The Wall Street Journal said of yesterday’s DOMA and Prop 8 decisions, “Supreme Court Rulings Boost Gay Marriage.” Huffington Post rejoiced: “Ding! Dong! DOMA is dead!” CNN called the rulings a “historic victory” for supporters of same-sex marriage.
I’m not so sure.
There was never much question that the court would strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA was passed in 1996, eight years before Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. When it did, it created a conflict between federal marriage benefits (conferred only to heterosexual couples as a result of DOMA) and state benefits (conferred now in Massachusetts to same-sex partners as well). Given that marriage law has historically been viewed as the purview of states rather than the federal government, it seemed inevitable that the federal statute would be reversed in deference to states’ legislation.
To me, the larger question was Proposition 8. DOMA represented no opportunity for the court to legitimize same-sex marriage across the country, but Prop 8 did. The court could have determined that same-sex marriage is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Such a ruling would have overturned the bans on same-sex unions currently standing in 32 states.
However, the court determined that those appealing to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage did not have the legal standing to do so. This narrow ruling, while it has the effect of restoring same-sex marriage in California, does not affect the constitutionality of other states’ same-sex bans.
Now the battle will shift to the states. By overturning DOMA, the court gave same-sex marriage supporters more reason to overturn bans across the nation. Those of us who support biblical marriage must match their passion and resolve. They claim to be working for “marriage equality.” In fact, they are attempting to legitimize relationships which run counter to God’s word and design for us. If we would be a nation God can bless, our culture needs us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) more courageously than ever.
Abraham Lincoln, in addressing the push to expand slavery across the Union, stated in 1860 that the only thing that would convince pro-slavery advocates would be to “cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right.” He responded: “Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”