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Expansion of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

Part 6:
2015-JAN: Possible nation-wide ruling by the
U.S. Supreme Court in June. Future opposition
by religious conservatives to same-sex marriages.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay

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In this web site, "SSM" is an acronym that refers to same-sex marriage.

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wedding rings

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How might opposition to marriage equality change if same-sex marriages are legalized across the state?

Jonathan Merritt described in a Religious News Service article about how opposition to SSM might change if it becomes legalized nationwide. That could conceivably happen over an extended interval as the 15 states that still ban marriage equality legalized marriage on a state-by-state basis. Much more probably, the U.S. Supreme Court might legalize SSM nationwide with a single ruling. 6

He noted that progressives and conservatives use different terms to refer to the SSM conflict. Progressives use terms like "equal rights" and "marriage equality." Conseratives use terms like "redefinition of marriage." Studies have shown that these two terms are the most effective im promoting each side's position. Public opinion polls that refer to gays and lesbians attaining marriage equality show greater public support for SSM; polls that discuss homosexuals redefining marriage show much more opposition.

Merritt found that conservative Christians -- the main source of opposition to SSM in the U.S. -- may take different approaches towards SSM if it became legalized countrywide:

  • Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention expects the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of legalizing SSM throughout the U.S. in 2015. He believes that such a decision would not affect fellow evangelical Christians' theological position on SSM. Moore said:

    "Evangelicals are, by definition, defined around the Bible and the gospel. The Scriptures are clear on what marriage is, and clear on the sin of sexual expression outside of the marriage covenant of a man and woman. ... [If the high court were to] redefine marriage, [Christians should] be ready to offer an alternative vision of marriage and family. 6

That alternative would not include same-sex unions, and it would be mainly promoted within churches. Attempting to modify laws through political action would diminish.

Moore continued:

    "We must articulate these truths about marriage in our gospel witness, and we must embody these truths in churches that take marriage seriously. This means we must start teaching our children a countercultural word about what it means to be men and women, about what marriage is, and that must begin not in premarital counseling but in children’s Sunday school. ... A Supreme Court ruling might be the last word in legal terms, but it is hardly the last word in cultural or spiritual terms. 6

Merritt writes that Moore:

"... contends that anyone who supports gay marriage is not an evangelical."

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  • Ryan Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, expects the high court to accept one or more appeals of SSM lawsuits during 2015 and expects four of the five conservatives on the court to vote against marriage equality, the four liberals on the court to vote in favor, and Justice Kennedy to be the swing vote who ultimately will determine the Court's ruling. He expects that if the court rules in favor of SSM, that this might"

    "... change the public understanding of [same-gender sexual] behavior. ... We’ll have to see how gracious or vindictive voices within the LGBT community are in their responses. Will they become a live-and-let-live movement or a stamp-out-dissent movement? If there’s respect, there’s likely to be less pushback from conservatives. 6

  • Brandan Robertson is the national spokesman for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality (EME). It is a recently created group launched by Liberty Education Forum (LEF). During 2014-SEP, he said:

    "Our organization is not taking a theological position on the issue of the sacrament of marriage. We just want evangelicals to see that it is possible to hold a plethora of beliefs about sexuality and marriage while affirming the rights of LGBTQ men and women to be civilly married under the law." 7

    That is, that loving, committed same-sex couples can be given the right to enter into a civil marriage while conservative Christians can condemn same-gender sexual behavior and prohibit same-sex couples from marrying in evangelical Christian churches.

He said:

"Christians are increasingly saying that they need to stand up for LGBT equality no matter what they believe theologically, he said, “and they are doing this not because they are American, but because they are followers of Christ.

Though Robertson is strident in his support of “marriage equality, he shies away from addressing whether homosexual behavior is moral, or sinful " representing many Christians who draw a distinction between civil marriage and Christian marriage.

Merritt notes that there are some remarkable trends among Christians in the U.S.:

"From 2003 to 2013, support for gay marriage among white evangelicals more than doubled, and support among Catholics rose by 22 percentage points."

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More predictions are expected in the future

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Will Fox, "Gay marriage is legal in every US state," undated, at: http://www.futuretimeline.net/ [A prediction]
  2. Erik Eckholm, "Both Sides on Same-Sex Marriage Issue Focus on the Next State Battlegrounds," New York Times / Politics, 2013-JUN-27, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  3. From the Winter 2010 issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Intelligence Report. The SPLC monitors racist, homophobic, nativist, and other hate groups in the U.S.
  4. Sam Baker, "Both sides say Kennedy opinion on gay marriage could doom state laws," The Hill, 2013-JUN-30, at: http://thehill.com/
  5. "Golden Rule," Wikipedia, as on 2015-JAN-03, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  6. Jonathan Merritt, "If the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage in 2015, how will evangelicals respond?," Religious News Service, 2014-JAN-05, at: http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/
  7. Sarah Pulliam Bailey, "Progressive Evangelicals Launch Campaign To Expand Christian Support For Same-Sex Marriage," Huffington Post, 2014-SEP-15, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2015-JAN-08
Latest update: 2015-JAN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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