Upon the release of U.S. Supreme Court’s majority ruling on Prop 8 and federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), conservative Christian leaders have expressed deep disappointments; however, they saw that the High Court’s refusal to find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage as a victory and asserted that Prop 8 remains standing as part of California's state law.
With a 5-4 majority vote, the Supreme Court ruled against Section 3 of DOMA that deals only with federal recognition of marriages in those states that have adopted gender-neutral marriage. Yet, the court’s majority opinion said it was not requiring states to adopt same-sex marriage.
“This decision effectively means that we no longer will have an effective federal definition of marriage,” said Alan Sears, president, CEO and General Counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). “It appears that the federal government may have to accept any version of marriage that a state invents.”
In United States v. Windsor, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia wrote dissenting opinions, claiming the Court lacks jurisdiction to review the decisions and that Congress acted constitutionally in passing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Scalia writes in his dissent that, "[the Court has] no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation [DOMA]. The Court's errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America."
Writing in dissent, Scalia warned that the DOMA ruling would become fodder to groups challenging state bans on gay marriage, saying the issue should be left to the political battles unfolding across the country.
"By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its tradition definition," Scalia wrote.
Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate and former Arkansas governor, urged in an email to supporters to elect people “who support Life and Marriage,” according to Washington Times.
“My immediate thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: ‘Jesus wept,’” the Republican said. “Five people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of California and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all.”
Also by a 5-4 decision, the Court chose to sidestep ruling on Prop 8’s validity, because since California’s government officials, Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, refused to defend Prop 8, there was no “case” for the Court to decide. However, four judges dissented, agreeing with California’s Supreme Court that the Prop 8 defendants have a proper standing to give Prop 8 a defense.
Justice Kennedy Anthony has often been the swing vote in many of the Court’s 5-4 decisions. While having voted to invalidate a key provision of DOMA for violating the Fifth Amendment, he wrote in his dissent to majority’s opinion on Prop 8, “This decision has frustrated the initiative process by failing to give the people their day in court.”
Brain Brown, Nation for Marriage president, has called the decision “illegitimate” and a “miscarriage of justice” for dismissing Prop 8 on procedural grounds, and for invalidating a key provision of DOMA.
Meanwhile, the Traditional Marriage supporters view the Supreme Court’s refusal to accept the plaintiff’s pleas to change the definition of marriage, and to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right, which was the opposing camps primary objectives, as a major victory.
In addition, the Supreme Court “vacated” (erased) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s previous ruling against Prop 8, which means that there is no legal precedent for same-sex marriage. And California’s Constitution says that only an appellate court, not a single trial court judge, can stop a proposition’s enforcement statewide, said Andy Pugno, Prop 8 General Counsel of ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponent of Prop 8, in an email statement. Thus, Prop 8 appears to remain the law of the state of California.
What Will Happen From Now?
Pugno addressed the discrepancy between his assertion that Prop 8 remains standing and the same-sex proponents claim the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings as a “sweeping victory,” which media “have largely repeated without question.”
“I believe that has happened because our opposition was ready to declare total victory no matter what happened,” said Pugno, adding that the plaintiffs got almost “none of what they sued for.”
Nevertheless, the Governor and Attorney General have rushed to announce plans to reinstate same-sex marriage licenses available throughout California in the next three or four weeks.
Austin Nimocks, Prop 8 Co-Counsel, said Wednesday in an interview with CNN that he expects California Government to uphold the state’s constitution to restrict marriage to only heterosexual couples as Proposition 8 remains standing without an appellate court striking it down.
Christian Conservatives’ Assessment of Consequences and Opportunities
Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, said in an online statement the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify. As many questions would arise as the ruling answers, he said. “What would happen to the status of gay couples under federal law if they move to another state that does not recognize their ‘marriage’”- a whole new round of litigation would ensue.
Furthermore, Perkins addressed the negative implications of the process upon which the rulings were achieved.
“By ignoring the standing of Prop 8 proponents to defend Prop 8, the balance of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government is distorted,” he said. “The court’s decision allows the executive branch to effectively veto any duly enacted law, simply by refusing to defend it against a constitutional challenge.”
Despite the disappointment that these rulings have caused, Perkins explained the hope that remains in the outcome of the SCOTUS rulings.
“We are encouraged that the court learned from the disaster of Roe v. Wade and refrained from redefining marriage for the entire country that was sought by gay marriage supporters,” he said. “What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father.”
ADF, a ministry consisting of Christian attorneys, also issued a statement, “Legal battles over the definition of marriage have provided and will continue to provide the perfect opportunities to reintroduce the American people to the goodness and value of marriage.”
“Once the people examine all dimensions of the debate, and why marriage is important, we’re confident America will return to a strong and healthy marriage culture, recognizing that marriage is the institution upon which a healthy and thriving society is built.”
Sears quoted Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."
“We know the truth will ultimately win. The truth about the uniqueness of men and women, moms and dads, and the public purpose in the good accomplished through marriage will ultimately prevail. Even if it takes time and trial for generations to rediscover it, truth will prevail,” he said.
For update and analysis, visit Alliance Defending Freedom website here.