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Religious Tolerance logo

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage (aka gay
marriage) across the U.S. in its ruling of The Obergefell v. Hodges
case from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee.

Part 41: 2015-JUNE-26 to 30:
A note to same-sex couples planning to marry.
Status of gay marriage.
New York Times article on evangelical Christians'
response to same-sex marriage.
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We use the term "gay marriage."to represent the marriage of two persons of
the same sex. We prefer "Same-sex marriage," a more inclusive term that
includes spouses with a bisexual sexual orientation, but it would make this web
site harder to find.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Note to same-sex couples planning to marry soon:

It is important to realize that decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court do not normally take effect immediately. The Court typically gives the losing side three weeks in which to request that the High Court reconsider their verdict. In this consolidated case, it is the defendants from the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee who might make such a request. Thus, many, perhaps most, courthouses across the nation in states that had a gay marriage ban in place as of 2015-JUN-26 will not be issuing marriage licenses at least until the middle of July. That date may be further delayed if one or more defendants decides to exercise their right to request a review.

If you are really anxious to marry quickly, you might contact your local courthouse to see if they are currently issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. If they are, and if you proceed to marry right away, there is a very small chance that your marriage could be disallowed at sometime in the future if a defendant requests a review and in the unlikely event that the U.S. Supreme Court changes its ruling.

It is obvious that the Justices of the High Court are deeply divided in their judicial philosophy. One group of four Justices interprets the federal Constitution as a living document whose meaning changes as the American culture evolves. Another group of four views the federal Constitution in terms of what it its language has traditionally meant. A third group interprets the Constitution in terms of the authors' thoughts and intentions at the time that it was written. These Justices have carefully considered their position and are extremely unlikely to change their opinion about marriage equality. Thus, it is extremely improbable that the Supreme Court might flip-flop with their ruling. In all probability, marriage equality is here to stay, even in the Deep South of the U.S.

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2015-JUN-25: A review of the status of gay marriage in the U.S.:

One day before the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges on JUN-26, gay marriage was available in 36 states, in some areas of Missouri, in the District of Columbia, and the Territory of Guam. It was still banned completely in 13 states and four territories -- two in the Pacific and two in the Atlantic Ocean.

On JUN-26, the High Court legalized gay marriages across the entire country. In theory, the court ruling does not take effect until mid-July. However, some of the 13 states are mounting defenses immediately in order to try to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Other states are "jumping the gun" and issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. It will take a while for the status of gay marriages to stabilize across the U.S. Chaos will reign for a while in some states, and in some counties.

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New York Times' article on beliefs about gay marriage among religious conservatives in the United States :

Michael Paulson, writing for the New York Times newspaper, describes the impact that the High Court's JUN-26 ruling has had on religious and social conservatives:

He wrote about his experiences attending Wheaton Bible Church in a Chicago, IL suburb on JUN-28. The opening prayer declared it "a dark day." The pastor read a statement saying that the church's elders and staff were "deeply saddened." The sermon dealt with a psalm of lament. Lon Allison, Wheaton’s teaching pastor, read a statement, saying:

"I came in with a great sense of lament, because of what happened on Friday. We cannot accept or adhere to any legal, political or cultural redefinition of biblical marriage, nor will we conduct or endorse same-sex ceremonies." 5

Fortunately for this congregation, the "wall of separation of church and state" that is implicit in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that churches are free to deny marriage to same-sex couples, or to any couple for any other reason, with impunity. For centuries, couples have asked pastors, ministers, and priests to marry then and have been refused. That was because they were interracial, of the wrong religion, of the wrong denomination within the right religion, were black, were of the same sex, were too young, were too closely related, were judged to be insincere or lacking in maturity, etc. To our knowledge, no member of the clergy has ever been charged with any offence because they rejected a couple who wanted to marry.

All Churches are free to refuse to marry same-sex couples, to recognize their marriages solemnized elsewhere, to extend membership or leadership positions to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons, transsexuals, etc. However, about 90% of the adult American population now favors allowing interracial couples to marry; many of them regard anyone who thinks differently to be a bigoted racist. Over time, the same feelings may emerge towards people and congregations that refuse to accept marriage equality.

Paulson writes:

"The dramatic shift in public opinion, and now in the nation’s laws, has left evangelical Protestants, who make up about a quarter of the American population, in an uncomfortable position. Out of step with the broader society, and often derided as discriminatory or hateful, many are feeling under siege as they try to live out their understanding of biblical teachings, and worry that a changing legal landscape on gay rights will inevitably lead to constraints on religious freedom. 5

He reports that fundamentalist and other evangelical Christian denominations are also experiencing internal pressures from members of the LGBT community. Some church members are from families in which loved ones have come out of the closet and revealed that they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Other members of the LGBT community, who are open with their sexuality, are coming to worship in evangelical churches. Many are sexually active, within a marriage, within a loving, committed same-sex relationship, or as a single person. The Wheaton statement said:

"There is a growing desire on the part of some, even within the church, to combine their Christian faith with the acceptance of homosexual practice."

Ed Stetzer is the executive director of LifeWay Research, which conducts polls of evangelical Christians. He said:

"Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage. They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do. ... Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V. If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal."

The Pew Research Center finds that 27% of white evangelicals favor marriage equality; 70% remain opposed. 5

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Although the vast majority of members of Wheaton Bible Church agree with the position of its leadership, a few members disagreed or have reservations:

  • One member who preferred to remain anonymous, said:

    "It’s not a sad day. It’s a happy day."

  • Another said:

    "The court made the right decision."

  • John Mulsoff, 66, said:

    "I’m very conflicted about it. I believe, as our church does, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but I don’t believe in discrimination, and I can’t say how I would deal with it if I had a son or a daughter in that situation."

  • Claudia Velazquez, 21, said:

    “I don’t agree with legalization, but I do respect the human beings. It does not take away from their character, and at the end they’re a creation of God, too." 5

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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Related essays:

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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. "Paxton: County clerks can refuse to issue same-sex licenses," USA Today, 2015-JUN-29, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  2. "Attorney General Ken Paxton: Following High Court’s Flawed Ruling, Next Fight is Religious Liberty," Office of the Texas Attorney General, 2015-JUN-26, at: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/
  3. Judd Legum, "Texas Attorney General Encourages County Clerks To Ignore Supreme Court, Turn Away Same-Sex Couples," Think Progress, 2015-JUN-28, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  4. From the King James Version of the Bible.
  5. Michael Paulson, "With Same-Sex Decision, Evangelical Churches Address New Reality," The New York Times, 2015-JUN-28, at: http://www.nytimes.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-JUN-30
Latest update: 2015-JUL-05
Author: - Robinson
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