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"United States v. Windsor" lawsuit succeeds in having part of
federal DOMA law ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court

2013-JUN-26: Still more reactions to the Supreme
Court's ruling on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Sponsored link.

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The acronym "SSM" refers to "same-sex marriage."
The acronym "DOMA" refers to the Defense of Marriage Act
"SCOTUS" refers to the Supreme Court of the United States

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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  • Official statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. The Mormon Church, LDS):
  • "By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.  

    In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

    Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.

  •  Rev. Bart Day, executive director, Office of National Mission of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, a conservative Christian denomination, issued an official statement:
  • "Though the ruling is not a surprise, we are saddened for our nation, even as we call our fellow Christians to faithfulness and prayer.

    As Christians, we believe and confess that God Himself instituted marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman. Same-sex unions are contrary to God’s will, and gay marriage is, in the eyes of God, no marriage at all. As Christians, we proclaim this truth, no matter what the courts or legislatures may say. We are called not to popularity but to truth. Therefore, we call on our fellow Christians to be faithful first to God’s Word, knowing that another court is ultimately supreme.

    Marriage is a fundamental building block of society, binding parents to their offspring.  Every child benefits from the nurture of a mother and the leadership of a father.  While having one mother is a blessing, having two mothers or two fathers is confusing for the child and detrimental to her well-being.  The divorce culture has done great harm to the institution of marriage as well, and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has and will continue to respond to that heartache with Christ’s comfort while simultaneously working to restore a culture where marriage is upheld." 2

  • Concerned Women for America:
  • "Today the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade of marriage. These rulings will continue to divide our Republic just as Roe continues to do 40 years later. The Supreme Court continues to lose credibility at an alarming rate with today’s decision. 

    "While the justices sit in their high chairs, these decisions will have very real-life consequences for American families, especially as it relates to our religious liberties. Those who hold a Biblical view of marriage can expect much persecution from the government in the years to come. In addition the thirty-eight states that have affirmed the traditional definition of marriage can expect to be dragged into future courts. The Justices have thrust us into another life-long battle for religious freedom and a bitter dispute for truth, just as they did with Roe." 3

We are guessing that their reference to religious liberties and freedoms relate to individuals and companies that provide wedding services to the general public -- like bakers, wedding photographers, florists, etc. Occasionally we hear of one of them running afoul of state anti-discrimination laws. They refuse to provide their service to potential clients on the basis of the clients' race, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. They are sometimes fined for discrimination based on racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. These cases are rare. Since about 30% of Americans live in a state where SSM is available, we can expect that these SSM conflicts may triple in frequency if all states legalize same-sex marriage.

  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH:

    "While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman." 4

  • Senator Michael Bennet, D-CO:

    The Supreme Court's decision affirms that all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve the same rights and opportunities under the law that my wife and I enjoy. The Defense of Marriage Act was a discriminatory law that unfairly treated LGBT couples differently, and has rightly been relegated to the dust bin of history. 4

    Actually, most of the Defense Of Marriage Act still is in effect. It is only one section of DOMA that specifically discriminates against same-sex married couples that was declared unconstitutional.

  • Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) said:

    "It’s just another example of judicial supremacy rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for. ... I thought it was a bad decision. ... I thought that Justice Kennedy’s opinion in many respects was incredibly insulting to those people -- 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and Bill Clinton. -- They basically said the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people. ... What I’ve said all along is what I said when I vetoed the last one, let the people decide,” he said. “You’re talking about changing an institution that’s over 2,000 years old."

    During 2012-JAN, Gov. Christie vetoed a bill to legalize SSM that had been passed by the New Jersey Legislature. He called for a plebiscite to let the voters decide the issue. Most Democrats and civil rights advocates in the state say that the Legislature should make this type of decision and not leave fundamental civil rights matters like access to marriage up to the tyranny of the majority.

    Governor Christie's comments seems to imply that anything favored by the public should become law, and that courts should not determine whether the results of referendums and legislation passed by Congress is invalid because it is is in violation of the U.S. Constitution as they did in the DOMA case.

  • Rev. William Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors:
  • "We are devastated that the Supreme Court succumbed to political pressure by voting to weaken the sacred institution. They neglected our most precious children who need a mother and a father united in marriage for healthy development." 4

  • Statement by the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America:
  • "In response to the decisions announced today by the United States Supreme Court with reference to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, we reiterate the historical position of the Jewish faith, enunciated unequivocally in our Bible, Talmud and Codes, which forbids homosexual relationships and condemns the institutionalization of such relationships as marriages. Our religion is emphatic in defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Our beliefs in this regard are unalterable. At the same time, we note that Judaism teaches respect for others and we condemn discrimination against individuals. 

    "We are grateful that we live in a democratic society, in which all religions are free to express their opinions about social issues and to advocate vigorously for those opinions. The reason we opt to express our viewpoint in a public forum is because we believe that our Divine system of law not only dictates our beliefs and behaviors, but also represents a system of universal morality, and therefore can stake a claim in the national discourse. That morality, expressed in what has broadly been labeled Judeo-Christian ethics, has long had a place in American law and jurisprudence. 

