Getting ready for DOMA and Prop 8

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Getting ready for DOMA and Prop 8

June 26, 2013 - Jim Denison, PhD

A bookcase with spotlight on legal tomes in a law library, representing the Supreme Court justices and their upcoming decision on DOMA and Prop 8 (Credit: SNEHIT via Fotolia)

The Supreme Court has announced that it will deliver its much-anticipated rulings on same-sex marriage today at 10 AM EDT.  We don’t yet know what the court will decide, but here are the options.

The court could uphold Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.  Or it could overturn it through one of four decisions.  One: those supporting the ban in court lack legal “standing” to do so.  Two: voters are not entitled to withdraw this right, since it had previously been established by the California Supreme Court.  These two decisions would affect only California.

Three: states which provide for civil unions, such as California, violate the Constitution by withholding the designation of “marriage” (this is the Obama administration’s position).  Six other states would be affected.  Four: all bans on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution.  In this case, every state would be affected.

On the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court will determine whether federal marriage benefits can legally be withheld from same-sex couples in states where such marriages are legal.  The court could determine that the law withholding such benefits is constitutional, changing nothing.  It could decide that the court lacks jurisdiction, which would probably have the practical effect of overturning DOMA with regard to federal marriage benefits.

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{/source}Or it could decide that this provision is unconstitutional, which would clear the way for such benefits in the District of Columbia and 12 states which have legalized same-sex marriage.  In even the worst case for defenders of biblical marriage, no other states would be affected directly.  However, the push to legalize same-sex marriage in these states would be empowered significantly.

In tomorrow’s Cultural Commentary, we’ll discuss the consequences of the court’s decision for our country and for those who defend biblical marriage.  For today, I’d like to offer an observation: this debate, however it turns out, is only one indicator of a much larger battle being waged in our culture.  Like a temperature warning light on a dashboard, it tells us that something is seriously wrong with the engine.

In essence, “marriage” is being redefined before our eyes.  Rather than a covenant for the sake of the other, children to come, and society, it is becoming an arrangement of convenience for the sake of financial and legal benefits.  Given the foundational significance of marriage and family to our nation, we cannot yet predict the future consequences of these seismic shifts.

But we can pray for spiritual awakening (2 Chronicles 7:14), speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), intercede for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and shine our light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16).  In fact, we must.  The darker the room, the more powerful the light.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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