On Marriage, the GOP Platform is Solid. The Democrats Just Don’t Care.

By Maggie Gallagher Published on August 17, 2016

The Republican and Democratic platforms drafted and approved in the last few weeks by the Party faithful in Cleveland and Philly are not exactly governing action plans. They will not tell you what a candidate will do or not do if elected president, as members of the GOP drafting committee freely confessed. And Donald Trump kept a hands off stance with the platform language, as Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) who co-chaired the GOP platform committee told The Washington Post.

Patricia Longo, who co-chairs the subcommittee on family, health, education and crime, told the paper that Trump indicated “they’re going to have nothing to say about the platform,” adding “He’ll do what he wants anyway.”

The result? “It’s Donald Trump’s Nomination but Ted Cruz’s Platform,” announced the The Daily Beast.

That being said, the GOP platform takes courageous and principled stands on a number of divisive issues, including abortion, religious liberty and the central importance of marriage. This week I’d like to compare the two party’s platform planks on the embattled institution of marriage.

The GOP Sees Marriage as a Central Institution of Freedom

The Republican platform makes a relatively deep, long and powerful case for natural marriage as the cornerstone of civil society, the primary institution that protects children’s well-being:

Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values. We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a “judicial Putsch” — full of “silly extravagances” — that reduced “the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.

In the section on the Judiciary, the document makes the case that

only by electing a Republican president in 2016 will America have the opportunity for up to five new constitutionally-minded Supreme Court justices appointed to fill vacancies on the Court. Only such appointments will enable courts to begin to reverse the long line of activist decisions — including Roe, Obergefell and the Obamacare cases — that have usurped Congress’s and states’ lawmaking authority, undermined constitutional protections, expanded the power of the judiciary at the expense of the people and their elected representatives, and stripped the people of their power to govern themselves.

Republicans specifically call for Obergefell’s reversal “whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

But in addition to criticizing gay marriage and judicial tyranny, the GOP Platform makes a more basic case for the importance of marriage to society, and to a Republic founded on the idea of limited government power:

Foremost among those institutions is the American family. It is the foundation of civil society, and the cornerstone of the family is natural marriage, the union of one man and one woman. Its daily lessons — cooperation, patience, mutual respect, responsibility, self-reliance — are fundamental to the order and progress of our Republic. Strong families, depending upon God and one another, advance the cause of liberty by lessening the need for government in their daily lives. Conversely, as we have learned over the last five decades, the loss of faith and family life leads to greater dependence upon government.

Not only religion but reason testifies to the importance of marriage in protecting child well-being, according to the Republicans:

Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage. We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation. Moreover, marriage remains the greatest antidote to child poverty. The 40 percent of children who now are born outside of marriage are five times more likely to live in poverty than youngsters born and raised by a mother and father in the home. Nearly three-quarters of the $450 billion government annually spends on welfare goes to single-parent households. This is what it takes for a governmental village to raise a child, and the village is doing a tragically poor job of it. The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad.

The value of adoption and the importance of requiring men to support their children even outside of marriage are embraced. And the millions of Americans families who “do not have the advantages that come with that structure” are to be honored and treated “with dignity and respect.”

Nonetheless, “Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society.”

On Marriage, the Democrats Have Almost Nothing to Say

On marriage the divergence between Republicans and Democrats is extreme. The Democrats do not mention the word “marriage,” or any form of the word, except once praising the Supreme Court’s ruling imposing gay ‘marriage’ on all 50 states: “Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that insisted that LGBT people — like other Americans — have the right to marry the person they love.”

That’s all the Democrats have to say. The only kind of marriage that apparently concerns them is gay marriage.

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  • James Chilton

    Virtually everyone believes that marriage is one of the foundations of civil society, and arguably of any society. But despite such widespread belief, there no such thing as a “solid platform” for the support of marriage, as traditionally understood, in the public arena. Equivocation about the meaning of marriage is everywhere – at least on the official level. Politicians and the clergy might say that “personally” they prefer the definition of marriage to be restricted to the union of one man with one woman. That doesn’t stop them from voting for “liberal” measures which undermine their principles.

    Republicans are marginally more likely than Democrats to hold the traditional moral line on this issue. That’s not saying much.

    • Republicans whine about Obergefell changing the definition of marriage, ignoring that the definition has changed many times. In my lifetime, prohibitions against mixed-race marriage are gone (thanks, Supreme Court!), divorce is easier, and marital rape is now a thing.

