THE BLOG
08/07/2014 02:02 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Marriage Equality and the Factually Challenged

Anti-gay campaigner John Eastman, Chair of the hateful National Organization for (sic) Marriage, says: "We keep making the argument of the importance of marriage, that it takes a man and a woman to make a child and that the state can't continue to redefine that if civilization's policy goal is to support families rather than water down marriage to be about any adult relationship. These judges keep saying that's not what marriage is. Based on what? It's like we're in Stalinist Russia." The mere fact that Eastman could say something so absurd is evidence that we are NOT "in Stalinist Russia."

It is useful to remember what happened there. You might remember things such as the massive string of Siberian concentration camps. Secret police would round people up to be convicted without evidence and denied any kind of reasonable defense. There was genocide in the form of a planned famine against Ukraine. Stalin invaded the Baltic States and began a campaign against Jews there. Millions were imprisoned, starved or executed; free speech was impossible, and political opposition banned.

Eastman confuses losing a legal argument with not being allowed to make one. Given how NOM-types have been cheering anti-gay repression by Stalin Jr., Vladimir Putin, it is a bit hypocritical to whine about being victims of a Stalinist legal system.

Eastman falsifies history. You know someone is uninformed about marriage when they say "civilization's policy goal is to support families...." The reality is that civilization has had many different policies regarding marriage and the purpose of marriage has continually changed. There was no one goal, but rather many goals.

The Apostle Paul's view of marriage was it was inferior to celibacy, justified only if individuals were unable to resist evil sex. "NOW concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband... But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they continue, even as I. [celibate] But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt." He thought sex sinful and only justified by marriage. The main reason to marry is if "they do not contain themselves" because marriage is better than fornication.

The goal of marriage was legitimizing sex, of which children might be a consequence. It wasn't a pro-family inspiration, however; it was an anti-sexual one. John Witte Jr. noted that Paul's anti-sexual views became more and more widespread so that the "late Church Fathers... revealed an increasing preference for virginity, celibacy, and monastic chastity -- sometimes pressing their preference to the point of outright opposition to intercourse and even to marriage itself. By the late fourth century, it was commonplace to treat marriage as the least virtuous Christian estate and to countenance sexual intercourse only for the purpose of procreation. As St. Ambrose of Milan put it: '[T]he virtue of chastity is threefold; one kind that of married life, a second that of widowhood, and a third that is virginity' -- with the last on the list first in priority.'" As far as Augustine saw things the main "good" of marriage was that it "at least mitigated the sinfulness of marriage."

A different Christian viewpoint was that of the Puritan John Milton. He argued that Genesis established marriage, not to avoid fornication per se, but because God said: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Companionship was the purpose of marriage, to "refresh... against the evils of solitary life."

If you've read the rulings of which Eastman is complaining, one thing is common from state to state -- judges found anti-marriage arguments wanting. One deficiency, of many, has been the means used are not even consistent with the goals. Eastman has argued same-sex marriage somehow undermines support for families and will "water down marriage." Eastman and his fellow campaigners never explain the magical process by which this takes place. How does preventing gay parents -- who are raising a family -- from marrying, "support families?" Do the means -- banning marriage -- lead to the goal of protecting families?

No nation or state that has legalized same-sex marriage has seen any kind of seismic shift in marriage. In many places, marriage rates for heterosexuals increased and birth rates went up. No destruction of marriage is apparent.

What does Eastman mean by families? Are older childless couples a family or not? Do young couples only become a "family" after giving birth? If the prime purpose of marriage is having children then many marriages are NOT legitimate marriages. Couples unable to have children, due to medical reasons or age, are not married. Some would argue it is Eastman who is changing marriage.

Eastman's comparison of the judicial system to "Stalin's Russia" is almost as ludicrous as the legal arguments he uses. NOM is factually challenged, in that they twist facts or just make them up to serve their ends.

Eastman argued the reason he is losing isn't because he's full of crap, but because a cadre of "activist political judges" are ruling against him. He claims Democrats appointed these judges, "This is just raw politics." Sadly for him, however, he is once again making up facts. Reporter Steve Friess notes, "just seven of the 22 federal judges who have ruled in the various cases since Windsor were appointees of Democrat presidents;" Republicans appointed the rest. Nor should we forget that a Reagan appointee decided the Prop 8 case and Justice Anthony Kennedy, another Reagan appointee, wrote the Windsor decision.

It would appear that facts and John Eastman barely have a passing acquaintance.

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