    "We also recognize that no religion has the right to dictate its beliefs to the entire body politic and we do not expect that secular law will always align with our viewpoint. Ultimately, decisions on social policy remain with the democratic process, and today the process has spoken and we accord the process and its result the utmost respect." 5

  • Welton Gaddy, the Interfaith Alliance:
  • "I am hopeful that today’s decision striking down DOMA as unconstitutional and overturning the Proposition 8 case on standing will be followed by continued victories in this fight for equality. That a majority of the Court recognized in the DOMA case that this was an issue of equal protection denied is no small victory. 

    "To those critics who will try to characterize these decisions as a threat to their religious freedom, let me say they could not be more wrong. No members of the clergy can be required to perform a religious ceremony that goes against the dictates of their faith, and thanks to the protections afforded by the First Amendment nothing in today’s decisions changes that fact. Interfaith Alliance’s work for LGBT equality is not finished and we will not be finished until all Americans are afforded the rights restored today for the people of California." 6

  • The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies of The Episcopal Church:
  • "I join with millions of Christians across the country in celebrating today’s Supreme Court rulings that extend equal protection under federal law to all marriages and allow marriage equality to resume in California. We are moving ever closer to civil laws that recognize the God-given dignity and equality of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers. 

    "Today’s rulings will allow more people of all faiths to see what we in the Episcopal Church have seen for decades:  Same-sex couples and their families are evidence of the goodness of God’s creation. They bless our congregations and communities immeasurably, and we have all learned from their steadfast love for one another and the evidence of God’s goodness that they show us." 6

  • Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington DC:
  • "Scripture teaches us that God shows no partiality. Today our country has moved closer to this vision of equality and unity, and I give thanks for our progress. Now, as always, the ability to create a more just and caring country lies with us. Heartened by today’s decisions, may we recommit ourselves to this difficult but holy work." 6

The National Cathedral in Washington, DC rang its bells on the morning when the Supreme Court rulings were handed down. They also had a special gathering for the LGBT community and their allies.

  • Rev. J. Bennett Guess, a national officer of the United Church of Christ:

    "This is a great day for marriage equality, for all couples, gay or straight, because the Supreme Court has underscored the central point that marriage is ultimately about deep commitment between two people who love one another, not prescribed gender roles. While we still yearn for the day when equal marriage is fully legal, granted and protected in all 50 states, this is a significant step toward full freedom and recognition for LGBT people by the U.S. federal government. ..."

    "It's a huge step forward, but we have more work to do. Thirty-eight states still do not allow same-gender marriage, and the implications of that, in light of this decision, are not yet fully clear. My partner and I are legally married in Massachusetts but reside in Ohio, where recognition is not granted. How the DOMA decision is applied to couples in a transient nation appears to be a big issue that still needs to be litigated. Still, the larger movement toward full equality is advancing rapidly, and the UCC is at the center of that reality. ..."

    "The UCC is a bold, public voice for equality and fairness and, today, our early controversial witness for marriage equality is being embraced by a tidal shift in public opinion, including the U.S. Supreme Court." 7

    The United Church of Christ was the first mainline denomination to support same-sex marriage. Their General Synod in 2005 passed a resolution affirming equal marriages for all people, regardless of gender.

  • Sometimes, the most effective arguments for marriage equality appear in short phrases on T-shirts and signs:

    • Orie Urami, Meeting and Conference Services Manager at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York City:

      Her T-shirt contained the saying: "Marriage is so gay" when she greeted plaintiff Edith Windsor with her lawyer Roberta Kaplan after the Supreme Court's decision. 8

    • Michael Knaapen embraced his husband John Becker outside the Supreme Court after learning of the Court's decision:

      He wore a T-shirt with the saying: "I AM GAY, I AM STRAIGHT, I AM LESBIAN, I AM BISEXUAL, I AM TRANSGENDER, I AM HUMAN. 9

    • Unidentified family of four outside the Supreme Court building held a hand-made sign reading:

      "We love our straight daughter and gay son equally." 10

    • Unidentified woman at the Supreme Court held a sign saying:

      "Don't hate. Celebrate love." 11

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Still more reactions to the Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor continues in the next essay.

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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. "Supreme Court Marriage Rulings," LDS Church, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/
  2. Bart Day, "Upholding Marriage: God’s Plan and Gift." The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://blogs.lcms.org/
  3. Penny Nance & Janice Crouse, "Supreme Court Stands on Shaky Ground, Losing Credibility Fast," Concerned Women for America, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.cwfa.org/
  4. "Reaction to court ruling that strikes down provision denying benefits to married gay couples," Associated Press, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
  5. "Orthodox Union Statement on Today’s Supreme Court Rulings," Orthodox Union, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.ou.org/
  6. Elizabeth Tenety, "Religious leaders see tragedy and justice in Supreme Court gay marriage decisions," Washington Post, 2013-JUN-26, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  7. Anthony Moujaes, "A Supreme Court shift toward marriage equality," United Church of Christ, 2013-JUN-26. at: http://www.ucc.org/
  8. AP photograh #6 in a series of 102 photos at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  9. Ibid, photograph 44.
  10. Ibid, photograph 53.
  11. Ibid, photograph 78.

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-JUN-29
Latest update: 2013-JUL-05
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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