Lawyer: "Marriage is Not an Injustice"


Scott Lloyd writes at HLI America:

Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland, a Catholic, wrote the following in response to his Bishop’s criticism of his announcement over the summer that he would actively work to redefine marriage in Maryland:

"I have concluded that discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation in the context of civil marital rights is unjust."

The governor’s statement is helpful in that it contains two errors that are common to the advocacy for the redefinition of marriage; those who seek to defend marriage need to be prepared to identify and correct them.

The first error is the assertion that traditional marriage and efforts to defend it discriminate “against individuals.” This is in many cases an intentional falsehood, I believe: a distinction drawn between two types of relationships is not an instance of unjust discrimination against individuals. In the first place, the law distinguishes among relationships frequently. It treats husband and wife differently than it does uncle and niece, or teacher and student, and it does so with good reason. Second, one who is attracted to a person of the same sex remains free to marry in the same way everyone else can marry—to a person of the opposite sex. A person attracted to the Catholic priesthood or religious life also has the right to marriage—a marriage to a person of the opposite sex. The problem in both cases, if one could call it a problem, is not that the law bars anyone from the relationship, but rather that the individuals aren’t attracted to participate in the institution. The distinction in the law is a legitimate distinction between two types of relationships, not between two classes of individuals.