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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 66:
2015-SEP-21 to 27:
Ted Cruze sounds off on marriage equality.
Conservative/liberal views of human rights.
Kim Davis has private meeting with Pope Francis.
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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-SEP-22: Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R) presented a conservative view of marriage equality:

On the Late Show by Stephen Colbert, Cruz referred to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June on marriage equality. He said:

"I don’t think we should entrust governing our society to five unelected lawyers in Washington. Why would you possibly hand over the rights of 320 million Americans to five lawyers in Washington to say, 'we’re going to decide the rules to govern you.' If you want to win an issue, go to the ballot box and win at the ballot box." 1

The audience reacted by booing. Colbert criticized his audience for their reaction and asked them to show respect to his guest.

One might argue that the Supreme Court did not restrict the rights of 320 million Americans in their ruling. After all, allowing same-sex couples to marry did not significantly restrict the freedom of heterosexual Americans to marry. Rather the court decision extended the right of same-sex couples -- composed of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals -- to be able to marry. This resulted in a net gain of freedom for Americans.

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2015-SEP-22: Part of the reason for disagreements about marriage equality lies in the perceived structure of the U.S. Government:

The above incident demonstrates a difference in understanding between social/religious conservatives and liberals about the fundamental nature of the United States, the federal Constitution, the functions of the High Court, and human rights:

  • Many conservatives believe that:
    1. The United States is a democracy; the vote of the public is the highest authority in the land. The voters in each state, district, or territory should be able to determine who many marry either directly by an amendment to their state constitution, or indirectly through an action of their legislature.

    2. Elementary human rights -- like the right to marry the person that one loves and to whom they are committed for a lifetime -- are not guaranteed by the federal Constitution. They can be terminated if a simple majority of the population in a state, district, or territory wants to eliminate equal rights for a disliked or mistrusted minority.

    3. When the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling declaring a state law to be unconstitutional they are actually writing legislation. This is illegal and is not within their jurisdiction. Writing legislation can only be performed by a state, district or territorial legislature.

    4. The topic of same-sex marriage is too important to be left up to the decision of five Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.

    5. The federal Constitution does not mention marriage. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution plainly states that:

      "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Marriage law cannot be left up to the people, because some individuals might then decide to marry their siblings, their dogs, etc. Thus, marriage law is the responsibility of the individual states.

  • Many liberals believe that:
    1. The United States is a constitutional democracy. The federal constitution is the highest authority in the land. A main purpose of this constitution is to place some factors beyond the control of the public. The founders of the United States were concerned about what they called "the tyranny of the majority." They wanted to prevent a biased majority from wiping out rights of minorities.

    2. Elementary human rights are guaranteed by the federal Constitution and cannot be terminated even if a majority of voters wants to deprive an disliked minority of those rights. In particular, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantee that the federal, state and local governments must treat citizens equally.

    3. When the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling declaring a state law to be unconstitutional they are simply declaring the law to be null and unenforceable. The state can then either stop enforcing the law or can replace it with new legislation. A case in point involved legislation in 16 states that banned interracial marriage. When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized such marriages in 1967, the state bans were instantly declared unconstitutional and unenforceable. However it took well into the 21st century before all these laws and constitutional amendments were actually repealed.

    4. The federal Constitution is a complex document. There needs to be a part of the government that is given the responsibility to interpret the Constitution whenever a conflict occurs. Traditionally, that responsibility has been assigned to the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that court's decision on 2015-JUN-26, there were on the order of 100 judges on state and federal courts who ruled in cases dealing with marriage equality. Essentially all of them ruled in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Thus, the vote of the five Justices was not made on a whim; it was backed up by many dozens of lower court judges. Further, support for marriage equality by the public has been increasing since polls on this topic were started; support now exceeds 60%.

    5. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does guarantee that marriage law is the responsibility of the individual states. However, as noted above, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that when a legislators create or amend any piece of legislation, it cannot violate the U.S. Constitution. Thus, a state marriage law -- or a state constitutional amendment affecting marriage -- must treat individuals -- and thus couples -- equally.

Unfortunately, these two very different concepts of the structure of the United States are widespread. Little dialog exists to resolve them.

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2015-SEP-24: Clerk Kim Davis and her husband met with Pope Francis:

By all accounts in the media, this meeting took place in the Vatican Embassy in Washington. However, there is no concensus about the nature of the meeting and what was said.

Kim Davis' lawyer has said that a church official contacted Davis and arranged a ten minute meeting involving Pope Francis, Kim, and her husband on SEP-24. The Vatican later said that it won't deny that such a meeting took place, but had no further comment.

After the meeting in Washington, DC, Ms Davis issued a statement saying:

"I was humbled to meet Pope Francis. Of all people, why me? ... Pope Francis was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable. He even asked me to pray for him. Pope Francis thanked me for my courage and told me to 'stay strong'."

Her comment would seem to indicate that Pope Francis supported Kim Davis' discrimination against same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses.

On SEP-27, during his flight back to Rome, Pope Francis was asked directly if he supports individuals -- including government employees -- who refuse to abide by some laws like those requiring county clerks to supply marriage licenses to all quallified couples because to do so would conflict with their religious beliefs.

He responded that everyone has the right -- based on their personal religious beliefs -- to discriminate against others in most cases. Pope Francis told reporters, in Italian:

"I can't have in mind all cases that can exist about conscientious objection. But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying: 'This right has merit, this one does not."

In his response, Pope Francis apparently either did not consider the Golden Rule or rejected its application here. This is the mandate by Jesus to treat others as one would wish to be treated in return. He also apparently did not consider government officials' oaths of office as being applicable here.

Yet Reuters wrote that:

"Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said Davis was one of ''\several dozen' people who had been invited by the Vatican ambassador to see Francis during his visit to the U.S. capital.

'The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,' Lombardi said in a statement." 5

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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. "Ted Cruz’s Line on Gay Marriage Draws Hisses and Boos From ‘Late Show’ Audience — Watch Stephen Colbert’s Response," The Blaze, 2015-SEP-22, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
  2. Ed Payne & Daniel Burke, "Kim Davis met with Pope Francis for 10 minutes, received a rosary,"CNN News, 2015-SEO-30, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  3. Father Federico Lombardi, "Holy See Press Office issues statement on Pope's meeting with Kim Davis," Vatican Radio, 2015-OCT-02, at: http://www.news.va/
  4. "Bible verses about adultery and Divorce, King James Bible Online, at: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/
  5. Phiip Pullella, "Sense of regret in Vatican over pope meeting with gay marriage opponent," Reuters, 2015-OCT-02, at: http://www.reuters.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-SEP-15
Latest update: 2015-OCT-05
Author: B.A. Robinson
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