Supreme Court Will Decide Whether to Hear Gay Marriage Cases Tomorrow

WASHINGTON (BP) — The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Friday to decide whether to take up several cases that could lead to the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states.

The public won’t find out what they decided for several days — as early as Monday — but Friday’s meeting is significant enough that both sides in the cultural debate are guessing what will happen. If the court takes up the cases, it could end up being the “Roe v. Wade” of gay marriage.

At issue are two laws: a federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and a California constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8.

Technically, only one section of DOMA is before the court — the section that defines marriage in federal law as being between one man and one woman. But the legal arguments the Obama administration’s Justice Department attorneys are using to oppose that section could be used to overturn the entire law, conservative attorneys say. That other section gives states the option of not recognizing gay marriage laws from other states. Courts have been split on DOMA, although the cases before the high court overturned the federal section at issue. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is defending DOMA in court.

California Prop 8 was approved by voters in 2008 and defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that struck it down. If the Supreme Court takes the Prop 8 case, it could do a number of things, including upholding Prop 8 or — in what would be a nightmare for Christian legal groups and evangelicals — reversing laws in any state that define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court also could choose not to take the Prop 8 case, a decision which would legalize gay marriage in California. (Read more here.)

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • flanoggin

    Thank you for a clear explanation of the issues. I can not, however, fathom why there is all this talk about gay marriage ruining traditional marriage. Would the efforts and money be better spent by revising divorce laws? It seems to me that lax divorce laws do far, far more harm to marriage, children and families. Thank you again.

    • Ted Seeber

      I think the majority of it is coming from sheltered populations who haven’t been touched by divorce, but are touched by the threat same-sex attraction represents.

      Both, however, are part and parcel of a disordered definition of liberty.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Unless the court pulls a roe v wade disaster or an Obamacare disaster, then I cannot see what choice they have but to leave it to the states. But I’m no legal scholar. The world and especially this country has so turned upside down these last few years that I’m not going to be surprised either way. But I will be upset.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      The whole federal tax code for citizens is based on filing status: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household. Other federal laws also distinguish based on marital status, including military benefits and so on; but the major one (as far as I can see) is the tax code. For good or ill, this makes marriage status in the states an issue at the federal level.

  • Peg

    Wow this is such a tough issue and I really wish we could have honest and civil discussion about it in this country. I have been blessed to know many wonderful gay family and friends in my life. I can understand why folks especially those with no belief in God would feel discriminated against.

    But I love Christ above all and thus my neighbor. I can’t love anyone fully and appropriately by going against natural law and divine law. What divides us is a different understanding of the nature and purpose of marriage much more so than bigotry.

    I was very saddened to see the reaction after the Prop 8 vote. Black people and Mormons were attacked for exercising their right to vote their conscience and much pressure was applied. I don’t feel the need to attack anyone in the four states for how they recently voted.

    I lost a very close friend to Aids years ago. He was a great guy who engaged in risky behavior and it was so sad. I don’t blame him nor God I just pray for healthy relationships and strong families and vote my conscience. I don’t know what the outcome will be here but I hope we son’ let it tear us apart or misjudge our neighbor in the process.

    • Bill S

      “But I love Christ above all and thus my neighbor. I can’t love anyone fully and appropriately by going against natural law and divine law.”

      Gravity is a natural law. The natural law that you refer to does not exist. And even if there were such a thing as a divine law, it would not address this issue.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        Bill, gravity is a physical law. It has nothing to do with “natural law” which is a theological construct. If natural law does not exist, then why do people all over the world in every culture and time instinctively “know” that certain things are wrong? Why do all people everywhere have a concept of morality, if there is no inborn natural law to prompt us to do so?
        Your second comment, that if even if there were such a thing as divine law, it would not address this issue, is you, speaking for God again. You do that a lot, my friend.
        Why exactly do you think that the God who told us to “be fruitful and multiply,” and Who told us that a “man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and they two shall be one flesh” and Who said in reference to marriage when He walked among us, “what God has put together, let not man put asunder” and Who cared so much about marriage that He performed his first public miracle at a marriage, a miracle that foreshadowed the Eucharist itself, what exactly makes you think that this God wouldn’t “address this issue” of redefining marriage in such a way that it makes a mockery of the whole idea of “a man shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh” and destroys the integrity of marriage by making it into a socially-defined rubber band of preferences instead of a holy, divinely-defined institution on which all Christian civilization is based?

