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The Confederate Lawyer
April 13, 2011

The Shameful Legacy of the 20th Century:
the Destruction of the Family

by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

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 to legal 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.

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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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