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Why the state should not re-define marriage

January 30, 2012

In a short but penetrating essay for The Public Discourse, Patrick Lee explains that laws defining marriage as a permanent union between a man and a woman are not discriminatory:

A law is unjust only if the distinction it creates is not essentially related to a legitimate purpose of law.

In fact society has excellent reasons for giving special preference to marriage, Lee argues, since marriage alone is a bodily union that fulfills the spouses and allows for the rearing of children. No other household arrangement has the same characteristics, which are absolutely crucial to the health of society.

Lee explains why, for the sake of the common good, the bonds of marriage must be both exclusive and permanent. In other partnerships the need for exclusivity and permanence—the essential traits of marriage as recognized by law—are not obvious.


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  • Posted by: FredC - Jan. 31, 2012 1:32 PM ET USA

    Secularists are more convinced by data than by principle. They consider principles arbitrary. The argument is better made by citing the data on the performance and behavior of children from stable marriages.