The oral arguments have finished at the SupremeCourt regarding the freedom of states to determine their own marriage laws, in a case that is one of the most important in our lifetime. Here’s some of the media responses to this day in court with quotes and links to give a sense of the climate.
“Many questions on Tuesday centered around the definition of marriage and whether the decision to authorize or ban gay marriage should be left to voters in individual states or decided by the judicial system.
“All eyes were on Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered a key vote for challengers to the state bans, who has penned three decisions in favor of gay rights over the years.
“At the start of arguments he joined other conservatives concerned with the fact that marriage has been defined between a man and a woman for a long time. ‘This definition has been with us for millennia,’ he said. ‘And it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well,–we know better. ‘
“But later Kennedy pressed John Bursch, a lawyer defending the bans. ‘Same sex couples say, of course, we understand the nobility and the sacredness of the marriage. We know we can’t procreate, but we want the other attributes of it in order to show that we, too, have a dignity that can be fulfilled.’
Ryan T. Anderson’s Instant Analysis of Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Case
“Religious institutions could be at risk of losing their tax-exempt status due to their beliefs about marriage if the Supreme Court holds that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed, President Obama’s attorney acknowledged to the Supreme Court today.
“It’s certainly going to be an issue,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli replied when Justice Samuel Alito asked if schools that support the traditional definition of marriage would have to be treated like schools that once opposed interracial marriage. “I don’t deny that.”
“An older view of marriage has steadily been losing ground to a newer one, and that process began long before the debate over same-sex couples. On the older understanding, society and, to a lesser extent, the government needed to shape sexual behavior—specifically, the type of sexual behavior that often gives rise to children—to promote the well-being of those children. On the newer understanding, marriage is primarily an emotional union of adults with an incidental connection to procreation and children.
“We think the older view is not only unbigoted, but rationally superior to the newer one. Supporters of the older view have often said that it offers a sure ground for resisting polygamy while the newer one does not. But perhaps the more telling point is that the newer view does not offer any strong rationale for having a social institution of marriage in the first place, let alone a government-backed one.
“What ought to matter for the Court, though, is that the Constitution neither commands states to adopt one of these understandings nor forbids them to do it.
Over 150 amicus briefs were turned into the Supreme Court and here’s a sample of how the arguments look supporting man-woman marriage laws. We’ll list four of them here and the others are available at the link.
- “More than50 million Americans voted to retain the man-woman definition of marriage—61 percent of those who voted on the issue. The Supreme Court should not disregard their votes. Removing important and sensitive issues like marriage policy from democratic deliberationwould weaken our system of self-government.
- “Marriage as the union of a man and a woman long predates our nation. That recognition has not been solely motivated by moral values. It is supported by long-acceptedsecular reasons tied to human biology, procreation and the needs of children.
- “Laws recognizing marriage as the union of a man and a woman arenot like laws that outlawed interracial marriages. A couple’s gender diversity has always been a fundamental, defining characteristic of marriage. By contrast, laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unrelated to the definition of marriage and therefore wrong.
- “Man-woman marriage lawsdo not infringe the liberty of gay and lesbian Americans since they are free to engage in intimate relations and start a family with whomever they want without fear of civil or criminal sanctions. Man-woman marriage laws also allow gays and lesbians to marry someone of the opposite gender and rear a family together, as many have done.
Here’s a position different than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took when same-sex marriage came to Utah.
“’We will not obey.’”
“’That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage.
“’We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,” read a document titled, Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage. “’We stand united together in defense of marriage. Make no mistake about our resolve.”
“While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross,” the pledge states.