Guest Column (4/16/09)

Legislating morality

April 16, 2009

By Patrick Delaney

Last week our Legislature overstepped its lines of legislating laws into legislating morality. For thousands of years, the worldwide accepted practice of marriage, both secular and religious, has been between one man and one woman.

Legally, this was affirmed in the United States in 1996 with the Defense of Marriage Act, and signed into law by President Clinton. In an act of equal and civil rights, Vermont provided equal recognition of couples of any gender setup via civil unions.

For many years, and to a greater level throughout the world in the last 15 years, the topic of gay marriage has been widely debated, with varying outcomes. A few have banned it, with penalties as severe as death. The majority of the world, though, does not recognize marriage outside of the bond between one man and one woman.

France addressed this topic in 2006, with a “Report on the Family and the Rights of Children,” which concluded with a rejection of the same-sex marriage. This report commented, “The interest of the child must take precedence over adults’ exercise of their freedom … including the lifestyle choice of parents.” In a monogamous marriage, gay spouses cannot become biological parents.

This year’s Legislature, in the midst of multiple crises, has taken up this topic, and in opposition to national law, has gone beyond our national and international standards with the new gay marriage law. In the April 9 Williston Observer, Rep. Jim McCullough was quoted as saying, “Vermonters are proud to be free-thinking … and now we’ve made another step in the nation’s understanding” with this new law. When this override occurred, the school day at CVU was interrupted to announce the news of the override, to a group of people of whom the vast majority are too young to marry.

If I looked out for the immediate wishes of our current generation, without respect to children and future generations, along with total disregard of the traditional value of marriage, then I guess the nation understands you, Rep. McCullough, and the 99 others who voted as you did.

Patrick Delaney is a Williston resident.