        • Bill S

          “Bill, gravity is a physical law. It has nothing to do with “natural law” which is a theological construct.”

          Yes. It is a physical law and it is one of the laws of nature that cannot be violated. When something is said to be physically impossible it it is because it would violate one or more of the laws of nature.

          Theological constructs carry no weight in a court of law or anywhere outside of the religion that they apply to.

          “If natural law does not exist, then why do people all over the world in every culture and time instinctively “know” that certain things are wrong? Why do all people everywhere have a concept of morality, if there is no inborn natural law to prompt us to do so?”

          You will say that that means that it is “natural law”. The correct answer is complicated and has to do with the evolution of humanity.

          “Your second comment, that if even if there were such a thing as divine law, it would not address this issue, is you, speaking for God again. You do that a lot, my friend.”

          I’m not speaking for God because, as you know, I do not presently believe in anything supernatural.

          “Why exactly do you think that the God who told us to “be fruitful and multiply”

          The story is that God said that to either Adam and Eve or Noah’s family, I forget which, but it would have made more sense when it was said. We should be controlling population growth now.

          “and Who told us that a “man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife and they two shall be one flesh” and Who said in reference to marriage when He walked among us, “what God has put together, let not man put asunder” and Who cared so much about marriage that He performed his first public miracle at a marriage, a miracle that foreshadowed the Eucharist itself, what exactly makes you think that this God wouldn’t “address this issue” of redefining marriage in such a way that it makes a mockery of the whole idea of “a man shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh” and destroys the integrity of marriage by making it into a socially-defined rubber band of preferences instead of a holy, divinely-defined institution on which all Christian civilization is based?”

          I assume that all that is some kind of evidence that God opposes same sex marriage. We’ll see what the judges have to say about. I’ll go with what they say. Thanks.

          • Ted Seeber

            I’d like to see somebody investigate Dr. George Weinberg’s fiscal connections to the gay agenda in the late 1960s. I think that would be far more enlightening into the origins of gay marriage.

  • cermak_rd

    From the article:

    “In short, traditional marriage protects civil society by encouraging couples to remain together to rear the children they conceive,” the attorneys general wrote in their brief. “It creates the norm that potentially procreative sexual activity should occur in a long-term, cohabitative relationship. It is the institution that provides the greatest likelihood that both biological parents will nurture and raise the children they beget, which is optimal for children and society at large.”

    Doesn’t a 25% out of wedlock birth rate combined with the reality of children being reared by single parents due to divorce completely wipe out that argument? In some communities it is actually the norm that births will be out of wedlock. Those statements sound like a defense of marriage circa 1959, not 2012.

    • Ted Seeber

      That is because they are. If we had a rational definition of rape (instead of one based on the completely unclear and arbitrary definition of “consent”) maybe things would be different.

      Personally, I think the real answer is a return to the marriage laws of 1200, not 1959- get the government out of it and leave it to the Churches alone.

      I suspect that within 10 generations, we’d see a widespread return to heterosexual monogamy- because the damage done by divorce and premarital sex and homosexuality is NOT a survival trait in the long run.

      • Sus

        Your ideas about premarital sex and homosexuality scare me to death Ted.

        • Ted Seeber

          I know they do. They should. Better yet, they should scare you away from the hell that is created when you replace storge, phileos and agape with Sola Eros, which is what homosexuality and pre-marital sex do. Replacing love with lust feels great in the short term, but it is a dire mistake in the long term for the individual; and it’s an even worse mistake for an entire culture to go down the road of separating sex from procreation.

          Everything Pope Paul VI warned us about in Humanae Vitae has come true.

          • Bill S

            Ted,

            There are people who truly love one another that are either of the same sex or of the opposite sex who might choose not to marry or who live together before they get married. People can have fulfilling loving relationships without having children. Some can’t have children, some adopt children, some choose not to raise children.

