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June 27, 2013
Column #1,661
Supreme Court Did Not Endorse Same-Sex Marriage
By Mike McManus

Advocates of traditional marriage were hit with two Supreme Court decisions this week that come close to endorsing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage – but do not do so.

First, the Court ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was passed in 1986 by overwhelming votes of 342-67 in the House and by 85-14 in the Senate – is unconstitutional. At the time no state had legalized same-sex marriage (SSM). When the Court heard arguments on DOMA, nine states had declared SSM legal (and three more have done so).

Therefore, I predicted in March that the Court would “overturn DOMA so that federal benefits will go to SSM couples in states that legalized it.”

What’s important to note, however, is that the Supreme Court did not also announce a “constitutional right to same-sex marriage.” It could have done so, but exercised a restraint that the Court lacked in its Roe v. Wade decision 40 years ago that legalized abortion for all states, rather than in the one state at issue. That’s a modest but significant victory.

Similarly, in a separate case, reviewing California’s Proposition 8, in which 7 million voters added an amendment to the state constitution limiting marriage only to unions “between and a man and a woman”- the Court allowed a lower court rejection of Prop 8 to stand.

“For most Americans the big picture is more of what the Court did not do,” said Focus on the Family President Jim Daly. “It did not create a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage – as it did for abortion in 1973. It also did not declare same-sex marriage a civil right.”

The Court has allowed the national debate on marriage to continue. “The Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t change the fact that society needs children, and child still need a mother and father,” said Nicole Theis, president of the Delaware Family Policy Council.

However, the Prop 8 decision is disheartening.

How could it so blithely dismiss the votes of 7 million Americans? How could it uphold Prop 8’s rejection by one federal judge who is an active homosexual living with another man? The Court should have upheld the people’s voice over that of a judge who should have recused himself from the case, due to his conflict of interest.

This is a corrupt decision, which brings rare dishonor to the Court.

The DOMA decision also was unnecessarily nasty. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy (joined by four liberal justices), contains these words:

“What has been exploited to this point should more than suffice to establish that the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage.”

What rot. There were no such marriages in 1996. The overwhelming vote of Congress and President Clinton signing it into law - was not based on hatred of gays, but on the public’soverwhelming support for traditional marriage.

In a stinging rebuke of the Kennedy argument, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us.” In so doing, “the court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat.”

Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, declared “There is a stench to these decisions that has stained the Supreme Court,”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who chairs the bishop’s marriage committee, called the decisions a “tragic day for marriage and our nation.”

“The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so….Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and father.”

What can be done now?

Believers in traditional marriage must redouble their efforts to make marriage a union for life. Marriage rates have plunged 57% since 1970. The sad result is that the number of never-married Americans has soared from 21 million in 1970 to 77 million last year.

More than a million couples divorce every year. This is a trend which can be reversed. The clergy of 229 cities have created Community Marriage Policies that have reduced divorce rates enough to save 100,000 marriages.

There is hope.

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