The Supreme Court's decisions to strike down the Defense Of Marriage Act and reject a lawsuit aimed at upholding California's Proposition 8 have caused jubilation among gay-rights supporters and anger among opponents of gay marriage.
Conservative Christians have denounced the decision, with Bryan J. Fischer of the American Family Assn. tweeting, "The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable." Gay-marriage advocates are now preparing to launch a campaign to legalize gay marriage in all 50 states.
Q: Given the apparent finality of a Supreme Court decision, is this the end of the road for opponents of gay marriage? Or do you see a continued fight over this issue?
The Supreme Court's ruling struck a severe blow to opponents of same-sex marriage and clearly lent tremendous momentum to its supporters. However, I don't believe the battle is over. It probably won't be for some time.
The limited scope of the court's rulings on the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 allows governors and attorney generals in other states to defend laws upholding traditional marriage, and we can expect that some of them, perhaps many, will do so. The litigation will continue, as will the political and social debate.
The rulings also left open troubling legal questions of just how the DOMA ruling will affect religious groups that cannot as a matter of doctrine and faith embrace same-sex marriage. To what extent will federal agencies try to impose untenable regulations on them? To what extent might agencies attempt to tread on religious freedom which, by the way, is also a constitutionally protected right?
That said, the most important battle won't take place in courts or in the political arena. It will be waged within the walls of churches, mosques, synagogues and temples where religious leaders work to strengthen traditional marriage. This battle also will be waged in our own homes where parents teach children that the ways of God and the ways of the world are not the same.
The LDS church, in a statement issued in response to the rulings, said that it "remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children."
I believe it is safe to say that the great majority of LDS members share that commitment.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I've been married three times, divorced twice — which might not make me the person you want to go to for marital advice, but does make me somewhat of an expert on the trials and troubles of marriage. For what it's worth, here are (some of) the things my marriages needed defending from:
• My past, my patterns, my baggage, my family-of-origin issues, my woundedness and projected fears — and all those things for my husbands, too.
• Economic hardship: how hard it was to pay the bills, and the arguments we had about that; how we both had to work and make ever-more money; how we blamed each other for spending money on the least little thing; and how hard it was to reconcile our very different, and very deep, conditioning about the role of money in our lives.
• The completely changed and intermixed roles of men and women, from the crayon pictures we had drawn in our childhood world (we were evolved enough for him to shop and cook, and me to take out the trash and fix things, but not so evolved that some subconscious scorekeeper wasn't taking note each time).
I could go on of course, but I can already say this: Nowhere, on the list of things my marriages needed defending from, is someone else's same-sex relationship. Throughout the years of my marriages and divorces, I knew many homosexual people, some partnered, some not; and not one of them detracted from or did anything other than give helpful advice and support about my marriage.
Whatever it is that's troubling marriages in America today, whatever are the many challenges that marriage needs defending from, however real our fears about the home front may be, we need to stop implying or believing that someone else's freedom to love who they love, and be who they are, has anything to do with it.
The Rev. Amy Pringle
St. George's Episcopal Church
La Cañada Flintridge
The fight will continue! There are two essential wings in modern American Christianity that embrace two diametrically opposed positions regarding this. There are those believing what the Bible says, and those who don't. I don't mean to be combative, but the Bible is where we Christians get our marching orders and our moral bearings, so for one side to applaud the recent ruling and happily endorse the marriage of men to men and women to women, a spiritual line has to have been crossed. It's the line between what God teaches, and what unfaithful clergy teach their congregations. Do they accept that homosexuality is sin? No, they falsely represent God's opinion in their opinion, and despite His revealed will, determine for themselves to bless it (and subsequently send thousands to Hell).
Romans 1:18, 26-27 (New Testament) says "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness…For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (NRS). Can this be misunderstood? Not with normal reasoning, but it's deliberately denied.
Why do you who call yourself Christian sit under the teaching of homosexually inclined pastors and pastorinas? Why listen to anything else they have to say? What makes any of you Christian to begin with? Is it not your belief that God has both come to us and spoken by His Word? Jesus said, "Whoever does not love me does not keep my words" (John 14:24 NRS). Welcome to America, where we neither listen to God nor keep His words; neither in our society, courts, nor churches…
The Rev. Bryan Griem
Montrose Community Church
In order to predict what may happen, it is important to understand what the Supreme Court actually did regarding same-sex marriage. It did not affirm same-sex marriage as a fundamental right throughout the United States, nor did it redefine the institution of marriage itself.
With regard to California's Proposition 8, the court determined that initiative proponents were only "bystanders" with no standing to appear in court. This decision in no way constituted an endorsement of same-sex marriage. It does mean that the prior decision of the district court that ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional stands, and based on that decision, same-sex marriage is now legal in the state of California.
The DOMA decision is based entirely on states rights, not on the merits of same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court decision upholds the sovereign right of states to regulate marriage, and will recognize each state's definition of marriage in applying federal laws and tax codes to legally married couples in that state. This means that federal laws and tax codes still do not apply to same-sex couples in the 37 states that have not legalized same-sex marriage. Furthermore, the DOMA provision that states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages legalized in other states remains in force.