            Instead of just saying “Everything Pope Paul VI warned us about in Humanae Vitae has come true” you should add “and we’re still here and life goes on”. “Humanae Vitae” spoke to families limiting their size through contraception and abortion and said it was wrong. Seeing that we have over 7 billion people on the planet, you would think that the Church might see the wisdom of trying to address over population. But it doesn’t. It just keeps saying “Be fruitful and multiply”.

            Bill

            • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

              Bill,
              “Humanae Vitae” is not about having large numbers of children – it’s about the methods used. Yes, one’s attitude about children comes into play, too, but this isn’t the main focus.

              “we’re still here and life goes on”
              Nice platitude, but isn’t the quality of life worth mentioning? The rapidly ballooning rates of AIDS, STD’s, broken hearts, women and children in poverty, fatherless children, etc. are surely not a cause for celebration, right? All of this is a result of the prevailing sexual morality which values individual pleasure and “right” to one’s own body over responsibility and faithfulness.

              • Bill S

                “All of this is a result of the prevailing sexual morality which values individual pleasure and “right” to one’s own body over responsibility and faithfulness.”

                And what laws would you have the government impose to change human nature?

                • Dave

                  well, stopping the killing of “inconvenient” human beings would be a good first step. Painful penalties against fathers who sire children out of wedlock would be a good idea, to follow up on that.

                  • Bill S

                    “Painful penalties against fathers who sire children out of wedlock would be a good idea, to follow up on that.”

                    I don’t see that happening, unfortunately.

                    • Ted Seeber

                      Sadly, neither do I. I just got minutes from our local Archdiocese office of Justice, Peace, and Life. This past meeting, which I missed due to the death of my father-in-law, had personal stories from four teenage mothers.

                      Three of whom had been kicked out by their parents for being pregnant. All of whom ran into the State of Oregon’s bigotry against teenage fathers- unable to get welfare assistance without first pushing the father out of the picture completely.

                      So yeah, rather the opposite appears to be happening. Instead of making fathers responsible, and helping them to be so, we’re pushing them out of the picture just so the mother can get childcare to go to school or work.

            • Ted Seeber

              “There are people who truly love one another that are either of the same sex or of the opposite sex who might choose not to marry or who live together before they get married. People can have fulfilling loving relationships without having children. Some can’t have children, some adopt children, some choose not to raise children.”

              Yes, that is Phileos. Not Eros. Sex isn’t necessary for it, and in fact, does direct harm to such relationships.

              “Instead of just saying “Everything Pope Paul VI warned us about in Humanae Vitae has come true” you should add “and we’re still here and life goes on”. ”

              For 54 million, life hasn’t gone on, and that is a huge part of the point. For several million others, the tradition of parenthood has been destroyed to the point that they can’t have a healthy relationship with another individual at all. Life hasn’t gone on- it’s gotten severely worse.

              ““Humanae Vitae” spoke to families limiting their size through contraception and abortion and said it was wrong. ”

              Among other things yes.

              “Seeing that we have over 7 billion people on the planet, you would think that the Church might see the wisdom of trying to address over population.”

              Why should they address a myth?
              http://persquaremile.com/2012/08/08/if-the-worlds-population-lived-like/

              The real problem isn’t overpopulation. The real problem is a bunch of selfish, greedy people thinking they deserve a life of luxury that would require five planets to give to everybody.

              When you are able to admit to mathematical reality, let me know.

              • Sus

                In an earlier comment Ted said “Personally, I think the real answer is a return to the marriage laws of 1200, not 1959″

                How would you go about making this happen? My fear is that you would support something militant to make people conform to your (church) take on what is moral. Would you support locking people up or killing them for having premarital sex?

                It’s not that I support premarital sex but I support people making their own decisions. I don’t feel it’s my place to judge people who aren’t in my own family.

                • Ted Seeber

                  The marriage laws of 1200 did not involve the government, they involved ONLY the Church. The government had no say in who could be married at all.

                  I support eliminating governmental intrusion into both bedroom and church, and supporting young people becoming fathers and mothers (and learning the responsibility to do so).

              • Bill S

                “Sex isn’t necessary for it, and in fact, does direct harm to such relationships.”
                And the government should do something about this how?

                “Life hasn’t gone on- it’s gotten severely worse.”
                It just seems to have gotten worse. For many it has gotten much better.

