By U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp
President Obama and I have very different notions of what a family is. For liberals, the family can apparently be everything from “Heather Has Two Mommies” to “Daddy’s Roommate” to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “It Takes a Village.” In the opinion of electoral majorities in Kansas and 40 other states, however, that does not a family make.
For conservatives, the concept of family is the same as the Judeo-Christian model God ordained, a model supported by every other major world religion. It is the same unit recognized by the laws of nature, the laws of government, and civilized societies for thousands of years: one man, married to one woman, with so many children as God should see fit to entrust to their care through birth or adoption. In my case, that means me, Angela (my wife of 18 years), and our four children (who happen to be adopted).
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week in two landmark cases concerning homosexual marriage. The Hollingsworth v. Perry case challenges the federal constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative approved by 7 million voters to amend California’s state constitution to define marriage as an institution that involves only one man and one woman. The Windsor v. United States case challenges the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 federal statute overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 that recognizes traditional marriage for federal purposes and protects states from having homosexual marriage imposed upon them by other states.
If at least five Supreme Court justices do not resist the temptation to legislate from the bench, they might overturn Proposition 8 and DOMA. If that happens, the high priests and priestesses of political correctness will have done irreparable harm to yet another pillar of the American paradigm for our patriotic, wholesome culture — “God, the flag, mom and apple pie.” Activist judges have already expelled faith from the public square (forbidding the Ten Commandments, a cross in remembrance of our military heroes, and Christmas Nativity scenes) and decriminalized burning the Stars and Stripes in public. The First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s sugary-drink ban suggest the days of consuming apple pie might well be numbered.
That leaves motherhood. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Congressional Resolution that established Mother’s Day. Every president since Woodrow Wilson has issued proclamations that pay homage to the significance of motherhood. In 1981, Ronald Reagan wrote: “They shape the character of our people through the love and nurture of their children. It is the strength they give their families that keeps our nation strong.” In 2011, President Obama wrote: “[W]e celebrate the extraordinary importance of mothers in our lives. The bond of love and dedication a mother shares with her children and family is without bounds or conditions.”
In the Hollingsworth case, though, The Justice Department argues that children do not need mothers. The Obama administration makes the incredible assertion that motherhood is superfluous to rebut an argument that the traditional two-parent family, led by both a mother and a father, provides the ideal situation to raise a child. In defiance of biology, nature and common sense, the administration argues that children need neither a father nor a mother and that having two fathers or two mothers or more is just as good as having one of each.
Mr. Obama’s hypocrisy is not limited to motherhood. Four years before he flip-flopped on the issue of homosexual marriage, it was none other than Mr. Obama who proclaimed the singular importance of a father in child-rearing. In his June 2008 speech to a church, then-Sen. Obama said: “We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.”
Sen. Obama was right; President Obama is wrong. There is overwhelming social science evidence to corroborate the benefits of raising children in homes with both a mom and a dad. Who among us does not know there are differing parenting styles between men and women and that children deserve both? Government, both federal and state, has a legitimate and defensible interest in ensuring that children conceived by a mother and father are, in fact, raised by their biological mothers and fathers whenever possible.
Redefining marriage to remove parents of both sexes from the equation would further the destruction of the family, the most fundamental building block of society. If that definition is changed by the court, the purpose of marriage devolves to mere recognition of an emotional union. In so doing, the children of America will be shortchanged — and the will of the American people would be once again short-circuited by black robes in Washington.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp is a Kansas Republican. As a state senator, he authored the Kansas Marriage Amendment approved by 70 percent of voters in 2005.