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Paul Mero Remarks First Freedoms Forum

Paul Mero Remarks First Freedoms Forum

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Published by Ben Winslow
Sutherland Institute founder Paul Mero's remarks at the First Freedoms Forum on gay rights, same-sex marriage, traditional marriage, the traditional family, non-discrimination laws and the Amendment 3 ruling.
Sutherland Institute founder Paul Mero's remarks at the First Freedoms Forum on gay rights, same-sex marriage, traditional marriage, the traditional family, non-discrimination laws and the Amendment 3 ruling.

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Published by: Ben Winslow on Jan 24, 2014
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My remarks this evening are directed to everyone who should know best because
they know better. We hear of the existence of an almost mythical “silent majority” –
 a sleeping giant of responsible citizens who need only be reminded of their civic duties,
amidst their busy lives, to stand up and be counted. I’ve always thought of
the silent majority as the people who know better. I firmly believe that everyone who should know better, should know best. On December 20, 2013, around 2:00 p.m. on the Friday before Christmas, a federal
district court judge overturned Utah’s marriage law. In doing so, Judge R
obert Shelby harmed freedom in Utah and, perhaps, for a nation. Supporters of traditional marriage and the natural family often, and rightly, point to the
benefits of Utah’s marriage law. Utah is an exceptional place to live, work and
raise a family precisely because of the benefits derived from its pervasive culture of marriage and family. Economists can point to the natural benefits of a child-rich society. Criminologists can point to the natural benefits of intact families. Psychologists can point to the natural benefits of nurturing biological parents and strong intergenerational bonds. Social workers know where functional people abound and where dysfunction thrives. There is an obvious societal, or state, interest in supporting traditional marriage and the natural family. Men, women and children are happier, healthier, better educated, more prosperous and physically safer in the nurturing confines of a traditional marriage and natural family
 all uplifting qualities that further the cause of freedom. The state interest is a purpose, not a person.
It’s easy to understand
. Just think of driving on our roads and highways. The state interest requires a transportation system with rules. Driving would be chaos without traffic signals, road signs, painted lines and restrictions on who is qualified to drive. Drivers are safest and, more importantly, freer to travel where they wish because of traffic laws. The state has an interest to create and impose traffic laws in a free society. Interestingly, the state has no interest in what color car you drive, or what make or model. It simply cares that you meet the criteria to drive and anyone who meets the criteria to drive may receive a permit
 but there are criteria. Clearly, traffic laws infringe on our autonomy, perhaps annoyingly so, until we realize that these laws not only help to keep us and others safe but actually allow us and others to get where we are going
 almost 100 percent of the time. This state
interest isn’t about me personally, or any of you; it’s about the common good.
Kitchen v. Herbert 
, Judge Shelby threw the state interest in marriage under the bus and, to do that, he also had to throw away
 notion of a state interest. In the motions for summary judgment before the court on December 4, 2013, plaintiffs
seeking to overturn Utah’s marriage law argued that a “loving, committed relationship” defines marriage. Plaintiffs were forced to make th
at argument so they could claim equal protection under the 14
 Amendment. For the plaintiffs, marriage no longer could be defined as a man and a woman. It could no longer be defined as having any intrinsic state interest such as child bearing, child rearing or the complementarity between a man and a woman. Marriage no longer could be defined in terms of long-standing established law, custom or tradition. For plaintiffs, marriage has to be defined in terms of any consenting adults. Unfortunately,
traditional marriage and the new “gay marriage”
are substantively and materially dissimilar. So, to claim equal protection, plaintiffs
had to argue that the state interest in marriage isn’t about
a general purpose, it 
about their personal emotions. Only then could plaintiffs logically and reasonably argue that any consenting adults should be allowed to have their marriages recognized by the state. Only then could plaintiffs argue that there was any kind of similarity between their literal friendships and actual marriage. This argument is both genius and evil. If they can convince everyone that marriage is just a universal set of human feelings and emotions, any relationship can be a marriage
. It’s genius because
everyone has feelings and emotions
. It’s evil because
its inherent selfishness deceptively undermines what marriage really is. It is no coincidence that in his opinion Judge Shelby took substantial time to describe in detail the lives of the three plaintiff couples. He views their friendships as materially similar to marriage.
Here’s what that sounds like from Judge Shelby, “Laurie and Kody met and fell in love in 2010. Besides the fact that they are both
English teachers, the two share an interest in books and gardening and have the same long-term goals for their committed relationship. They wish to marry but were
denied a marriage license….” In other words, a “loving, committed relationship”
is the new standard for the state interest in marriage, according to Judge Shelby.
As defined by Judge Shelby, the state interest in Utah’s marriage law vanishes.
Indeed, there no longer exists any state interest in marriage outside of the momentary and arbitrary wishes of any consenting adults. If marriage can mean anyth
ing, it really means nothing. According to Judge Shelby’s reasoning, any
consenting adults can legally marry. And that opinion, ladies and gentlemen, is not a slippery slope
. It’s a
cliff. II.
Because everyone who knows better should know best, I’ll
explain the state interest in traditional marriage and the natural family. If you were in charge of building a free society, how would you go about it? You certainly would prioritize individual liberty but would soon realize a conflict as you
created necessary order, like traffic laws. You would realize that individual liberty is only one component of a free society. An equally important component is order. Because individuals live and work together in society, order is essential to maintain peace and facilitate prosperity. As you began building a free society, your struggle would be to maintain that delicate balance between order and liberty. You would search diligently for an
“operating model,” as it were, and you would find that you
only have five real options: the individual, the family, the church, the corporation or the state.
What you’re looking for in an operating model is one central concept, one functional
mechanism, to fairly balance order and liberty. Clearly, you would fail if you chose the state to be the fundamental unit of society. The state is inherently restrictive. Likewise, you would immediately rule out the individual as the fundamental unit of society. Individuals are inherently selfish. In both cases, the delicate balance you seek would be tipped to one extreme or the other. The church has a transcendent social quality required for order. But, you would soon realize that the church model would slide into its own version of forced conformity, inevitably threatening personal liberty. You might choose the corporation as the fundamental unit of society. The healthy desire for earned success combined with the need to provide the comforts of life seem to be universal human goals. The corporation would maximize individual liberty and, under the necessity of regulating contracts, could provide a stable order. The problem is that the corporation would fail to recognize any person who, for whatever reason, could not compete. The wheelhouse of a corporation is competition if it is anything. Hence, the divide between the haves and the have-nots would become insurmountable and the delicate balance between order and liberty would be disrupted. You would soon discover that your best choice is the natural family. When family is the fundamental unit of society the delicate balance between order and liberty is maintained
 we create order without force and liberty within reasonable boundaries. Only the natural family perfects other competing institutions. It holds the state in check. It suppresses selfish individualism. It gives practical meaning to
the church’s transcendent virtues. And it creates a stable environment for industry
and a moral context for free markets. The natural family is the fundamental unit of society because it provides a free society with equal amounts of stability and autonomy
 with no more force than the force of culture and familial bonds. If we, the people, have an interest in citizens avoiding government dependency in a free society, we would look to an institution that effectively focuses and domesticates men, protects and values women and successfully educates and nurtures children into productive adulthood. These are the roles of the natural family and that is why it is the highest state interest in a free society.

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