                “The real problem isn’t overpopulation. The real problem is a bunch of selfish, greedy people thinking they deserve a life of luxury that would require five planets to give to everybody.”
                Do you honestly believe that 7 billion people can continue to live and multiply without creating economic and ecological anihilation? Same sex marriage obviously will not contribute to this, and birth control would help delay the end of the world as we know it. Or are you one of those people looking forward to the end of the world as we know it?

                • Ted Seeber

                  “And the government should do something about this how?”

                  The government should stop supporting only one type of family, and in fact, bow out of the conversation completely. Failing that, we need the government to be about civil unions, not about marriage. Get the government out of my Church!

                  “It just seems to have gotten worse. For many it has gotten much better.”

                  It hasn’t gotten better for the children raised by single parents. It hasn’t gotten better for the fathers pushed out of being a father by draconian laws that prevent access if the mother is on welfare. It hasn’t gotten better for the homosexuals who are now just confirmed in an extremely dangerous lifestyle (even if you take STDs out of the picture, the common forms of sexuality for that group are dangerous). It certainly hasn’t gotten better for spouses convicted of domestic disturbance who aren’t allowed to work. Exactly who do you imagine life has gotten better for?

                  “Do you honestly believe that 7 billion people can continue to live and multiply without creating economic and ecological anihilation?”

                  Yes. The numbers prove it. If we were rational about our resource usage, we could easily support 80 billion on this planet. The problem isn’t numbers. The problem is irrational resource usage.

                  “Same sex marriage obviously will not contribute to this, and birth control would help delay the end of the world as we know it.”

                  Why would we want to delay the end of irrationality?

                  “Or are you one of those people looking forward to the end of the world as we know it?”

                  The end of the world as we know it happens 10,000 times a day in the United States. I’m all for the end of irrational luxury and the hyperinflationary practices that go along with it.

  • http://www.Devotions4Him.com Jennifer

    Thank you for the explanation. I have very strong feelings about this issue -Biblically based feelings I might add. However all I truly want to say is God help us, and please give the SCOTUS wisdom.

  • Dom

    I respect the Church’s authority but this is a civil issue. What confuses me regarding only a Biblical view is why did God allow polygomy in the Old Testament and Jesus parable of the 10 foolish virgins waiting for ONE bridegroom. It seems to me the ultimate decision civilly is with voters and the courts and the Church continues to define the Sacrament with Petrine Authority. Just my thoughts.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You are correct that the public controversy is about whether or not (and how) to change statutory law.

      As for the rest of your comment, a lot of people get confused by seeming contradictions between the behavior of people whose lives are discussed in the Bible. What they don’t understand is that these are a kind of biography of these people, warts and all. My understanding is that God raised up a people through whom His teaching and His son would be born into the world. He did this as He does many things, slowly and at the pace at which we could take it. He began with one man and his wife and build a nation. In the course of this, He also raised up a people out of a totally pagan and corrupt world and worked slowly through them to bring them into His teaching. It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen all at once. These folks were surrounding by an entire world that was pagan, so they fell into all sorts of corruptions. It took time to change their understanding. The Babylonian exile was a big break point. After that, they stopped falling into idol worship, child/human sacrifice and, (I’m not positive about the timing of this last, but I think it happened then) plural marriages. By the time Jesus was born, these things were no longer practiced by the Jews. They did not worship other gods, did not expose their children or sacrifice them on pagan altars and only married one man and one woman.

      People try to use the fact that the ancient Israelites fell into pagan practices to claim that God must somehow support and allow such pagan practices. I don’t think that’s an accurate understanding of Scripture.

  • Peg

    Bill, yes 7 billion and more can live on this planet and multiply and be sustained economically-these over population chicken little arguments are a myth-I’d love to see Rebecca post about those.

    Humans have not reached our carrying capacity on earth-the amount of food,water,shelter and space needed to sustain a population. We have more than enough of all of these but greed, power, and indifference have prevented far too many from having access to these basics.

    • Bill S

      “My Church, right or wrong!”

      The only reason you would make such an irresponsible statement is to defend the Church’s ridiculous ban on contraception. We do have to worry about overpopulation, now, not tomorrow.

