June 23, 2004

June 23, 2004 | News Releases on Family and Marriage

Massachusetts Governor Defends Traditional Marriage at Heritage

WASHINGTON, JUNE 22, 2004-Most advocates of same-sex marriage insist they have no agenda other than ending discrimination. But they propose nothing less than a radical redefinition of the fundamental institution of society-a redefinition that could place our nation's children at risk, according to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Speaking at The Heritage Foundation today, the governor said marriage is "key to a successful society," adding that if the definition is stretched to cover all types of relationships, it will cease to mean anything. The evolution that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is dictating, which would turn marriage into a mere contract between any two people, is a clear break with tradition-one that could have serious ramifications, he said.

Romney pointed to social science data, which overwhelmingly show children do far better when a married mother and father raise them in a stable family relationship. That, he said, is why society has a compelling interest in encouraging stable, long-term family relationships. It's also why every major society and every major religion, for thousands of years, have limited marriage to the union of man and woman.

"The court erred because they looked only at adults," Romney said. "They forgot the children. But what about their rights?" Every child is entitled to a mother and a father, he said, noting that we should think twice about ushering in a society that-good intentions aside-would ignore this basic truth.

The governor also noted the fact that, as a society, we have little information concerning children raised in households with same-sex parents. It will take at least a generation, and probably several, for the societal implications and effects of such unions to be known, Romney said, so we need to be more cautious about allowing such sweeping change.

We need to think about the other changes that redefining marriage would bring, he said. Take school textbooks, for one; they would have to be changed to indicate indifference between heterosexual and homosexual couples. The governor noted that, in his state, the question of how birth certificates should be worded has been raised as well: Should they say "Parent A" and "Parent B," instead of "mother" and "father"?

Romney emphasized that he had no interest in promoting discrimination and that he opposes intolerance and prejudice. But you can uphold the right of each person to live his life as he sees fit without redefining marriage out of existence, he said.

"Same-sex marriage won't affect my marriage, and it won't affect your marriage," he said. But it will affect the children in our society and therefore affect the future of our society-and that's why we shouldn't shrug off the challenge posed by calls for same-sex marriage.

In the meantime, he said, we should move to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Many observers on both sides of the issue are understandably reluctant to take such a major step, but the issue is too important for us not to start the amendment process-which, he noted, necessarily involves significant state input.

There's also the issue of federalism. "Our state has begun to assert power over other states," Romney said. Same-sex couples marriage in Massachusetts will move, and then what? Are their marriages automatically disbanded? What about child support? What happens when a same-sex union conflicts with a particular state's Defense of Marriage Act?

It's a shame that proponents of traditional marriage have to face these issues now, Romney said. But the courts are effectively forcing them to do so.

The governor was introduced by Edwin Meese III, the Ronald Reagan Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, who reiterated the think tank's support for a constitutional amendment to protect marriage. Heritage research on marriage can be found online at heritage.org/research/ family/issues2004.cfm.

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