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Op-ed: Massacre of marriage endangers the republic

Published December 24, 2013 11:22 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In one week, New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage through its state supreme court; a federal district court in Utah decriminalized polygamous marriages; and through yet a different federal district court, Utah became the 18th state to legalize same-sex marriage ("Judge denies AG's request to halt same-sex marriages," Tribune, Dec. 23).

These dramatic changes are a result of rulings that many consider judicial activism. The result of these and other rulings around the nation are in effect massacring the institution of traditional marriage and morality, and no less important, demonstrating disdain against the will of the majority.

When judges rule against the will of the majority on matters of marriage and moral standards — standards in place since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and supported by the people, their state and federal representatives and all levels of the judiciary for centuries — they rob the people of reasonable recourse.

The judiciary's disregard for the will of the majority and centuries of legislative intent and judicial precedent inevitably produces doubt and distrust in the government. When the majority feels threatened because of governmental disdain towards its interests, it is often difficult to predict the extent of the public's reaction. Historically, similar conditions have often triggered protests and even civil disobedience.

The public unavoidably feels violated after its long-standing social and civil standards are thrown out by judicial fiat. Their outrage is intensified as time-honored standards they have respected and obeyed are all at once discarded by court ruling declaring them to be unconstitutional.

To many, it is the personal agenda of judges overriding their will, not constitutional principles. This view provokes not only contempt towards the judiciary but also the rule of law, which should reflect the constitutional will of the majority and necessarily holds the Republic together in relative peace and tranquility.

Benjamin Franklin, when asked what kind of government he and the other Founding Fathers had given the people, immediately responded: "A republic, if you can keep it." Last week the judiciary made it difficult for the majority to faithfully "keep" the republic, especially when its will has been overruled by anything but constitutional principle or judicial precedent. It is unknown how the majority is going to react in the coming months to the judicial adventurism it is being subjected to, but if its will continues to be contravened and if history is any indicator, all should be sobered by what the future holds for the Republic.

If added to the affront of the judiciary ignoring the majority's will on marriage and morality, members of the majority have their constitutional rights of speech and religious freedom supplanted by the new "sexual civil rights," then divisions will develop in the republic never before seen in this generation.

Forcing the majority to give up its constitutional rights for judicial activism protecting sexual activities heretofore held to be immoral is not only unfair, but will expose the nation to unrestrained enmity. The judiciary should be much more circumspect over what it is unleashing.

Stuart C. Reid is a Utah state senator from Ogden.