  • Peg

    Bill. there was no mention of the church at all. Carrying capacity is a biological construct not a church teaching. I work around biologists every day of no to varying faith backgrounds. Climate change is a real threat, overpopulation is not.

    I think you are breathing so much fire toward the Catholic church that you cannot read or think straight at times. It’s not about disagreeing–it’s gone beyond to a hatred. I’m really sorry for whatever might have happened to you in the church but from so many of your comments, I think you are in a very dark and dangerous place. I truly wish you well.

  • Bill S

    Yes. I see your point. I have developed a resentment of the Church. I stopped posting for a while but got curious and checked out more stories and I found that I had even more to say than before.

    I feel that I and others have been misled by the Church and I feel the need to rebut its teachings especially those that affect politicians like Rebecca. I feel that the Church is interfering in American politics.

    Thank you for your concern. I appreciate it.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      Bill,
      If you are looking for sinners in the Church, you won’t have a hard time finding them. If you are looking for those who abuse positions of authority for their own personal gain, you won’t have a hard time finding them (in the Church or elsewhere.) If you are looking for those who try to cover up problems in their organization out of a misguided sense of protecting their institution, you won’t have a hard time finding them (again, in the Church, or elsewhere.)

      But if you are looking for saints who attain to the highest level of humanity, look to those who actually FOLLOW the Church’s teachings (ALL of them.) That’s why the Church exists, to give us that chance. Don’t judge the Church by those who use the Church for personal gain, or those who follow only the Church teachings they like (which means, essentially, they are following themselves.)

      Personally, regarding overpopulation, I do not take anyone seriously on this topic unless they are willing to volunteer to be euthanized as part of the solution to the problem.

      • Bill S

        Dave,

        Your point about the saints is well taken. But all of those others that you say I won’t have a hard time finding, how is that OK with you? Do the saints’ contributions to society outweigh the harm that the Church causes? In terms of this story, the harm is the intolerance for people of a different sexual persuasion. Why does the Pope urge his Bishops to urge the priests to urge the parishoners to do everything they can to deny others of their rights under the Constitution. Because that is what the Supreme Court will likely rule if they ever get around to it. Is the Church really in a position to find fault with the Supreme Court?

        • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

          I don’t believe that gay people have the right to marry under the Constitution. As far as I’m aware, the Constitution says nothing about marriage. As with everything else, the dominant group will impose their interpretation of the Constitution on everyone else, which usually means whatever political ball they want to advance.

          I haven’t had a chance to research this yet, but I’m 99% sure if one goes back and checks out why the gov’t created deductions and exemptions for marriage in general, it was because that group of people were undertaking the work of raising future citizens, not because that group of people liked to rub genitals and made some sort of promise of love to each other. The group of couples were providing the state a benefit, and the state wanted to compensate them for that. Now, we are being asked to support giving tax benefits for people who just like to rub genitals and make some sort of promise to love each other, which is not likely to last longer than a few years. Frankly, that seems ridiculous to me. But if people can’t see that, then I agree with Ted – get the government out of marriage until such time as sanity returns.

          It’s not “OK” with me that there are all of these types of people in the Church, but really, what is the alternative? We’re all more or less screwed up, and some of us are just a little more so. If you’re talking about drumming sexual offenders out of the clergy, well, sure, that’s a no-brainer. And sometimes those who abuse positions of authority are drummed out, but it’s never going to be perfect.

          Is the Church in a position to find fault with the Supreme Court? Depends. From a position of power, no, not at all. From a position of moral authority delegated from God, certainly.

          • Bill S

            That is a very anti-gay remark and qualifies as “hate-speech”. When you say something like that you give people the impression that you are a bigot. (That sounds so much better than the way I wanted to say it i.e., you are a bigot). There are gays who have made lifelong commitments to their partners and have kept them.

          • WFS

            “Now, we are being asked to support giving tax benefits for people who just like to rub genitals and make some sort of promise to love each other, which is not likely to last longer than a few years. Frankly, that seems ridiculous to me”

            That is a very anti-gay remark and qualifies as “hate-speech”. When you say something like that you give people the impression that you are a bigot. (That sounds so much better than the way I wanted to say it i.e., you are a bigot). There are gays who have made lifelong commitments to their partners and have kept them.


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