A coalition of Christian organizations is warning that the U.S. Supreme Court does not have the power to redefine the institution of marriage, which predates government, churches and even religion.
The statement comes just as the court is expected to release its ruling on the Proposition 8 case in California and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In the Proposition 8 case, a homosexual judge in California ruled that the state's voters did not have the right to limit marriage to one man and one woman. Voters approved an amendment in 2008 defining marriage only months after the state Supreme Court established same-sex marriage.
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DOMA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, states that for federal purposes, only marriage between one man and one woman is recognized. Homosexual activists challenged the law, and President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder announced that they simply would refuse to defend it, even though it is the law of the land and they are charged with enforcing it.
"As Christians united together in defense of marriage, we pray that this will not happen. But, make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the true common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross,” they say.
The group includes Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant clergy and leaders.
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The statement was drafted by Deacon Keith Fournier, editor of Catholic Online, and chairman of Common Good Alliance, as well as Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action.
It was approved by pastors and other leaders who collectively represent tens of millions of Christians.
While the church leaders candidly admit they have differences on matters of doctrine and practice, they proclaimed solidarity on the issue of marriage.
"Marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of creation. Marriage is ontologically between one man and one woman, ordered toward the union of the spouses, open to children and formative of family. Family is the first vital cell of society; the first church, first school, first hospital, first economy, first government and first mediating institution of our social order. The future of a free and healthy society passes through marriage and the family," it states.
The statement says that the since marriage "predates government," it cannot be redefined by civil institutions, "including the United States Supreme Court."
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"Redefining the very institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the state," it says. "The Supreme Court has no authority to redefine marriage."
Cited is a 1992 Supreme Court opinion regarding abortion, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which Justice Sandra O'Connor candidly admitted as much.
Noting that while the legislative branch has authority over spending, and the executive branch controls the military, the Supreme Court's source of authority rests only on the legitimacy of its decisions in the eyes of the people.
"If the Supreme Court were to issue a decision that redefined marriage or provided a precedent on which to build an argument to redefine marriage, the Supreme Court will thereby undermine its legitimacy," the opinion said. "The court will significantly decrease its credibility and impair the role it has assumed for itself as a moral authority. It will be acting beyond its proper constitutional role and contrary to the natural moral law which transcends religions, culture, and time."
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The Christian leaders' statement emphasizes marriage is "fundamental to human existence."
"Like other natural laws or laws of physics that govern our lives, marriage predates government, and civil institutions have no authority to redefine marriage," they say. "Marriage cannot be redefined into something it is incapable of being."
The leaders say any attempt to do so "will result in the loss of authentic human freedom, particularly religious freedom, and will harm children and society."
They argue marriage "as existing solely between one man and one woman was not an idea manufactured by the Christian church."
"It precedes Christianity," they say. "Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by Christian teaching, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the natural moral law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason."
"They warn that experience and history "have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the state."
"This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights and does not serve the common good of society," they say.
Church leaders such as former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey have warned lawmakers that a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples would lead to other less-desired results, such as polygamy and incest.
The comments from Carey were reported recently by the London Daily Mail, which said Carey told Prime Minister David Cameron that an "equal marriage" proposal would produce unwanted results.
Carey said that under the redefinition of marriage proposed by lawmakers, there would be no reason to exclude two sisters living together who want to be married, and polygamy would have to be supported.
Carey, one of the most prominent campaigners against same-sex marriage since Cameron announced his plans for it two years ago, was echoing a warning by a California Supreme Court Justice Marvin Baxter in a minority opinion when the court approved same-sex marriage.
The decision later was overruled by voters, who adopted a state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, defining marriage as only between one man and one woman.
However, homosexuals appealed to a homosexual judge, who struck down the constitutional amendment.
Baxter wrote that the bans on incestuous and polygamous marriages "are ancient and deeprooted, and, as the majority suggests, they are supported by strong considerations of social policy."
