It is rumored the Indiana Legislature will soon take up the matter of a constitu-tional amendment to restrict marriage to a man and woman. I have before written that this is a poor use of our legislators’ time, but I believe we should have an honest discussion among ourselves about the matter. Here is what I will say to my kids over dinner this Sunday night.
First, I will tell them constitutions are mighty things that bind us together in ways that should not be subject to fashion, and, like many soldiers, I carried a small copy of the U.S. Constitution folded carefully in my helmet throughout Desert Storm. We Hoosiers mustn’t become too cavalier in amending ours; the major public opinion shift on gay marriage ought to be sufficient to give us pause. I will tell my kids that in this matter we must be ready to be judged right by future generations.
Second, I will explain to my kids (ages 9, 13 and 14) how lucky they are to be living in an intact family. They will understand this, for they know how hard it is for friends with single parents. I will explain to them those folks who wish to ban gay marriage also know and understand how family problems bedevil the nation. Sure, I will tell them some people hate gay people, but most simply want to make marriage more sacred and enduring. I will explain to my kids that a full one-third of our national budget goes to fixing the ills of broken families, and those who seek to improve marriage are mostly filled with worry, not hate. Still, I shall remind them hatred is a sin.
I will also explain to my kids that some few who oppose the constitutional amendment will accuse those who wish to save traditional families of bigotry and ignorance. Some few will suppose this is a good argument, and by labeling supporters as hayseeds, they can win. My kids will smile at this; after all, their name is Hicks and all were born in Appalachia. They know well those slurs don’t stick. I will explain there are far better arguments against the amendment than personal attacks, and among them is the likelihood it will keep out some businesses we would otherwise wish to locate in Indiana.
I will also tell my kids good government ought not be telling families how to organize themselves. Government has not that competence, and adults should be free to arrange their households as they wish. Finally, I will admit I am in deep water with theology, but a favorite children’s author of mine, that old soldier and professor Clive S. Lewis, said it best: “There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the state ... the other governed by the church.” So, let us all have this talk with our kids tonight, and ask the Legislature to focus on more pressing matters.
Michael J. Hicks, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and a professor of economics at Ball State University. Contact him email@example.com.