(CNSNews.com) – “Traditional marriage is a sacred institution and serves as the cornerstone of our society,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The panel is considering a bill, the Respect for Marriage Act (S-598), that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and give same-sex couples the same rights and privileges of married couples under federal law. President Barack Obama is among those who support S-598.
One conservative group called Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing “a dog and pony show” for the media and for homosexuals, who comprise a “very influential portion” of the Democrats’ political base. The Family Research Council also noted that the witness list was “stacked” in favor of those who want the Defense of Marriage Act overturned.
Congress passed DOMA in 1996 and then-President Bill Clinton signed it into law. It defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman and says that no state has to recognize homosexual ‘marriage’ performed in other states. At the time, no state allowed same-sex marriage, but homosexual marriage is now legal in six states and the District of Columbia.
King testified that traditional marriage is a “core building block” of society” and that it takes a traditional marriage to produce children for “the next generation.” “We cannot afford to devalue it with legislation like S-598 and we must oppose any effort that would diminish the definition of marriage,” he said.
King cited two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that affirm this view of marriage, including one decision dating back to1818 when the court said, “Marriage is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress.” In 1942 the court stated, “Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.”
King said the government is rightfully interested in protecting the institution of marriage and that DOMA has successfully done so since it became law.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), on the other hand, compared DOMA to the “bitter fruits of racism and discrimination” he suffered as a child. He called DOMA a “dark stain on our Democracy” and said when the law was passed in 1996, “the taste of that old bitter fruit filled my mouth once again.”
Lewis called for “full marriage equality for all citizens” and said the government “should not trample on the rights of our gay brothers and sisters.”
Thirty states have laws that mirror DOMA, including Iowa. In fact, King helped draft Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act while serving in the state senate. On Wednesday, he told the Judiciary Committee that when three state judges struck down Iowa’s defense of marriage law, the people responded by voting all three out of office last November.
King said that never in the history of Iowa have three judges been voted off the bench in one election cycle.
As for the argument by opponents of DOMA that people can’t help who they fall in love with, the congressman speculated whether that same argument would be made for incest or polygamy.
King also argued that marriage is not a right: "A marriage license is offered because that's a permit to do that which is otherwise illegal," King said: "It's not a right to get married; that's why states regulate it by licensing. They want to encourage marriage."