The division in the United States over same-sex "marriage" came into sharp focus Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the U.S. Constitution makes it a fundamental right.
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"History has shown us that something so deeply rooted in nature itself cannot be erased by legal action," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Perkins said he "can say with certainty that a very large portion of the American population will not accept a redefinition of marriage imposed by the court."
"The court was unable to 'resolve' the issue of abortion for the nation in its Roe v. Wade decision, and the court will not resolve this issue, either," he said.
John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, said the hearing Tuesday gave him hope that traditional marriage will be preserved.
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"I am extremely encouraged by the questioning, especially from Justice Kennedy, because it focused on what marriage is," he said.
"It shows that the justices realize that marriage has existed for millennia and they have no constitutional basis to redefine it."
Meanwhile, on the other side, John Lewis, policy director of Marriage Equality USA, said the justices now have "before them the extraordinary love stories from all across the country."
"Today at the Supreme Court it felt as if the whole world was watching, bearing witness to our collective hopes and dreams of freedom and justice for all," Lewis said.
Equality member Shelly Bailes said the hearing "highlighted how important it is that marriage equality is leading the way towards full lived equality for LGBTQ people in all aspects of our lives."
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Her "wife," Ellen Pontac, said: "Our movement and momentum will continue, as we work to ensure that we have the freedom to marry from coast to coast, as well as freedom from discrimination when we put our wedding pictures up at the workplace."
In Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring, who has chosen not to defend a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, issued a reaction.
"The clarity of the argument made today for equality gives me such confidence that our progress will continue, and family by family, Virginia and the nation will more broadly celebrate the simple values of love and commitment," he said.
Before the court were two questions: whether the Constitution provides for same-sex marriage and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.
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Many religious leaders have voiced concern that establishing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage will infringe on the Constitution's protections for speech and religious freedoms.
In practice, the rights of homosexuals are trumping religious rights as courts or commissions penalize Christians for doing no more than living by their faith.
For example, the owners of a Christian farm in upstate New York recently were fined $10,000 and assessed $1,500 in damages for not allowing a lesbian duo to use their land and home for a wedding.
In Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips is fighting to overturn state penalties against him – and his staff – for refusing to endorse a homosexual "wedding."
There, a state human rights commissioner, Diann Rice, likened Christians to slave owners and Nazis,.
"Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history," she said, "whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others."
Just in the last week, Gresham, Oregon bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein, who were forced to close their storefront, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, in 2013 shortly after a lesbian couple filed a civil rights complaint against them for refusing to provide a same-sex wedding cake, were told they were being fined $135,000.
Then in a surprise just days ago, a court ruled that a Kentucky T-shirt printer has the right to refuse to make pro-"gay" T-shirts because of the message. The homosexuality of the intended purchasers had nothing to do with the transaction, the court said, arguing the Constitution protects the speech and religious freedom rights of the printer.
Perkins said the parties came before the Supreme Court Tuesday asking asking the court "to take the extraordinary step of departing from all of recorded human history and forcing a redefinition of civilization's most fundamental human relationship upon an unwilling nation."
"There is no broad social consensus, and there is no global consensus that society would be better served by redefining marriage to include same-sex couples," he said. "To the contrary, America remains deeply divided over this issue, and if the Supreme Court forces a redefinition it will only further divide the nation."
Eastman said the "entire spectacle of the same-sex marriage litigation has undermined confidence in the judicial system as activist federal judges around the nation have taken it upon themselves to substitute their own views for the sovereign right of states, expressed through their voters and elected officials, to decide this issue."
He said the justices need to rule that "there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents states from defining marriage in the law as it has existed in reality for millennia – the union of one man and one woman."
Of the 37 states where same-sex marriage now is recognized, only three did so through a vote of the people. In most cases, it was imposed by the ruling of a single federal judge.
The Thomas More Society said the family is "the fundamental unit of society," producing "something that governments need but, on their own, they could not possibly produce: upright, decent people who make honest law-abiding, public-spirited citizens. And marriage is the indispensable foundation of the family."
Perkins' belief that Americans will not accept a Supreme Court decision that would destroy biblical marriage is backed up by evidence. Thousands of people, including leaders of Christian organizations representing millions, have signed onto a statement telling the justices to leave marriage alone.
