Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States handed down two rulings related to the definition of marriage.
First, the court effectively struck down as unconstitutional California Proposition 8 which declared the definition of marriage to be between one man and one woman. Proposition 8 was passed by the people of California in a state-wide vote. The court basically refused to intervene in a lower court decision which held Proposition 8 unconstitutional. While this clears the way for same-sex marriage in California, the full extent of that decision is uncertain.
Second, in a decision that seems contradictory to the first, the court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. DOMA defined marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, leaving decisions about marriage to the individual states. The law was passed by both houses of congress and signed by President Clinton.
What does this mean and what should we do?
First, states are free (for now) to define marriage for themselves. States (like Louisiana) which have made the definition of marriage part of the state constitution can continue as they have. States with some kind of definition can continue as well without having to recognize a same-sex “marriage” from another state.
Second, the court did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Focus on the Family President Jim Daly said: “For most Americans, the big picture is more of what the Court did not do. It did not create a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage–as it did for abortion in 1973. It also did not declare same-sex marriage a civil right on the order of ethnicity or nationality.”
CitizenLink Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht said it this way: “At the end of the day, the Court had every opportunity to strike down state marriage laws and create a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage–and it didn’t do that. That’s definitely good news for marriage.”
Third, we should continue to be vigilant in electing local and national leaders who will seek to provide for a stable society which affirms this 4000 year old institution. The debate of marriage will continue state by state. Thirty-eight states affirm marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In his dissent to the ruling Justice Scalia noted the irony of a “ruling” by judges which seeks to degrade an institution continuously affirmed over and over by natural law for thousands of years.
Finally, we can recommit to our own marriages. As you and I live within the biblical picture of marriage we can help influence our families and the people around us. As Jim Daly stated: “Christians will need to take their oath and commitment to marriage more seriously. Though the divorce rate among committed Christians is lower than among the general populace, it remains far too high.”
I pledge to recommit to my marriage and to fight for the biblical picture of marriage. What about you?
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