      I don’t know why it hasn’t dawned on them that if they don’t want gay marriage, they can just not get gay married. (Or maybe they don’t want it easy. Maybe the conflict works well for them politically.)

      • James Chilton

        The definition of marriage did not change significantly until same sex marriage was included.

        On certain fundamentals there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats. When closely examined, it becomes evident that most “conservative” proposals are rooted in lefty concepts and ideals.

        • How is “mixed-race couples can now get married” any less fundamental than “same-sex couples can now get married”?

          It seems to me that the same-sex marriage issue is a political football, kept alive for political gain. With mixed-race marriage, Loving was a news story and then it was gone a week later. That Obergefell is still an issue a year+ later shows that it is simply a political benefit to have it active.

          • James Chilton

            Mixed race marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Same sex marriage isn’t. That fundamental point seems to have escaped your attention.

          • Same-sex marriage doesn’t care about race. Race is no longer an issue, while it used to be an essential, assumed tenet of marriage. That fundamental point seems to have escaped your attention.

            Another fundamental point that you’re having a hard time with is that changes to “marriage” are simply expanding the possibility of two people who love each other making a public, lifelong commitment. Simply from a PR standpoint, you’ve picked an unfortunate institution to attack.

          • James Chilton

            I don’t accept your elastic definition of marriage. The union of one man with one woman is something you’re having a hard time understanding, or admitting, as the essence of marriage.

            Expressing a “correct” PR view is an irrelevant consideration with respect to the truth of the traditional formulation of the meaning of marriage

          • Moebius

            So, what can we extend it to next? Siblings? A parent and child (adult child, for now)?

          • The old slippery slope argument? I don’t see why some potential bad thing that we’re not going to adopt has any relevance to the good thing we are going to adopt today.

            If there are people who want to marry their lawn mower, let’s wait until they formulate a good and compelling argument and worry about it then.

          • Moebius

            Always ask what the implied corollaries are to any change you adopt, Bob.

  • john allcott

    Maggie’s headline is very true: “On Marriage, the GOP Platform is Solid. The Democrats Just Don’t Care.”
    I would only add: “Trump Doesn’t Care, Either.”
    Trump has spent his life wrecking marriages as well as celebrating perversion.
    Does anyone really think Trump would submit to the GOP platform on anything?

    • Sunny

      Does anyone really think that the GOP, who worked hand in glove with obama to give him virtually everything he’s wanted for the past 8 years, has any intention of upholding that platform, while at the same time they are promoting such a flawed and dangerous candidate as Donald Trump? Only the trump is god faction of voters truly believe that. They are not voting based on what comes out of his own mouth, they are voting because trump is going to save them.

      It looks like he is doing everything he possibly can in order to get out of this race, and Reince Priebus just won’t let malleable trump go. Sad.

  • Rudy R

    We oppose policies and laws that create a financial incentive for or encourage cohabitation.

    The Republican platform is stacking the deck. They oppose same-sex marriages that would result in cohabitation, so they can justify opposing financial incentives for cohabitation.

    Its [natural marriage] daily lessons — cooperation, patience, mutual respect, responsibility, self-reliance — are fundamental to the order and progress of our Republic.

    Are not same sex marriages capable of these daily lessons?

    Children raised in a two-parent household tend to be physically and emotionally healthier, more likely to do well in school, less likely to use drugs and alcohol, engage in crime or become pregnant outside of marriage.

    Research has shown there’s no differences in the outcomes for children based solely on whether they were raised by same-sex, heterosexual, or single parents.

    • Moebius

      “Research has shown there’s no differences in the outcomes for children
      based solely on whether they were raised by same-sex, heterosexual, or
      single parents.”

      As Loren Marks and others have shown, those studies use flawed methodologies.

      • Rudy R

        What studies include flawed methodologies? And who decided that Loren Marks is correct in her assessment that those studies are flawed?

        • Moebius

          The LGBT lobby has vigorously attacked the Regnerus study which accompanied the Marks study. But they have had comparatively little to say about the Marks study. Read it for yourself for the answers to your questions about the flawed methodologies.

  • Sunny

    If the GOP platform is so solid, why is Donald “Transgender-Bathroom” Trump the new face of the GOP?

  • Sunny

    Well, well, well, the GOP platform means nothing with trump as the nominee

    REINCE PRIEBUS: “Well, a nominee is not – doesn’t have to adopt every single position and platform position of the Republican Party. If we’re talking about what my opinion is on birthright citizenship does not necessarily have to be adopted by a nominee. My exact view of immigration and how it should be pursued does not have to be adopted by a nominee.”

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