Posted on June 6, 2011
Jeff Baity, writing to the editor in the Winstom-Salem Journal, argues that “The question is not whether we should legislate morality but whose morality will we legislate?”
Several letters … have recently been written opposing the conservative right’s attempt to define marriage as strictly between a man and woman. The term “legislating morality” is used to describe what should not be done in the political realm. According to the various writers, it’s wrong to legislate morality.
However, every civil law in the United States is legislated morality. Even the speed-limit signs are based on the moral belief that human life must be protected. Without someone’s sense of morality, there would be no law in this country. To say that legislating morality is wrong is a misnomer. The statement is not even valid.
Baity is a self-described conservative Christian with whom I would likely disagree on many moral matters (in the letter, he is arguing against marriage equality), but his methodological approach makes some sense. Indeed, it reminds me of something I wrote back in April 2010:
… I do not think we should be worried about morality influencing our laws, for our laws and morality cannot be separated. Our moral beliefs and values — whether religious or secular — are about how to deal with the suffering, happiness and welfare of sentient, conscious creatures on Earth, which means they will surely influence social and public policy. It is fine to moralize so long as the moral views are supported by reason and evidence.