The Supreme Court decisions in no way are the final word on same-sex marriage. It is clear that this issue will continue to be decided on a state-by-state basis, probably for years to come. Even if all states eventually legalize same-sex marriage, I sincerely doubt that it will result in feelings of equality and fulfillment for same-sex couples. Those feelings come from God, not legislation, and God weighed in with his opinion on the subject 2,000 years ago.
Pastor Che Ahn
It is impossible for me to get inside the mind of those who think that extending a basic human right to gay humans will lead to "normalization" of bestiality and other sex crimes. I can't guess what road they will take in California and in the other states where justice has already been done.
The people who want to move us backward have a stubborn, untiring spirit for the fray that I wish those of us trying to move us forward had more of at times. Public opinion changing so quickly in favor of, or at least to tolerate, gay marriage has made the opposition desperate. I can't come up with any other explanation for the "marrying the pet" scenarios and other nonsense being spouted.
I imagine that gay marriage opponents will fight tooth and nail against equality for the 70% of the U.S. in 37 states without full marriage rights. I hope the rights of voters, consumers, students and employees that have been chipped away by this Supreme Court aren't forgotten in our struggle to move forward.
This would appear to be the end of the road on this issue, because there are 13 states now that recognize gay marriage, and there used to be only three. But closely held positions die hard, so I'm sure that some will never accept the idea of same sex marriage. Look at the civil rights issue: Blacks supposedly have all the rights that whites do, but the Ku Klux Klan is still active in some areas of the country, and with a black president in office, hate groups have increased rather than decreased.
However, in my opinion, history would seem to be on the side of those who think there is nothing wrong with same-sex marriage. It's legal in Canada, isn't it? And isn't it legal in most of Western Europe? There will be some strong reaction; there always is when cataclysmic change happens. Some Christians may even form the Anti-Gay Christian Church, or some such attempt to hold onto the old. Look what happened when the Roman Catholic Church decided to do the Mass in modern, local languages. Some formed their own religious communities so that they could still have the traditional Latin Mass.
So I believe it's the beginning of the end of this issue, but I fear that there will still be violence and deep division before everybody accepts the idea that gays, like blacks, like Hispanics, and like every other minority you can think of, are people, too, and deserve the full benefits and privileges that every other American enjoys.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church
La Cañada Flintridge
Given the continuing fight over a woman's right to choose, and the Supreme Court's decision, through the revocation of parts of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, to no longer allow monitoring of former slave counties in their unequal administration of voting polls, I doubt whether any decision in this country is the end of the road in the struggle for anything.
However for now, I rejoice with my LGBT sisters and brothers that the right to marry is at this time sanctioned by the highest court in the land. Marriage is among many things, a legal contract. No one comes to the church to get divorced. Same-sex couples that have worked all of their lives to love and take care of each other should have the same rights and privileges as their heterosexual counterparts in American courts. This is the land of the free.
Biblically speaking, there is no condemnation of committed same-sex couples in the scriptures. The subject of same-sex love is never specifically addressed. Fear, hate, ignorance and judgment of others are Biblically condemned but not the issue of committed same-sex couples.
The church as most people have known it is rapidly becoming irrelevant because it has come to stand for so many other things besides forgiveness, understanding, and love. The Supreme Court decision throwing out DOMA is a chance for the church to stop it's infighting over various definitions of "right," and look with compassion on its sisters and brothers who have suffered outside of its gates for so long, and do the work of standing up loud and clear for what is "good." However LGBT people, and those who support them, must remain vigilant toward any legislature or "Jim Crow-like" practice that might seek to still marginalize this historic gain.
The Rev. Dr. William Thomas Jr.
Little White Chapel
I don't expect that all those people who are strongly against the acceptance of the rights of same-sex couples to be married will stop their opposition to it just because of the recent Supreme Court decisions. From what I have seen and heard, their beliefs are deeply held and are most often rooted in religious convictions. And while my beliefs as a Unitarian Universalist are diametrically opposed to theirs, these people have a right to different perspectives thanmine about marriage.
The sad thing for me is that many of these folks seem to feel they have the right to impose their beliefs about marriage on others. We are not a country where the church and the government are a single entity, and no single religion has the right to dictate its beliefs on all our citizens.
The part of the argument against allowing people of the same sex who love each other to be legally married that I really don’t understand is the fear that such a change will affect the religious blessing of marriages in any significant way. Those religious traditions that do not sanction same-sex marriage now will not be forced to perform marriage rites for such couples. Those who say otherwise are being misguided at best and using scare-tactics at worst.
My hope is that as more and more states move to legalize marriage between same-sex couples, those who have opposed this change will come to see that encouraging the establishment of lasting marriages can bring lasting benefits to all our families. We are all interconnected in spirit and blessing, and I look forward to the opportunity of officiating at the marriages of many loving couples as a part of my continuing ministry.
Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills