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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 51:
2015-JULY: Alabama Supreme Court asks for
advice. The "path forward" for gay marriage.
Another webmaster's note.
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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 because most search engines cannot handle synonyms.
"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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2015-JUL-11: Submissions to the Alabama Supreme Court by conservative religious groups:

After the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Obergefell case, the Alabama Supreme Court announced that it would accept arguments and motions suggesting how it should handle currently active marriage cases in the state.

Mat Staver is the founder and chairperson of Liberty Counsel. It is a conservative Christian legal advocacy group. He filed a brief with the court, saying:

"There is existing precedent for a state’s highest court to reject an unlawful mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court. The hope of our constitutional Republic rests upon state officials and American citizens who will refuse to allow five, black-robed judges to rob us of our free, representative form of government. A judicial opinion without constitutional basis is not law and should not be followed by any state or citizen." 1

He noted that when the U.S. Supreme Court issued it ruling in the Dred Scott case during the 1850's, the High Court ruled that blacks were not entitled to full protection as citizens. At that time, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to follow the High Court ruling. This, of course, is the exact opposite to the current situation. On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to full access as citizens to marriage, which previously had been restricted to opposite-sex couples.

Staver also suggested that the Alabama Supreme Court should protect the right of Probate Judges to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them, even though by doing so they are violating their oaths of office in which they promise to uphold the U.S. Constitution. They are also violating the Golden Rule as taught by the faith groups to which they belong. He also feels that the Court should protect retail outlets who want to violate state or local Human Rights legislation by refusing to provide same-sex couples with goods and services.

His brief asserts that the Obergefell ruling is:

"... is an assault on the rule of law … on Alabamian and American democracy … on natural law … on the constitutional right of free exercise of religion." 1

The brief does not seem to refer to the historical meaning freedom of religion, which traditionally involved freedom of religious belief, speech, assembly, proselytizing, etc. These freedoms are very effectively protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He refers to the freedom of county employees and owners of retail store to discriminate against and denigrate the LGBT community with impunity.

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2015-JUL-14: The path forward on what is variously called marriage equality, gay marriage, and same-sex marriage:

The right of same-sex couples to marry appears to be settled law in every area of the United States except for one U.S. territory: American Samoa. Here, the territorial government has not yet decided whether to recognize the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Those who live in American Territories do not necessarily enjoy all the same personal freedoms and rights as do Americans in the 50 states and District of Columbia. In the case of American Samoa, a court case may be necessary to force marriage equality on the local government. The total population of American Samoa is only about 60,000 persons. So there are probably fewer than 2,000 adult lesbians, gays or bisexuals in the territory. This compares to about 15 million who live in the rest of the U.S.

Elsewhere in the U.S., a few county clerks are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Also some judges who are assigned to marry couples in civil ceremonies are refusing to solemnize marriages of same-sex couples. All the cases reported in the media appear to involve conservative Christians objecting to gay marriage on religious grounds.

A few county offices are, at least temporarily, going out of the marriage business entirely and are not issuing licenses to any couples. But most are obeying their oath of office which includes working in conformity with the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, many county clerks who have some objections to marriage equality on religious grounds are issuing licenses anyway because of the importance of the Golden Rule in their personal lives. This rule exists in all major religions. It instructs each person to treat others as that person would wish be treated by others. For Christian believers, this means following the commands of Jesus in the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke. Finally, in many locations, informal arrangements are being made to direct all license and marriage requests from same-sex couples to certain clerks and judges and away from others. This appears to be an informal and effective "win-win" solution to the problem of certain officials refusing to be involved in gay marriages because of their personal religious beliefs.

National public opinion polls in 2011 first showed that over 50% of American adults favored legalizing gay marriage. This value has historically been increasing by about 10 to 15 percentage points per decade. Recent polls show that slightly more than 60% of American adults favor allowing gay marriage. This value is expected to continue increasing into the future. The increase is largely being driven by older teens and young adults who are much more accepting of the LGBT community.

However, support for gay marriage still varies enormously among different faith groups. During 2014-MAR, the Pew Research Center published a chart showing support for marriage equality by faith group. They show that in order of decreasing support:

  • 77% of NOTAs -- those NOT Affiliated with any organized faith group 2 -- favor gay marriage, as do:
  • 62% of white mainline protestants
  • 59% of Roman Catholics
  • 43% of black Protestants (a minority), and
  • 23% of white evangelical Protestants (a small minority). 3

Alone among faith groups, evangelical Protestants had shown no increase in support for gay marriages between 2013 and 2014.

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Webmaster's note: [bias alert]

I posted the following comment to the Pew Research 's "FACTANK" article from which the above data was obtained:

"My personal belief is that the increase in support for same-sex marriage nationally is driven by seven main factors, none of which seem likely to reverse in the future:

  1. A growing acceptance of the belief that a person's sexual orientation is determined by birth and is later discovered, not chosen.

  2. A growing acceptance of the belief that, in adulthood, one's sexual orientation cannot be changed.

  3. A growing realization that homosexuality is natural because it is found in all mammals, including humans, and in many other species.

  4. The millennial generation is the first cohort in which most people know a member of the LGBT community as a personal friend or family member. Knowing a lesbian or gay short-circuits a lot of false information being circulated about sexual orientation.

  5. More people are interpreting the six "clobber passages" in the Bible that have been used to attack the LGBT community as being silent on same-sex marriage. They are being increasingly interpreted as condemning same-gender rape, sex with temple prostitutes, heterosexuals engaging in same-gender sex against their basic nature, men sexually abusing boys, and humans having sex with another species.

  6. A fear by religious and social conservatives that as the support for gay marriage increases, those who remain opposed will start to be considered bigots on the same level as are those who promote racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.

  7. A growing realization that only about 5% of the adult population are lesbians and gays -- not about 20% as many adults believe." 3

Unfortunately, this comment did not survive the Pew Research moderating process and thus never appeared on their web site. 3

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This topic 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. Bob Unruh, "Will Alabama rebel against marriage ruling?," WND Faith, 2015-JUL-11, at: http://www.wnd.com/
  2. On this web site, we often use the term "NOTAs" to refer to "NOT Affiliated" or "None Of The Above" to refer to individuals who are not affiliated with any religious group. The media generally uses the term "NONES" which we feel is not suitable because when spoken it is indistinguishable from the word "NUNS" which refer to a different and entirely unrelated religious group.
  3. Michael Lipka & Elizabeth Sciupac, "Support for gay marriage up among black Protestants in last year, flat among white evangelicals," Pew Research Center, 2014-MAR-17, at: http://www.pewresearch.org/

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-JUL-12
Latest update: 2015-AUG-13
Author: B.A. Robinson
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