Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 14, 2014

STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

CROSSVILLE — If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist. Judges appointed by presidents and confirmed by the Senate do not have the authority to change or amend the meaning of words. The personal opinions of judges must never be permitted to change the law. If same gender “marriages” are to be permitted, it must be by an act of Congress or laws by state legislatures. The U.S. Constitution does not define the word “marriage” and does not prohibit our state legislature from recognizing and codifying the accepted meaning used by the citizens within the borders of our state.

Our state legislature and the citizens of our state lawfully passed Tennessee Code Section 36-3-113 and Article XI, Section 18 of the Tennessee Constitution. Judge Trauger does not have the authority to nullify our state laws and change the accepted meaning of “marriage” within Tennessee.

The federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Tennessee will not change that accepted meaning of “marriage.” The same gender couples would like to force Christians to use “marriage” to refer to their chosen lifestyle. That will never happen and threats and intimidation are counter productive if respect and acceptance is their desire. Judge Trauger’s initial “opinion” shows that she is following the opinion of other judges instead of the U.S. Constitution. She has incorrectly identified the “cause” of the problem. Same gender couples only want the same “government privileges” granted to other couples.

Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, states: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records and judicial Proceedings of every other state.” Tennessee is required by that section of the Constitution to recognize the legal actions of other states but we are not required to change our laws or identify that ceremony with the same word used by the other state.

For thousands of years, “marriage” has been recognized and accepted as a “religious ceremony” whereby a man and a woman are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. To use the word “marriage” for any other purpose is to misuse the term. Religions, not the government, established “marriage” and identified the responsibilities. Governments recognized that relationship only when one or both of the parties failed to honor their obligations and the government had to become involved to force compliance or protect the children. In the thousands of years of same gender sex, no known religion or society in recorded history has recognized “marriage” as a union of individuals of the same-sex.

Couples have proven for many years that a government license is not required in order to live together in a loving committed relationship and couples have biological children without being “married.” Living together and having sexual relations does not become a “marriage” simply by calling it a “marriage” and any relationship created without the intention of becoming a family and trying to have biological children is not, and never will be a “marriage.”

Citizens who live together with same gender partners have always had the freedom to share their lives and responsibilities and are entitled to demand and receive the same government privileges as other couples. Living together as a couple cannot be the “cause” of the pending lawsuit and declaring that these couples are “married” will not resolve their complaint. They do not have a right to demand special and/or different privileges or demand that the meaning of words be changed to suit their life style.

If American society has a constitutional obligation to change the meaning of a word to provide “marriage” on an equal basis on the demand of any group, then there is no plausible argument for not using “marriage” to identify unions between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, teachers and students, pedophiles and their victims or polygamous relationships. Refusing to acknowledge that civilized society has accepted meanings of words shows a lack of logic. The arguments for using “marriage” to identify lesbians and gay men as couples disrespects religions. Select another word to describe same gender relationships!

Changing the current meaning of “marriage” would deny Christians the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution and would violate Tennessee Code Section 4-1-407 and deny religious freedom to Tennesseans.

• • •

Stumptalk is published weekly in the Crossville Chronicle. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. To contact Stumptalk, email coordinator Jim Sykes at 

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