06 May, 2008

Senator Santorum gets the history of marriage law wrong

One of my Gather.com buddies pointed out this article to me and straight away I noticed a glaring error. I tried to find a forum to post a comment to the article, and instead could only find a general e-mail address to the web site; I couldn't even find a link to e-mail the individual interviewer/research fellow.

I appreciate that this web site is providing both sides of the story; however, I hold firm the belief that it is a journalist's responsibility to do their fact-checking and point out any errors or omissions in the facts contained in their publication.

Here's the e-mail that I sent to Pew Research:

Hi I couldn't find a way to comment on your articles. I write specifically in reference to your article entitled "Two perspectives on gay marriage."

There is a factual error in Senator Santorum's argument. He states,

See, I think that's the foundational flaw with this whole debate. The law is as it has been for 200-plus years, and so the burden is on them to make the persuasive case as to why they should be married, not just for their benefit but for what the impact is on society and marriage as a whole, and on children.

In reality, the laws regarding marriage are not as they have been for 200-plus years. The most glaring example of this is the recent modification of marriage law when the United State Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws to be illegal in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967). Additionally, the Loving case affirmed and upheld the fact that marriage is a fundamental right, so the burden is not on "them to make the persuasive case as to why they should be married" but rather the burden is on the government to prove a compelling interest as to why same-sex couples should not be married (e.g., any restrictions upon marriage are subject to a strict scrutiny standard of legal review).

The rest of Senator Santorum's interview is opinion and therefore I cannot comment as to the veracity of his statements. However, I do believe it would be a great disservice to your readers were you not to point out the factual inaccuracies in Senator Santorum's statements, and either include an editor's note or allow the Senator a chance to correct his mistakes.

Please note that I will include a copy of this e-mail, in part, on my blog.

Thank you for your time,
-Peter C. Frank

As many of you who have been reading my blog for quite some time know, same-sex marriage is an issue I've written about on other occasions, and I believe it to be of great importance to the gay rights movement, of which I consider myself a minuscule part.

The fact that Senator Santorum, a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law, would make such a glaring error leave one to wonder whether the error was intentional, as one would imagine that Senator Santorum would have done at least preliminary research on this issue before speaking publicly about the subject, and certainly his omission would have appeared in any preliminary research on marriage law. In fact, a search using the Google search engine returns the Loving case when searching under "marriage law" within the top 50 results.

And lest we not forget the importance of Loving to the matter of same-sex marriage, religious and social views were held to be the main reasons as to why Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws were upheld by the lower courts. Sound familiar?

But my point here isn't to argue the same-sex marriage issue; rather, it's to point out that marriage has not always been defined as between a man and a woman. Rather, it used to be defined as between a white man and a white woman, or a black man and a black woman, or what not. And before that, I'm certain there were other definitions. And the laws with respect to marriage have evolved over the past 200 plus years. For instance, in many states, polygamy was legal.

So as society evolves, so do the laws that govern society. Shame on you, Senator Santorum, for attempting to trick your audience into thinking anything to the contrary!

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5 Comments:

At Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 8:33:00 AM EDT, Anonymous samantha said...

hi peter!

I agree with you!

this is simplysober from gather!

smile,
samantha

 
At Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 6:43:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Additionally, the Loving case affirmed and upheld the fact that marriage is a fundamental right"

Agreed, but I hold the definition of "marriage" is as it was at the time our constitution was written:

"MARRIAGE: The act of uniting a man and a woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and a woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God Himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children."
A quote from Supreme Court Justice
C.J. Marshall in the Goodridge decision:
"We have recognized the long-standing statutory understanding, derived from the common law, that “marriage” means the lawful union of a woman and a man."

 
At Friday, May 16, 2008 at 1:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,
Janet B from Gather here. Thanks for posting your blog. I will have to send this on to my sister. Being from Pittsburgh I am very familar with Mr Santorium.
Have a nice weekend.
Your Gather friend

 
At Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 8:16:00 PM EST, Blogger PCF said...

Dear Anonymous:

The definition of marriage has changed over time. At the time of C.J. Marshall's opinion, marriage was defined as a union between a Caucasoid male and a Caucasoid female. A Caucasoid and Negroid couple was not even a possibility back then. But now it is, thanks to Loving v. Virginia.

So you see, 200 years ago, marriage may have been defined as between a white man and a white woman. One-thousand years ago same-sex unions were permitted and normal under the Church. The definition of marriage is not inflexible nor is it written in stone.

There is absolutely *no* legal reason for same-sex marriage to be proscribed, much as miscegenation was proscribed until 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia.

 
At Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 11:37:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not qualified to make a legal argument. But it is high time that marriage in a court be sanctioned for those of the same sex. The discrimination is horrific and the repercussions terrible. Liz RS {Lady Raven Spirit]

 

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