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Catholic Culture Dedication

How same-sex marriage erodes personal freedom and enhances state power

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 11, 2014

Stella Morabito has done us all a real service, with her readable and cogent analysis of the drive for same-sex marriage, now appearing on the Federalist site.

This whole argument isn’t really about allowing homosexuals to marry, Morabito explains. It’s about abolishing marriage as an institution recognized by the government. And that, she explains, is a prospect that should fighten anyone, regardless of one’s attitudes on marriage.

With the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, government radically redefines the term “marriage.” Whereas in the past the state recognized marriage as a social reality pre-dating the state itself, now the state declares that it can decide which unions constitute marriages. That represents an enormous shift in power, away from individuals and couples and families and toward the government.

Morabito writes:

Without civil marriage, the family can no longer exist autonomously and serve as a wall of separation between the individual and the state. This has huge implications for the survival of freedom of association.

For centuries, society has recognized marriage as the institution that creates a family, and the family in turn as the fundamental institution that is the basic building-block of any civilization. An individual’s primary allegiance is to the family. The family home is the governed by the family itself, not by the state. Morabito again:

If marriage and family are permitted to exist autonomously, power can be de-centralized in society. So the family has always been a thorn in the side of central planners and totalitarians.

Now, in the drive to legalize same-sex marriage, proponents of a powerful central government have found a new means of breaking down that resistance. If the government can decide what a family is, it’s a very short step to add that the government will decide what the family does. To quote Morabito one more time, “The presumption of family autonomy and privacy informs our right to freely associate with others – through romances, friendships, business contracts, and so on. It would be catastrophic to freedom if we threw it away.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Jul. 12, 2017 9:23 AM ET USA

    "Cardinal Robert Sarah’s current term as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship won’t end until November 2019." But then at that point, he'd better be prepared.

  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 10, 2017 11:33 PM ET USA

    It seems to be all about Amoris Laetitia, the pet project of Pope Francis. I am afraid that individuals who wish to advance quickly in the hierarchy know that all they need to do is praise AL for its brilliance and clarity. Some of the new cardinals come to mind.

  • Posted by: Philopus - Jul. 10, 2017 5:02 PM ET USA

    Should I hold my breath in anticipation?

  • Posted by: gary.brisebois1104 - Apr. 23, 2014 6:28 PM ET USA

    Lately I have been thinking the government should just get out of the marriage business entirely. But from what Morabito says, this is exactly what the statists want me to want. Destroy the institution bit by bit, until it means nothing and the family is gone. "When everyone is a Super, then no one will be." - Syndrome, in "The Incredibles".

  • Posted by: mleiberton3126 - Apr. 17, 2014 1:13 PM ET USA

    Ms. Morabitos's perspective is based on facts which "fit." Yes, the logical consequence of the facts is truly troubling. It is totalitarian. Today, of all days, we must seek solace from the Truth of our existence and disregard the lies from the woolen-clothed wolves who surround us. Our Bread, Our Truth, Our Life: Grant us your wisdom, and save us.