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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 5: 2013-JUN: The Hill's predictions about
same-sex marriage (SSM) becoming available
across the entire U.S.
2015-JAN: Supreme Court meeting. How this
may change Christian opposition to SSM.

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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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2013-JUN: An article in The Hill suggested that the Supreme Court could legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states relatively soon:

Sam Baker, writing for "The Hill" shortly after the Windsor v. United States decision in mid-2013 said:

"Legal experts say the Supreme Court's rulings this week on same-sex marriage send the clear signal the justices are likely to strike down state marriage laws that reach the High Court. Justice Antonin Scalia drew the same conclusion in his dissent to the court’s 5-4 decision rejecting the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said his decision applied only to the federal government, leaving it to the states to set their own definitions of marriage.

But Scalia dismissed Kennedy’s assertion, saying the court clearly indicated that it would strike down state marriage laws soon enough. And legal experts say Scalia was probably right.

'It’s hard to read Kennedy’s opinion and not see that quoted word-for-word in every appellate brief challenging a state ban on gay marriage in the future,' said Ilya Shapiro, a senior legal fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute." 4

Justice Kennedy had written that the intent of the DOMA law was to provide:

"... interference with the equal dignity of same-sex marriages ... The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples."

Is Justice Kennedy's estimate of the number of children being humiliated correct? If we assume a population of the U.S. of 314 million, that 5% of the population is gay or lesbian and that 75% of the population are adults, then there about 12 million adult gay and lesbians in the country. If we assume that 30% live together and have an average of 0.5 children each, and that 70% lived in states that do not allow SSM as of mid-2013, then there was the potential for over a million children to be humiliated and denigrated by others because their parents are not married. The actual number is probably larger then a million, since this calculation is based on conservative numbers. It also does not include families in which on or both same-sex parents are bisexual. Justice Kennedy's mid-2013 estimate of "tens of thousands of children" being raised by same-sex parents seems to be very low by perhaps two orders of magnitude.

In Windsor v. United States, four other Justices agreed with his ruling. As a result, Section 3 of the DOMA law was declared unconstitutional, and same-sex married couples whose marriages were recognized where they live, were able to access 1,138 federal plans, benefits, and protections for the first time, on a par with opposite-sex married couples.

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wedding rings2015-JAN-09: Activity at the U.S. Supreme Court:

On Friday, 2014-JAN-09, the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are scheduled to meet to decide whether to grant certiorari -- accept an appeal -- of one or more of the five lawsuits before them. The cases originated in Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. All but the Louisiana case resulted from a decision by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of state bans on SSM by a 2:1 vote.

In contrast, the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have all issued separate rulings recently that support SSM. This "circuit split" makes it quite likely that the high court will accept one or more of these five lawsuits for review. If they do so,then hearings would probably be held in the Spring, and a ruling will probably be issued by late 2015-JUN.

Justice Kennedy -- and the four other Justices who formed the majority opinion in Windsor v. United States -- might well use essentially the same arguments to find the state ban(s) unconstitutional. If the high court finds one state's same-sex marriage ban in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, it would likely issue a ruling that finds all the other 13 states that deny marriage equality to violate of the federal Constitution. Thus, a single Supreme Court ruling may well legalize marriage equality across the entire country by mid-2015. This is what the high court did during 1967 in Loving v. Virginia concerning interracial marriage.

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How might opposition to marriage equality change if same-sex marriages become legalized across the U.S.?

Jonathan Merritt described in the Religious News Service about how opposition to SSM might change if it is legalized nationwide. 6

He noted that progressives and conservatives use different terms to refer to the conflict over SSM. Progressives use terms like "equality" and "marriage equality," and tap into Americans love of "liberty and justice for all." Conservative use terms like "redefinition of marriage" and tap into the fear and concern associated with making fundamental changes to the established institution of marriage. Studies have shown that these two terms are quite effective. Opinion polls that ask the public about gays and lesbians attaining marriage equality show greater support for SSM; polls that discuss homosexuals attempting to redefine marriage show much less support.

Merritt found that conservative Christians -- the main source of opposition to SSM in the U.S. -- may take two different approaches towards SSM:

  • 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 impact 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 court were to] redefine marriage, [Christians should] be ready to offer an alternative vision of marriage and family. 6

    Moore is apparently referring to the approximately six passages in the Bible that appear to refer to same-gender sexual behavior. Many liberal and mainline Christians would differ from his conclusion about the clarity of Scriptures about same-sex marriage and this type of sexual behavior. Many conclude that these "clobber passages" in the Bible condemn:

    • same-gender rape,

    • same-sex sexual activity in Pagan temple with prostitutes,

    • kidnapping slaves,

    • adults sexually abusing children,

    • engaging in sexual behavior that is against one's sexual orientation and basic nature, and/or

    • engaging in bestiality -- sexual activity with a non-human species.

Many Christians who are not conservative view the Bible as silent on same-gender sexual activity within a loving relationship or same-sex marriage.

Russell Moore's alternative would still restrict marriages to opposite-sex couples. Their theological position would be mainly promoted within their churches. Political activity 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 [opposite-sex] marriage seriously. This means we must start teaching our children a counter cultural 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."

  • Ryan Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, expects the high court to accept one or more appeals of SSM lawsuits during 2015. He estimates that four of the five conservatives on the court will vote against marriage equality, the four liberals on the court to vote in favor, and Justice Kennedy to be the swing vote which will determine the Court's ruling. This was the 5:4 voting pattern seen in the high court's rulings in Lawrence v. Texas which legalized same-gender sexual behavior among consenting adults in private. It also was seen in the Windsor v, United States case that gutted the main section of the federal DOMA law. He expects that the court ruling 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." 6

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

He said:

"Christians are increasingly saying that they need to stand up for LGBT equality no matter what they believe theologically, and they are doing this not because they are American, but because they are followers of Christ." 6

  • Justin Lee is the executive director of the Gay Christian Network. He said:
  • "There is a distinction between Christian marriage in the eyes of God and civil marriage in the eyes of the state. My hope is that Christians will continue to see that what the state says marriage is may not line up with what the church or God says." 6

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

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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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Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > SSM > Future > here

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Copyright © 2013 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2013-JUL-15
Latest update: 2015-JAN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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