The Public Square

Meg Miner on Terri Schiavo, Individual Liberty, and the Same-Sex Marriage Debate:


Hi. My name is Meg Miner.

Following the recent involvement of Florida's legislature, the U.S. Congress and the President in Terri Schiavo's end-of-life decision, 70-80% of Americans said they objected to government involvement in the case. It turns out that most Americans enthusiastically cherish their personal liberty in such intimate decision making times.

Much of the public debate centered on what was humane for Terri's sake. But the president and other social conservatives were preempting the right of Michael Schaivo, Terri's husband, to express her wishes.

As we have often heard, the sanctity of marriage must be defended. So why did Terri's parents succeed in making the federal government act on their wishes, not Michael's?

Terri's parents convinced elected officials that Michael couldn't have her best interests at heart because sometime during her 15 year illness he started another family. He was unfaithful; therefore, he was unfit to be her legal caretaker.

But that's not the way we usually hear these folks talk about marriage.

Up until this tragic family dispute was made into a federal case, being legally married was supposed to be all it took to make a man and woman's relationship unassailable. In this case, the conservative lobby seemed to be implying there is more to a marriage than, well, marriage when it comes to things they don't believe in.

Suddenly the quality of their marriage mattered most and, lucky for us, these folks could tell us just what makes a quality marriage. At least for this occurrence.

When our government officials dropped everything and ran to override Michael's decision, it became clear that they pose more of a danger to family unity than even the most dastardly same-sex couples could hope to achieve.

The fact that the law recognized the Schiavos' legal marriage contract over Terri's parents' wishes caused some pundits to blame activist judges for bringing down morality once again.

If the polls are right and 70-80% of Americans believe they have a right to be free of government interference, then I'd like to suggest that this same large percentage consider the infringement on personal liberty when the government denies same-sex couples the ability to marry.

If you opposed the government's intervention in the Schaivo case, please think of how you would feel if the government tried to tell you whom you were allowed to marry.

Think of how it felt when interracial couples were denied marriage licenses under miscegenation laws. It took a Supreme Court case to declare those restrictions illegal.

No doubt there are people in this country today who feel those judges were activists, but fortunately the majority of Americans would disagree now.

As our President often says, "Americans are freedom-loving people." If you agree that same sex couples should share in this freedom, please lend your support to same-sex couples who are not, after all, the threat you've been led to believe.

Call your representatives tell them the decision to marry is best left up to the loving couples who are committing to it, not the government, and certainly not to some lobby with an agenda aimed at shoving our country back into its repressive past.