To listen to Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy describe it, any resistance to redefining marriage for the sake of same-sex couples amounts to "bigotry" and "prejudice" against gays.

To hear legislators from the other side of the aisle tell it, marriage as we know it won't survive unless Republicans bolster the institute with a constitutional amendment.

The posturing from both sides of the political spectrum is embarrassing.

Kennedy errs where most social engineers of the left err. The veteran lawmaker works from the mindset that it's government's role to wear down the sharp edges of reality so that voting blocks in the liberal Democrat camp don't cut themselves.

Where the GOP errs is in thinking that a constitutional amendment is the answer to a deep cultural divide. That there needs to be such legislation in the first place illustrates how badly the underpinnings of civilization as we know it are eroded.

Marriage wasn't constructed by the government and its foundation was put in place by a higher power than Congress. It's a sacrament, a union between a man and a woman that was created by the Almighty. This institution came to be even before the church, communities or government because families are the basic building blocks of everything else.

Heterosexual couples beat gays to the punch in making a mockery of marriage. What was intended as a sacrament has become a social contract in some cases and a hollow business arrangement in others. In the process, the bar for marriage is set so low that the idea of redefining it gains traction. Why do we think there are so many divorce lawyers listed in the Yellow Pages?

State Rep. Ellis Black, D-Valdosta, said it best in a press release about HB 1451:

"With half of all U.S. marriages ending in divorce, there are those who suggest the real threat to the idea of marriage as a sacred institution could lie with people who already possess the right to join in matrimony, yet take the responsibility so lightly. The idea of marriage as a lifelong commitment has suffered greatly over the last 50 years. Some feel the deterioration of the idea of committed marriage can be largely attributed to couples entering into unions without the emotional tools, and personal skills, necessary to make a marriage work."

(HB 1451 would provide couples wishing to marry with a financial incentive to partake in premarital counseling.)

Laws change and evolve, and the day may soon come when the government recognizes same-sex unions. What will be endorsed then will be only a counterfeit of the real institution.

When that time comes, those who wish to throw stones will have to acknowledge that a cheap knockoff of a sacrament came to fruition because the real sacrament wasn't treasured as it should be. Who can blame gay couples for thinking their chances of enduring are just as good as heterosexuals?

Heath Griner is city editor of The Valdosta Daily Times. To contact him, call 244-3400, ext. 274; or, email him at

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