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One Take: The Supreme Court Will Not Redefine Marriage

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Any day now, the United States Supreme Court will issue its ruling on one of the most controversial issues in recent memory – the legal definition of “marriage”. If asked, most Americans would probably say the issue was decided a few years ago when the Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. However, that case did not decide the legal definition of marriage; it ruled on whether the federal government could deny spousal benefits to spouses of same-sex federal employees in states where homosexual “marriage” was legal. Since then, one federal court after another struck down the marriage laws in dozens of states, the judges substituting their philosophical preferences the clear text of the Constitution. Those dominoes stopped falling with a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last November.

Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton stated

“Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges of this panel, or for that matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea. Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us – just two of us in truth – to make such a vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens who live within the four states of the 6th Circuit.

How refreshing to find a judge today that not only understands the limits of their powers, but actually respects those limits.

As noted earlier, most Americans likely believe homosexual “marriage” was legalized in the Windsor case, but Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, actually struck down Section 3 of DOMA as a violation of the doctrine of federalism. He stated that “The State’s power in defining the marital relation is of central relevance in this case quite apart from principles of federalism…”

And here is where it gets interesting. Prior to the Windsor ruling, three dozen states had passed, either legislatively or by voter referendum, laws and constitutional amendments which legally established marriage as it has always been – the union of one man and one woman. These amendments passed not only in rock-solid conservative states like Georgia and Alabama, but in heavily liberal states like California and Oregon.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the Court is being asked to determine whether the 14th Amendment requires a state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether the 14th requires states where same-sex “marriages” are prohibited to recognize marriages performed in states where same-sex “marriages” are legal.

If Justice Kennedy, likely the swing vote in what is widely expected to be another 5-4 decision, upholds his own rationale from the Windsor case, then he must rule that the prohibitions against same-sex marriage in the three dozen states that passed those proscriptions are constitutional (after all, the U.S. Constitution does not address the matter of marriage whatsoever, and since jurisdiction is not granted to the federal government under Article I, Section 8, it is a power that is reserved to the states). Furthermore, it is established law and tradition pre-dating the formation of our country that the state has a compelling interest in regulating the terms of marriage.

Even the more liberal justices, who have made no secret of their desire to expand “gay rights”, and their personal support for homosexual “marriage” (both Justices Bader-Ginsburg and Kagan have performed lesbian “marriages” and yet refuse to recuse themselves as required by law), seem to understand the gravity and the long-term consequences of casually discarding the definition of marriage that has existed for every single nation, culture, society, and religion from the beginning of recorded time until 2001.

“The word that keeps coming back to me in this case is millennia,” said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, referring to the fact that marriage has been defined as between a man and a woman for thousands of years. Justice Breyer, another staunch Leftist, also expressed hesitation, noting this long-standing definition is ubiquitous across the human family, and asking of the plaintiff’s attorney, “And suddenly, you want nine people outside the ballot box [to redefine marriage by judicial diktat]?”.

Also working against a decision to judicially redefine marriage is the fact that Supreme Court precedent has long upheld the legality of the man/woman definition. In 1972, SCOTUS ruled in Baker v. Nelson that there was no “federal question” regarding same-sex marriage (in other words, there is no right to same-sex marriage to be found in the Constitution). In Baker, the Court ruled that “The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the book of Genesis…”. Going back even further, the Supreme Court held in Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942) that man/woman marriage is “fundamental to the very existence and survival of the [human] race.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am positive that the Court’s four most liberal justices will find a way to justify their desire to redefine marriage, and Kennedy, who claimed that the only reason to oppose same-sex marriage was bigotry and hate and a desire to make homosexuals second-class citizens, will also be looking for a way to justify the redefinition.

However, it will be clear to all that, if the Court narrowly decides to redefine marriage to include any consensual adult romantic relationship, then it will do so in violation of the its own ruling in Windsor, in violation of Supreme Court precedent, and in violation of the established laws and tradition of the entirety of humanity (not only Christian tradition, but Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, polytheistic, and even communist/atheistic nations) for thousands of years.

But here’s the rub…

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the nature and definition of marriage will never change.

Why? Because marriage is an institution rooted in natural law, God’s law, for the purpose of binding man and woman together in the procreative process, and binding – physically, emotionally, culturally, legally – a man and a woman to the children they produce. Same-sex couples, no matter how much they care for each other, cannot naturally reproduce and, at the end of the day, marriage is about what is best for children, not about validating the romantic feelings of adults. No man, or group of men, can change the true nature of marriage any more than they can change the law of gravity by declaration.

For those of us that are adamantly against a judicial (legal, if not natural) redefinition of marriage, we would do well to remember that the debate over same-sex marriage is just the latest wave in an assault on the foundation of marriage, and many of us have been complicit, whether we have stopped to think about it or not, in that assault.

As a society we have become complacent with other dangers to the sanctity of marriage, including no-fault divorce, co-habitation, and adultery. If we hold sacred the covenant of marriage, then we should show complete fidelity within our own marriages, and do all within our power to strengthen that relationship each and every day in order to make divorce a very rare thing. We should shun an indulgence of our physical desires and exercise the procreative power, which we share with God, only within the bonds of marriage. Husbands should cherish their wives, should cleave to them and none other, and wives to husbands (I know…so old-fashioned!). Children should come second in priority only to our relationships with God and our spouse.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides this month, marriage will continue to be undermined, minimized, and devalued by the forces of secularism, and if we do not vocally advocate for the true definition of marriage; if we do not proclaim the truth that natural marriage brings blessings in the form of families that arise from those sacred relationships, then marriage will collapse as the foundation pillar of society even as we debate the finer points of the matter.

On the other hand, should we choose to hold fast to the true definition of marriage, to show fidelity to our spouses, to raise children in strong, happy families, then we will do enormous good in reversing the erosion of the foundational unit of society, and in ending much human suffering.


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