"We will view any decision by the Supreme Court [overturning traditional marriage] or any court the same way history views the Dred Scott and Buck v. Bell decisions. Our highest respect for the rule of law requires that we not respect an unjust law that directly conflicts with higher law," says a Marriage Pledge assembled by Keith Fournier, a Catholic deacon who is editor of Catholic Online, and Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel.
"A decision purporting to redefine marriage flies in the face of the Constitution and is contrary to the natural created order. As people of faith we pledge obedience to our Creator when the state directly conflicts with higher law.
"We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross this line."
In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court said blacks are less than human, and in Buck, it ordered the government sterilization of innocent people.
The board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Counsel, which represents 40,118 evangelical Hispanic churches in America and about 500,000 in Latin America and Spain, on Tuesday voted to sign the Marriage Pledge, warning that a decision destroying marriage simply would not be accepted.
CatholicVote.org issued a statement: "Remember, no matter how the Court decides this summer, the truth about marriage will never change."
'A line we must draw'
"We stand united together in defense of marriage," the pledge states. "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 common good that this is a line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross."
Pledge co-author Mat Staver wrote at Stream.org: "I argued that a bad court decision might require civil disobedience. I still pray that won't be necessary. I pray the Supreme Court will allow states to recognize natural marriage. That would be a great victory for truth, but it would not end the fight. Neither the Supreme Court nor any state has the authority to redefine the natural created order of marriage. Marriage is no more a state's rights issue than is slavery or the law of gravity.
"This is the red line we will not cross," Staver wrote. "While no one wants this conflict, we have no choice but to resist an unjust law, particularly one that will force us to participate in acts that directly conflict with the Natural and Revealed Law."
WND reported longtime conservative leader Pat Buchanan urged Christians to fight the "LGBT fanatics" who are demanding they betray their faith, even if it means civil disobedience.
In an interview with WND, Buchanan, the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" and other bestsellers, spoke on the controversy.
Buchanan condemned defeatism among social conservatives and rejected retreat or even compromise. Instead, the one-time presidential contender and Reagan White House aide urged Christians to put the laws of God above the laws of man.
"This battle can be won, but it cannot be won if we do not stand our ground and fight against this moral onslaught from the left," he said. "The hill to stand on and fight on is the God-given natural right and the constitutional principle that people of faith may choose not to associate with those whose actions are abhorrent and whose lifestyle is insulting and offensive to that faith."
Buchanan dismissed arguments that "gay"-rights activists are simply asking for political freedom or the same rights as any other citizen.
"The LGBT militants are not asking to be left alone," he said. "They are demanding that we accept the morality of homosexuality and same-sex marriages, and manifest that acceptance, under pain of law and sanctions, in our daily lives."
Buchanan added: "As the Romans demanded of the Christians, the LGBT fanatics want us to burn incense to their gods. The answer is no. If it comes to civil disobedience, so be it."
Conflict of interest
Whatever decision comes out of the court likely will be perceived by many as illegitimate since two justices, Elena Kagan and Ruth Ginsburg, previously expressed public support for homosexual marriage by performing ceremonies.
There have been multiple calls for them to recuse, but they have refused.
Fox News recently reported on the issue:
The American Family Association launched a campaign urging citizens to explain to their representatives in Congress why the two justices shouldn't participate in the case.
"U.S. Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves from any cases involving the homosexual marriage issue on the basis that they have conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies," the campaign letter states.
Fox News reported Kagan performed a Sept. 21, 2014, same-sex marriage for her former law clerk, Mitchell Reich, and his partner, in Maryland. NPR reported Ginsburg performed a same-sex marriage at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in August 2013, the campaign said.
"Both of these justices' personal and private actions actively endorsing gay marriage clearly indicate how they would vote on same-sex marriage cases already before the Supreme Court," AFA said.
Kagan also was an activist for homosexual causes while she was at Harvard.
And Ginsburg publicly voiced her support.
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One of the court briefs filed in the case also came from Alabama, where state judges halted the ruling of a federal judge imposing same-sex marriage, explaining that in the recent Defense of Marriage Act case the justices determined that marriage is an institution established by states, not the federal government.
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