Gay Marriage is Now a Constitutional Right in the United States. What’s Next?
By Rick Brinegar
On Friday, June 26, 2015 in a 5 to 4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed LGBT Americans’ “constitutional” right to wed. By prohibiting states from refusing to recognize the legitimacy of marriages between people of the same sex, five justices have dared to redefine and challenge the historic, religious, moral and traditional definition of marriage, that is, the union between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court decision to re-invent an ancient institution will have a global impact and unforeseen consequences. Major conflicts over religious liberty have already begun.
The most immediate impact of the marriage equality ruling may be direct challenges by gay rights activists against conservative Christians. Employees and business owners who refuse to celebrate same-sex marriage will soon be sued, fired, threatened, boycotted, singled out for IRS auditing and censored. In a recent, highly publicized case, Aaron and Melissa Klein, bakers who declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, have been ordered by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to pay $135,000 “in damages for emotional and mental suffering.” They have been threatened with a lien on their home if they refuse to pay the award to the lesbian couple that sued them. A similar thing happened to a New Mexico photographer, Elaine Huguenin, who declined to photograph the wedding of a lesbian couple. American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, Louise Melling, told the New York Times that, “Although it was a difficult case, the equal treatment of same-sex couples is more important than the photographer’s business.” Soon, many more Christians in business will have to decide between compromising convictions and going out of business.
Same-Sex Adoption Rights
The Supreme Court ruling was historic in that it attempts to reshape the definition of the American family. According to the New York Times, this decision means that “gay couples [will] for the first time be able to widely adopt children regardless of which state they live in.” Some states have already modified marriage licenses to accommodate same-sex couples. The next step would be a push for gender-neutral birth certificates for adoptees. State Representative Rafael Anchia of Dallas has said, “Now that marriage is allowed for same-sex couples in Texas, they should enjoy the full canopy of rights and those rights include parentage and parentage is evidenced, especially in the adoption context, in the birth certificate.” Michigan just passed a law that allows adoption agencies to refuse to provide services to any prospective parents if placing a child with those parents would violate the organization’s “sincerely held religious beliefs.” However, the law also requires the declining agency to refer the prospective parents to another agency that will work with the couple.
Tax Exempt Status Jeopardized
The federal revenue acts of 1909, 1913, and 1917 gave tax-free status to the income of, and to the income donated to nonprofits. Most churches in America have organized as “501c3 tax-exempt religious organizations” under a provision added to the tax code in 1954. A 501c3 church may jeopardize its tax-exempt status by openly speaking out, or organizing in opposition to anything that the government declares “legal”, even if it is immoral. Opposition to the principle of gay-marriage rights will lead to a reexamination of the tax exemption of conservative religious institutions. The Supreme Court ruled in 1983, in a Bob Jones University Case, that a school could lose tax-exempt status if its policies violated “fundamental national public policy.” It would seem that marriage equality is now a “fundamental national public policy.” Senator Mike Lee of Utah is so concerned about this issue that he has introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which ensures that religious institutions won’t lose their tax exemptions if they don’t support same-sex marriage.
Assault on Religious Liberty
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal believes that the ruling will result in an “all-out assault” against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. “The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution,” he said. “Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton believes that the same-sex marriage issue has become a “personal and economic aggression” against those who value faith and hold strong religious values.
Must Pastors Perform and Recognize Gay Marriages?
Pastors, church leaders and judges will face decisions about whether they will perform and recognize gay marriages. North Carolina passed a law in June which allows judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses altogether if they object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. According to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, this law may only be the beginning. “In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well,” Thomas wrote in a dissenting opinion. “It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.”
State Forbids Pastors Calling Homosexuality ‘Sinful’
Volunteers with the prison ministry of Pleasant View Baptist Church in McQuady, Kentucky, cannot refer to homosexuality or other alternative sexual lifestyles as “sinful”. Christian minister, David Wells, was terminated from the program when he refused to sign a state-mandated statement that homosexuality was not “sinful”.
A Civil Rights Issue?
As LGBT activists come after social conservatives, the Supreme Court ruling establishes that homosexuality should be protected the same way that racial minorities should be protected from discrimination. The Court’s majority opinion compares those who hold traditional marriage views with those who denied African-Americans and women equal treatment. People who hold traditional beliefs about marriage have now become the bad guys.