"Our society abhors such relationships, and the notion that our laws could not forever prohibit them seems preposterous," he said.
"Yet here, the majority overturns, in abrupt fashion, an initiative statute confirming the equally deeprooted assumption that marriage is a union of partners of the opposite sex. The majority does so by relying on its own assessment of contemporary community values, and by inserting in our Constitution an expanded definition of the right to marry that contravenes express statutory law."
"Who can say that, in 10, 15 or 20 years, an activist court might not rely on the majority's analysis to conclude, on the basis of a perceived evolution in community values, that the laws prohibiting polygamous and incestuous marriages were no longer constitutionally justified?"
In California it was Vaughn Walker who heard the Prop 8 case and was accused of pursuing a political agenda and having a conflict of interest.
In his ruling advancing same-sex marriage, Walker arrived at the following highly controversial legal findings:
- "Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians."
- "Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed."
- "The gender of a child's parent is not a factor in a child's adjustment."
- "The evidence shows beyond any doubt that parents' genders are irrelevant to children’s developmental outcomes."
- "Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals."
- "Many of the purported interests identified by proponents are nothing more than a fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples."
Staver also has warned that the "nullification" of DOMA instituted by Obama is itself a major threat.
By striking DOMA, he said, "It would set the precedent that the president can pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce and which ones he does not."
That, he said, would make a president an "autocratic dictator" by default, as he no longer would be bound by his oath of office to enforce all laws. The possibilities? If a president didn't like the tax code, he simply could order federal agents not to enforce it.
Staver also warned that a governmental endorsement of such alternative sexual lifestyles would create unsolvable clashes between those who want to pursue those lifestyles and the religious rights of the rest of society.
"We saw what happened in Massachusetts, and it's just one of many, many examples of where same-sex marriage and same-sex unions come into play. Catholic charities have had to get out of the adoption ministry because they're not going to violate their religious beliefs and place children in homes with same-sex couples. You see that with people who run bed and breakfasts, wedding photographers, cake decorators and it goes on and on and on, where you're going to have to choose between your profession or same-sex agendas," he said.
"Then you look at the public schools. Parental rights will be undermined. Children as young as kindergarten will be forced to have information fed to them about, not just tolerance and alternative families which is bad enough with regards to re-definition of the family, but that same-sex, aberrant sexual behavior is normative, good and healthy. That's the kind of thing that you're going to see in the public schools, and we're seeing it already in some of these states like Massachusetts that have adopted same-sex marriage," Staver said.
"This would be on a nationwide basis. It would be catastrophic. I think it would ultimately be the beginning of the end of the United States of America as we know it."
Among the signatories of the Christian leaders' letter:
- Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel Action
- Deacon Keith Fournier, Common Good Alliance
- Samuel Rodriguez, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
- James Robison, LIFE Outreach
- Father Paul Schenck, Catholics United for Life
- Kenneth Blackwell, former U.S. Ambassador to U.N. on Human Rights
- Anita Staver, Liberty Counsel
- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
- James Dobson, Family Talk Action
- William Boykin, Kingdom Warriors Ministries
- Erwin Lutzer, Moody Church
- Colin Hanna, Let Freedom Ring
- Che Ahn, HROCK Church
- Carlos Campo, Regent University
- Richard Land, Southern Evangelical Seminary
- Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Randolph Sly, Common Good Foundation
- Frank Pavone, Priests for Life
- Johannes Jacobse, American Orthodox Institute
- Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon
- Ron Luce, Teen Mania
- Bill Donohue, Catholic League
- Betty Robison, LIFE Today
- Jack Hayford, King's University
- Rick Joyner, Oak Initiative
- Rick Scarborough, Vision America Action
- Carl Herbster, Advance USA
- Alveda King, Alveda King Ministries
- Star Parker, CURE
- Ruth Graham, Ruth Graham Ministries
- And hundreds more.