Family Matters is derived from The Heritage Foundation’s Family & Society Database. The Heritage Foundation is committed to defending, promoting and supporting the historical role of the family as the basic unit of every civil society, and marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
The Nature of Marriage
Marriage is a fundamental institution, deeply rooted in all societies, which has been tested and reaffirmed over thousands of years. It is the permanent union of one man and one woman. Marriage is not, in the words of a Massachusetts court, an "evolving paradigm," but instead a time-tested pillar of civilization. Modern social science research confirms its importance for the welfare of all family members, but especially children.
The Family Debate
The family is the building block of society. When marriages and families are healthy, communities thrive; when marriages break down, communities break down.
What is Marriage?
Marriage is a fundamental social institution, providing the foundation of a harmonious and enriching family life and the basic building block of our society. Regardless of religion, culture or constitutional tradition, societies have always agreed on the nature of marriage.
How Have the Courts Threatened Marriage?
Marriage is being threatened in the courts through a series of decisions that seek to overthrow the customs, laws, and social norms of human experience.
Is There a Continuing Legal Threat?
Lawsuits are continuing to be filed in states across the nation by same-sex couples demanding full marital rights.
What Are the Consequences of Redefining Marriage?
There will be serious legal consequences and threats to religious liberty if marriage is redefined by the courts. There could also be long-term social consequences. Data is available from European countries that have already experimented with same-sex unions.
What Can Be Done?
Many states across the nation are moving to either strengthen their existing statutory language that recognizes marriage between a man and a woman or to amend their constitution to preserve the traditional meaning of marriage.
What Has Been Done?
During the Fall of 2004, citizens in 13 states overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments to preserve the traditional understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman in their state constitution.
Marriage in the 50 States
Current status of marriage in your state.
Senators on Marriage
U.S. Senators’ positions on marriage and how they voted on measures pertaining to marriage.