the table, proving that it matches the universal level of benefits that flow from the committed, monogamous, conjugal relationship between one man and one woman, let them do so.

Thus far, no one has been able to.

Unless someone does, there is no factual basis for redefining marriage in our society. And responsible government policies sh