Christians – Exiles in Their Own Country
According to Rod Dreher, writing in Time magazine, there is a new reality, which we have to accept, that we are living in a culturally post-Christian nation. He sees this Supreme Court ruling as a view widely shared by “a majority of Americans.” In other words, to him, marriage equality is the “new normal”. The majority opinion of the Supreme Court leaves religious traditionalist vulnerable. Justice Samuel Alito warns that the decision “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” and will be used to oppress the faithful “by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
Christian Colleges and Universities Challenged
On March 17, 2015, Gordon College announced that it is maintaining its ban on any sexual relationship outside of heterosexual marriage after it was challenged by the New England Associations of Schools and Colleges to review how its policies affect gay students. There will no doubt be similar cases to come with new questions on how the Supreme Court marriage equality decision affects college policies.
Christian “Hate Speech”
Senator Marco Rubio has observed that, “…If you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” and that the next step of that strategy is “to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity” constitute “hate speech”.
Some people interpret the marriage equality ruling as a sign that it is time to push for polygamy. Chief Justice Roberts addresses this in his minority opinion, saying, “Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective ‘two’ in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.”
And Then Pedophilia?
As a result of the decision, the stage is set for sexual identity and activity rights to supersede religious rights. Dostoevsky said, “If there is no God, all things are permissible. If all things are permissible, there is no right and wrong.” We have seen marriage equality activists’ signs and t-shirts reading, “Marry who you love.” In practical terms, the same-sex ruling of the Supreme Court has indeed reduced the standard for marriage to “marry who you love.” Pedophilia has now been removed as a mental disorder in the current Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM)-5 published by the American Psychiatric Association. NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association, works to abolish age of consent laws criminalizing adult sexual involvement with minors. They also campaign for the release of all men who have been jailed for sexual contact with minors. Formerly aberrant disorders will become legitimatized as pedophiles and other deviants, encouraged by same-sex marriage victories, organize for their rights.
According to Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D., Fellow at conservative Heritage Foundation and Editor of Public Discourse, traditional marriage is “society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children.” “By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence,” he says,”—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role.”
Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals, has said, “The U.S. decision will have a big impact in other countries.” He added that his organization has contributed documentation to U.S. legal groups arguing the case before the Supreme Court. “Sometimes U.S. influence is negative,” he continued, “but we believe in this case it will be positive and accelerate the process of approving gay marriage in other parts of the world.”
According to Pew Research, twenty-one countries now allow same-sex marriage. Mexico permits it in some states, with many other countries offering various legal rights that fall short of marriage to same-sex couples. Well-organized advocacy groups continue to lobby for full marriage rights for homosexuals in most of those countries.
Normalizing Corrupt Values
The value system of America is changing rapidly, and the impact is far-reaching. This goal of gay activism is not only acceptance, but also affirmation and celebration of homosexual behavior as normal, natural, healthy and desirable. The sexual revolution has attempted to validate a liberty of sexual identity and activity, which the framers of the Constitution never sanctioned. They did not believe that they were creating rights, but rather that they were acknowledging rights given to all humanity by “nature and nature’s God.” The concept of freedom of sexual identity and activity did not even exist when the Constitution was written. But now, liberal churches see themselves as defenders of a new moral regime that actually restricts the religious liberty rights of traditional Bible believers, diluting protections that are explicit in the Constitution. We seem to have bypassed the need for God’s standards or any lessons from history. What’s next? The authorization of anything the human heart wishes to normalize is next.
Fire Rained Down
The Bible says in the book of Judges that every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). They may have wanted to do right, but they decided for themselves what was right. The gay community has decided for themselves that homosexuality is right. The United States Supreme Court has decided for themselves that homosexual marriage is right. The residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were also living according to their own convictions when judgment fell.
“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17: 28-29)
Rather than panic or despair when we see the homosexual movement advancing, we can know that none of it is a surprise to God, that God is still sovereign and in control. Bible prophecy teaches that mankind will continue to become, on the whole, increasingly reprobate until Jesus returns. To survive effectively, real Christians must defend real marriage. We should also recognize that the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling is not an application or interpretation of the Constitution, but that it is instead judicial activism. We must protect our freedom to live according to the truth about marriage. This is only the beginning of the struggle that convictional Christians will face as our conscience, conduct and belief rights are challenged.