Marriage soon ‘marches’ to the Supreme Court

By Doug Carlson
Mar 14, 2013

The much anticipated showdown on marriage is nearly here. In less than two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a pair of cases on marriage, with the institution’s future hanging in the balance.

In what many say could become the Roe v. Wade of marriage, the high court will soon hear oral arguments in challenges to California’s Proposition 8—the 2008 voter-approved marriage amendment defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman—and to part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)—a federal law that recognizes marriage as only between one man and one woman.

On March 26, the court will take up the Prop 8 case, officially known as Hollingsworth v. Perry. One day later, the justices will consider the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor. Plaintiffs bringing the Prop 8 suit argue that California voters choosing to amend the state constitution did not have the authority to bypass the state supreme court, which had previously ruled to allow same-sex “marriage.” In the DOMA case, challengers argue that the 1996 DOMA—specifically Section 3, which defines marriage—is unconstitutional.

The outcome remains largely uncertain, with decisions expected sometime in June. But one troubling possibility that could fall from the court’s cloud of uncertainty is a federal recognition of same-sex “marriage” in states that have legalized such relationships. That would happen if five of the justices side with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to strike down DOMA. Another possibility is an imposition of same-sex “marriage” across the country—much like the court’s 1973 decision in Roe legalized abortion nationwide. That could happen if the court upheld the Ninth Circuit’s decision to strike down Prop 8.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has not taken to the sidelines in either marriage case. On Jan. 29, the ERLC filed separate friend-of-the-court briefs in the cases, urging the court to uphold the California law and the federal law. The ERLC, joined by multiple other religious organizations, argued in both briefs that support for traditional marriage is a “rational” decision.

In the Prop 8 brief, the ERLC and others argued that people of faith “supported Proposition 8 based on sincere beliefs in the value of traditional marriage for children, families, society, and our republican form of government” and that “[o]nly a demeaning view of religion and religious believers could dismiss our advocacy of Proposition 8 as ignorance, prejudice, or animus.”

“Support for traditional marriage is a rational position,” the brief continued, adding that “Proposition 8 is not invalid because it attracted support from religious voters and organizations or because it reflects a moral judgment consistent with certain religious beliefs.”

Nine states plus the District of Columbia have approved legalized same-sex “marriage.” In several of these states, courts or state legislatures imposed their will on the people. Meanwhile, 30 states have passed amendments protecting marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.

As the battle over marriage soon comes to a head, defenders of marriage are taking a cue from defenders of life. On March 26, the day the court will hear arguments in the Prop 8 case, supporters of one-man, one-woman marriage will descend on Washington to participate in a March for Marriage. “We believe it is imperative,” the March for Marriage website says, “that political leaders, the media, and the culture see that we care about protecting marriage enough to stand up and march for it.”

The March for Marriage follows in the tradition of the March for Life. One notable difference separates the two: The March for Life, which held its 40th annual march in January, began one year after the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. By contrast, the March for Marriage will coincide real-time with the proceedings of the court on marriage. The hope and prayer is that the marriage march will help head off another infamous court decision on the family.

All who support the God-ordained institution of marriage are encouraged to pay a visit to Washington on March 26 to join others in the march for its protection.

For more information on the March for Marriage or to make plans to participate, please visit their website.

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