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Ken Masugi- Columnist

Ken Masugi is the Director of the Claremont Institute's Center for Local Government. Its purpose is to apply the principles of the American Founding to the theory and practice of local government, the cradle of American self-government. Dr. Masugi has extensive experience in government and academia. Following his initial appointment at the Claremont Institute (1982-86), he was a special assistant to then-Chairman Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After his years in Washington, he held visiting university appointments including Olin Distinguished Visiting Professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Dr. Masugi is co-author with Brian Janiskee of both The California Republic: Institutions, Statesmanship, and Policies (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004) and Democracy in California: Politics and Government in the Golden State (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). He is co-editor of six books on political thought, including The Supreme Court and American Constitutionalism with Branford P. Wilson, (Ashbrook Series, 1997); The Ambiguous Legacy of the Enlightenment with William Rusher, (University Press, 1995); The American Founding with J. Jackson Barlow and Leonard W. Levy, (Greenwood Press, 1988). He is the editor of Interpreting Tocqueville's Democracy in America, (Rowman & Littlefield, 1991). [go to Masugi index]

Welcome Vermont!
Los Angeles Times
On Same-Sex Marriage

[Ken Masugi] 3/16/05

I just concluded a radio interview with Laurie Morrow, conservative radio broadcaster out of Vermont. I have enjoyed being a regular guest on her show. We in California acquired the Vermont virus in full-blown measure through our civil union law, but one judge in San Francisco radicalized the situation further. Agreeing with the decision, which struck down the limitation of marriage to men and women (see Proposition 22), the Los Angels Times concludes in its editorial:

The judge argues that forbidding same-sex marriage is gender discrimination. A better argument would be that gays are a classic example of a group that needs constitutional protection from the tyranny of the majority. There is no special reason to assume that the Constitution's framers would disagree with that analysis if they were living in today's society.

But where does a right to marriage come out of all this? Is it “tyranny” that limits marriage to those of an opposite sex (and of proper age and non-blood relationship)? Or is this recognition for an institution that has always been in need of societal (and religious) protection? To extend marriage to all erotic relationships is highly questionable—both for heterosexuals and homosexuals. What some small number of homosexuals wish is the state’s blessing of same-sex relationships. It is certainly not discrimination against them to withhold that recognition, once we acknowledge the uniqueness of marriage.

This is more than just a fight to preserve “tradition” or even the force of religion in contemporary life. It is about protecting an institution that perpetuates by its very nature and existence teachings about justice, duty, education, and respect that are not replicable any other way. Men and women are different but are united for a unique and trying purpose. Rejecting the family of husband and wife means a terrible disjunction from the most basic means of civilizing children. If a same-sex couple may do this, why not some other institution, say a commune? See our Washington Fellow Bill Bennett on same-sex unions.

This is ultimately about the coherence of the Declaration of Independence, which teaches about human nature, rights, and happiness the basis of our constitutional government.

The California Supreme Court should take this view into consideration. Its own legitimacy rests on principles they may not choose to articulate but which are understood to be present by the framers of constitutional government. CRO

copyright 2005 Claremont Institute.


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