Obama and the Abolition of Marriage

“Do not doubt the direction we are headed and the destination we will reach.”

With those words to gay activists at the annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) fundraiser this month, President Obama again signaled — with the wink-and-a-nod style with which he is so adept — his support for same-sex marriage.

Few people believe the president when he insists he opposes gay nuptials. But the more significant issue is not whether the Obama administration’s “destination” on marriage is same-sex marriage. It clearly is.  The key issue is whether, based on who the president surrounds himself with, the administration will put us on the slippery slope toward the end of government recognition of marriage altogether.

Consider Chai Feldblum, Obama’s commissioner on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She is an avowed supporter of polygamy. In 2006, she signed a manifest titled “Beyond Marriage,” which advocated “legal recognition for a wide range of relationships, households and families — regardless of kinship or conjugal status,” including “households in which there is more than one conjugal partner.”  

Then there is Cass Sunstein, whom Obama tapped to be administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Sunstein proposes to abolish traditional marriage as a state-sponsored institution. In his 2008 book Nudge, he says marriage discriminates against single people, bringing them “serious” disadvantages. Sunstein writes:

“Official marriage licenses also have the unfortunate consequence of dividing the world into the status of those who are married and those who are single in a way that produces serious economic and material disadvantages. …Why not leave people’s relationships to their own choices, subject to the judgments of private organizations, religious or otherwise?”

These weren’t private comments made decades ago by obscure bureaucrats and taken out of context by conservative pundits. They are very recent remarks quoted directly from close Obama advisors. You would think that the president would have publicly distanced himself from the views of his close advisors, but that hasn’t happened.  

Perhaps there was something to an editorial last November at the website titled, “Obama’s Historic election gives hope to polygamous Americans.”  If polygamists felt hopeful about President Obama, how should the rest of us feel?

Conservatives have long argued that same-sex marriage would put America on a slippery slope to polygamy. If marriage is not limited to one man and one woman, what is the legal justification for limiting it to just two people?  And once marriage can mean anything, it will mean nothing at all.  

It is odd that those seeking to substantially alter or dissolve marriage should emerge now, just as a consensus has formed that married people are healthier, wealthier and happier than their single counterparts.

Recently, the non-partisan Child Trends concluded, “Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage…There is thus value in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.”

Research also suggests that one reason children do better in traditional married households is not just the stability of having two parents, but that male and female parents bring distinctive strengths, perspectives, and characteristics to the family that benefit children. Empirical research and intuition support the idea that mothers and fathers each have something valuable and unique to offer to their children’s development.  

But the forces are work here are fueled by pure politics and the desires of the extreme left.

Obama has already done a lot for the gay rights movement. He has called for the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which would allow open homosexuality in the military. He has named as ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa an open homosexual, and he has extended health and other benefits to the domestic partners of federal employees.

And on Wednesday Obama signed a federal “hate crimes” bill into law that violates the “equal protection” clause of the Constitution. If your grandmother is mugged it’s a local crime. But if a gay activist is mugged it could be a federal offense.  

Still gay activists won’t be satisfied until gay marriage is forced on Americans from Maine to Maui. And while Obama has said repeatedly that he supports civil unions but not gay marriage, most Americans don’t believe him.  A recent US News and World Report poll found that 72 percent of respondents believe he is lying when says he opposes same-sex marriage.  

Perhaps people are thinking of Obama’s recently discovered 1996 candidate questionnaire in which he wrote, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

Many surely remember his vocal opposition to Proposition 8, California’s state’s marriage amendment, and his stated desire to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman and ensures that states aren’t forced to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

They may have also heard statements like the one he made to loud applause at the HRC event, “You will see a time in which we as a nation finally recognize relationships between two men or two women as just as real and admirable as relationships between a man and a woman.”

Gay activists understand what statements like that mean. As HRC president Joe Solmonese says about Obama:

“It’s hard for me to believe that in his heart he’s truly opposed to same-sex marriage.  Maybe it’s something he’s working to get his head around. When you look at who he is and what his life experiences are and who he surrounds himself by and the transformative political figure he is, it’s hard to imagine he genuinely opposes it.”  

For the first time, I find myself agreeing with the Human Rights Campaign. It’s hard to imagine Obama genuinely opposes same-sex marriage. But, based on the people Obama surrounds himself with, it’s easy to imagine something even more extreme — the effective abolition of marriage itself.