In Defense of Marriage
January 17, 2014
This week we were greeted with yet another headline affirming that our country is on a swift path to destroying the institution of marriage:
I am reminded of the book of Amos in the Old Testament where Amos prophesied the destruction of Israel from within because they had “rejected the law of the Lord” and had “not kept his decrees.” Specifically, Amos charged that Israel had “turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness,” despising “the one who tells the truth” in court. The courts had become the graves of unrighteousness.
Nothing could be clearer than that we as a nation are turning away from truth. Our courts, which were designed to advance ordered liberty and virtue guided by principles of law that originated from Scripture, are now advancing “revolutionary law” that will change the very foundations of our society.
Utah and Oklahoma
This week, Oklahoma joined Utah as an unwilling victim of a federal judge’s decision to strike down the state’s Marriage Amendment. Judge Terrence Kern called the state’s Marriage Amendment, “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a government benefit.”
That is two conservative “red” states in less than a month whose voters had previously approved Marriage Amendments by overwhelming majorities (76% in Oklahoma and 66% in Utah) that have been told by federal judges that the U.S. Constitution somehow does not recognize marriage as the union between only one woman and one man. Really? Is marriage destined to be little more than government recognition of close relationships or just a “government benefit?”
What’s more, the federal government is shoving same-sex marriage down the throats of the states that have tried to protect themselves by passing Marriage Amendments.
The lawless behavior of the feds toward Utah is ample evidence. After the federal judge struck down the state’s Marriage Amendment on December 20th and refused to stay his own decision, 1,300 gay couples were married in the state. At the request of the State of Utah, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision on January 6th, thus halting same-sex marriages until an appeal could be heard by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Two days later, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement that, despite the Supreme Court’s stay and Utah’s decision not to recognize the same-sex marriages performed between the decision and the stay, the federal government will recognize those illegal same-sex marriages by granting federal benefits to the couples.
Yes, Eric Holder has set himself up as a higher authority than the U.S. Supreme Court and the Governor of one of our sovereign states.
Windsor Paved the Way
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June in Windsor v. United States striking down the federal definition of marriage has provided the legal basis for these decisions.
Justice Kennedy stated in his majority opinion in Windsor that, “By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage,…has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.” Unfortunately he then employed incendiary language to describe the effects of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on same-sex couples, saying that DOMA’s primary purpose was: “to injure,” “to harm,” “to deprive,” to treat as “second class marriages,” to write “inequality in the entire United States Code,” to impose “inequality,” to “place in the position of being in a second-tier marriage,” “to humiliate” their children, and to “demean.”
The truth is that DOMA’s primary purpose was to define “marriage” for purposes of federal benefits and to allow states that do not recognize same-sex marriage to refrain from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
In the seven months since the landmark decision, the number of states allowing gay marriage has jumped from 12 to 17. There are still 27 states that have constitutional Marriage Amendments and another four that prohibit same-sex marriages through state law. Because of Windsor, same-sex activists have stepped up their attacks, filing 43 cases, 27 of them in federal court, challenging Marriage Amendments in 20 separate states. New cases are filed every week.
What is happening now is the deconstruction and complete re-definition of marriage by the federal government. Justice Kennedy’s language has pointed the way for the lower federal courts to find state Marriage Amendments unconstitutional, whether he or the rest of the Supreme Court intended it or not.
North Carolina Impact
So how does all this affect North Carolina, where we approved our Marriage Amendment by 61% almost two years ago? As we have previously reported, last summer the ACLU filed a federal law suit attacking North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment, marriage laws, and adoption laws as being unconstitutional. The same-sex couples who brought the suit hope the Court will give them the right to marry and to adopt children. Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a motion to dismiss the case, and we are presently waiting for a ruling by Judge William L. Osteen, Jr.
While representing the interests of the State in defending the Marriage Amendment, Attorney General Roy Cooper publicly expressed his support for same-sex marriage. He also headlined a fundraising event for Equality NC, the gay and lesbian advocacy group that seeks to undo our Marriage Amendment. It appears that Roy Cooper intends to be a democrat candidate for Governor in 2016, and he supports same-sex marriage for political reasons, since he opposed it when he was a State Senator. “Evolving” on the issue of same-sex marriage, seems to be a common disease among politicians.
In addition to his breach of legal ethics, we have had serious concerns about Roy Cooper’s competence in defending marriage on behalf of the voters of North Carolina. In fact, we spent a little over three months last fall beseeching the Governor and the General Assembly to intervene on behalf of the State, so the taxpayers of North Carolina could be competently represented.
Finally, right before Christmas, Senate President Phil Berger and Speaker Thom Tillis engaged the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to represent the General Assembly in monitoring the case to insure that Attorney General Roy Cooper does his job.
We are grateful that Phil Berger and Thom Tillis are concerned about protecting marriage in North Carolina and have taken steps to do that, but we continue to believe that intervening as a party in the lawsuit is the most effective way to guarantee an excellent defense of marriage, especially in light of the decisions in Utah and Oklahoma.
State Marriage Defense Act
Finally, amidst all this bad news, there is a bright spot.
Last week, Texas Republican Rep. Randy Weber introduced the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. North Carolina Congressmen Robert Pittenger and Mike McIntyre co-sponsored the bill, which would tell the federal government to follow the law of a person’s legal residence or domicile to determine marital status for the purposes of implementing federal law. Under this legislation, if state law recognizes two people as married, federal law will recognize them as married; if state law does not recognize them as married, federal law will not recognize them as married.
In Windsor, the Supreme Court characterized DOMA as, “creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State.” Even though the State of New York recognized same-sex marriages as legal, the federal government did not and refused federal benefits to couples legally married in the state. The Court also criticized DOMA, because it was an attempt to “put a thumb on the scales and influence a state’s decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws.”
By requiring the federal government to follow state marriage law, the State Marriage Defense Act ensures that the federal government does not unduly influence decisions a state makes with regard to its marriage law and policy. The State Marriage Defense Act is a simple, common-sense response to protect states like North Carolina from having same-sex marriage forced on them by the federal government.
What You Can Do
The best thing we all can do is to pray. We need to be on our knees constantly asking God for mercy on our country and our State, humbly beseeching the God of the Universe to spare North Carolina from the fate of Utah and Oklahoma.
We also need to hold our elected officials accountable, starting with our President and his Attorney General Eric Holder and extending to our Governor, Attorney General Roy Cooper, and the General Assembly.
Call your Congressman or Congresswoman and ask them to co-sponsor and vote for the State Marriage Defense Act of 2014, H.R. 3824. If you live in Congressman Robert Pittenger’s district or Congressman Mike McIntyre’s district, call them and thank them for being co-sponsors. Find their numbers at http://ncvalues.org/take-action/contact-your-legislators/.
Call Governor McCrory and you legislator and ask them to intervene in the ACLU’s lawsuit against our Marriage Amendment. The voters of North Carolina deserve representation by someone who will vigorously defend our Marriage Amendment.
We all worked very hard in 2012 to get the Marriage Amendment passed so that marriage would be enshrined as a permanent fixture in our State Constitution as the union of only one man and one woman. Let’s hope and pray that a federal judge in our state doesn’t play “God,” and strike it down.
Thank you for your support for Biblical marriage!