GLEN COVE, NY — The twentieth century saw an unprecedented
attack on American marriage and the family. Society has been composed
of families since the creation of man or at least shortly thereafter.
By the time of Noah and the flood, the idea of the family was acknowledged
by all. The family has always been founded on marriage.
For thousands of years, the family survived with little change. There
were periods in which certain societies practiced polygamy and, very
rarely, polyandry. This was the only significant exception to the normal
family of husband, wife, and children, natural or adopted.
In the nineteenth century, the Mormons tried to introduce polygamy
into a Western country for the first time. This attempt was rejected
four times by the United States Supreme Court. A few small movements
favored “free sex” or sexual anarchy, or the end of sex,
but they got nowhere.
By the dawn of the twentieth century, family law in the United States
was little different from what it had been for the preceding 1,500
years. Divorce was available for few reasons — usually adultery, danger
to the life of the spouse, or life in prison.
Nevada, however, discovered that it could create an industry by granting
divorces for mental cruelty. The Supreme Court cooperated by ruling
that if both spouses agreed they lived in Nevada, that agreement could
not be challenged. The Nevada divorce opened the door to divorce by
agreement, freezing out the larger society as an interested party.
By the second half of the twentieth century, many states had abandoned
the concept that one party to a divorce had to be at fault. Furthermore,
even in no-fault divorces, some states did not require consent. Gradually,
the whole concept of permanency in marriage has been lost.
In the 1930s, another change occurred. Most Protestants dropped their
opposition to artificial contraception. Eventually, even in the two
states in which strong Catholic majorities adopted as their own the
old Protestant laws against contraception, the Supreme Court invalidated
these laws and invented, without any basis, a right to contraception.
Congress started financing widespread contraception. The Supreme Court
gradually extended its holding to a broad right to kill babies before
they were born. The Supreme Court had not only destroyed the permanency
of marriage; it had also destroyed its procreative purpose.
Today, a third pillar of marriage is under attack. Some Courts have
ruled that the parties to a marriage need not be of opposite sexes,
and that conspiracies to commit sodomy must be recognized as marriages.
President Obama seems to agree. In Maryland, there is an attempt to
enact legislation to declare homosexual unions “marriages,” just
as courts in California and Massachusetts have done.
Recognizing homosexual combinations as marriages leads logically
polygamy. In the 1940s, the Supreme Court held that it violated
the Mann Act for a Mormon to take multiple wives across state lines.
This holding will be logically impossible if the concept of one man-one
woman per marriage is abandoned.
A society not built around families is radically inferior to the
society our ancestors bequeathed to us. A society in which permanency,
a husband, a wife, and children are not characteristics of marriage
is not a marriage-based society. The destruction of marriage as a building
block of the greater society may be the worst part of the legacy of
the twentieth century.
The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2011
by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com.
All rights reserved.
Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the
New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in
many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles
about the law.
See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.
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