Not every love will make us happy. We know this in our bones: “He’s no good for you” or “she’s making you miserable” or “I know you love walking the dog, grandma, but he’s going to knock you down.” And yet, the U.S. Congress is about to pass a bill into law that runs directly against this obvious, freeing truth: that we need to love the right things, in the right way, at the right time, in the right measure for our loves to make us happy.
The so-called Respect for Marriage bill, slinking its way through Congress during the current lame-duck session, claims to protect and respect marriage between any two individuals. The problem with this claim is two-fold.
First, it is obviously wrong on its face that marriage between any two people is worthy of respect or protection. If California’s legislature introduced, let’s say, the Malibu Child Bride bill and it was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who would be willing to say such awful marriages of adults to young minors were worthy of respect?
“But they consented,” one might reply. Did they though? Yet, regardless of our inability to peer into the hearts of perverse adults and abused children, we need not respect or protect such marriages. But that is exactly what this bill says we all must do, each of us, in our states, in our communities, in our businesses, schools, and churches, and in our very persons before the public. The bill claims the opposite of the truth and demands by law that we all chant as one: “Every love will make us happy!” Alas, we know the truth: Not every love will make us happy.
The second problem with the bill’s claim to protect marriage between any two individuals is that it is obvious to all that many, many Americans not only know, but deeply believe, both morally and religiously, that same, timeless truth: Not every love will make us happy. In fact, today many Americans, like nearly all Americans in the previous millennium, consider marriage to be a special institution designed for the sexual love of man and woman.
Many Americans uphold this kind of sexual love as a kind of love that will make us happy; conversely, they both think and believe that marriage between a child and adult, a man and man, or a woman and woman is a contradiction in terms, because the purpose of using the word “marriage” is for the pair to declare to the world that “this love will make us happy.”
And if the pair declares that, then the pair will also demand that others who may not think such a love will lead the pair to happiness must nevertheless, as the bill title puts it, “respect” and protect that love as a “marriage.” The pair will attempt to force those other people to pretend that they think and believe as the pair does. The pair will attempt to coerce many, many Americans to declare in speech and deed something we all know to be false: “Every love will make us happy!” — even though we all know the truth: Not every love will make us happy.
That is, the so-called Respect for Marriage bill, if it becomes law, will demand that some of us lie to our fellow Americans precisely about which loves will make us all happy. Good Americans won’t lie to their neighbors, and so the law will attack people speaking and living out their thoughts and beliefs. But also, if we cannot share with our fellow Americans which loves we think will make all of us happy, then this bill-become-unjust-law will violate the great family of our inalienable rights and the great family of Americans.
How so? To see more clearly how truly awful this bill would be, let’s put several of our rights into action. Some Americans will be misguided by this bill and believe it is now illegal to hold that some loves are not good, especially any kind of love between any two people. Those same misguided Americans will think it is now wrong if others, who disagree with them, attempt to help their fellow Americans pursue happiness on the true premise that not every love will make us happy.
Instead of freedom of speech to discuss which loves are good for us, instead of counsel and discussion to determine clearly the details of the principle that not every love is good for us, instead of allowing for a robust communal and individual life, in liberty, pursuing happiness, with religious liberty and freedom of speech for all, this disrespectful bill, if made law, will encourage one group to say to another, “Shut up! Every love will make us happy! Shut! Up!”
And that group, with this law, would have the power to sue anyone or any institution that refuses to lie to them or that openly shares with them any applicable version of the simple truth we all know to be the case: “Not every love will make us happy.” What a terrible and un-American bill, so directly to attack our inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. How sorrowful and unwise to drive Americans apart on the basis of a lie. What an injustice to enshrine into scare-quoted “law” a prohibition against the individual American’s conscience as it pursues happiness guided by the obviously true principle that not every love is good for us.
Now the House of Representatives is preparing to unleash this bill upon the public, and Rules Committee Chairman Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) mocked the concern of many Americans and their representatives, who argue rightly that the bill ought at least to include more protections for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It’s good to consider Rep. McGovern’s dismissive thinking: “If we were to amend this [bill], and it goes back to the Senate, for all intents and purposes it’s dead for the year. And many of us believe that we have a court right now that is hell-bent on trying to reverse the rights for the LGBTQ community, and we do not trust them to respect marriage equality in this country.”
The reasoning is, as you might imagine, specious. Obergefell, not unlike Roe, attempted through judicial usurpation, to declare debate over which loves are good for us suddenly settled and unconstitutional. That’s very clearly a violation of our equal rights.
Rep. McGovern, speaking for the Democrat leadership in the House (and Senate and White House, I suppose), might have more honestly spoken like this: “The court may allow for the continued discussion in the states about which loves are good for us, so we Democrats in Congress are going to make it illegal to discuss which loves with respect to marriage are good for us all. In fact, this bill, we hope, will silence anyone who ever questions that some loves may not be good for us. All loves are good for us.” Now, Rep. McGovern is not wholly known for such piercing insight, so he put his argument more in keeping with the received spin of the day. And that, alas, is to be expected.
But for those of us who truly care for this country, who respect the inalienable rights of our fellow Americans, and who know that laws that lie are not laws in truth, we must oppose the so-called Respect for Marriage bill not just for the sake of our own rights and liberties but for the sake of continued, loving friendship among all Americans, as we work out the details of that fundamental truth: Not every love will make us happy.