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Marriage Loses: US Supreme Court Holds Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, Dismisses Prop 8

By Deacon Keith Fournier
June 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.In addition to the ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court held that the parties who brought the Proposition 8 Case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, had no legal standing to be heard and therefore the Court had no jurisdiction.For  anyone who had any doubt, today's Supreme Court decision reaffirms that faithful Christians are living in an increasingly hostile secularist and Pre-Christian Nation. The potential for overt persecution has now been elevated. Be not Afraid! But also, do not be surprised at what lies ahead, pray and get ready.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.  The case was entitled United States v Windsor, Executor of the Estate of Spyer, et al. The full opinion can be found here.

The opinion is no surprise to most Court observers. It is also no surprise to those who have been watching the decline of a Nation which has lost its moral compass.

It was based upon the U.S.Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fifth Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.  In effect, the High Court held that the individual States have the power to regulate what constitutes a marriage.

Since New York recognized same sex relationships as a marriage the Federal Government had no authority to treat the lesbian couple in question any differently than a married man and women. Here are some excerpts:

"The question is whether the resulting in¬jury and indignity is a deprivation of an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment, since what New York treats as alike the federal law deems unlike by a law designed to injure the same class the State seeks to protect. New York's actions were a proper exercise of its sovereign authority. They reflect both the community's considered perspective on the historical roots of the institution of marriage and its evolving understanding of the meaning of equality. (Pp. 13-20)."

"By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles ap¬plicable to the Federal Government. (a) By history and tradition the definition and regulation of mar¬riage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States. Congress has enacted discrete statutes to regulate the meaning of marriage in order to further federal policy, but DOMA, with a directive applicable to over 1,000 federal statues and the whole realm of federal regulations, has a far greater reach. Its operation is also directed to a class of persons that the laws of New York, and of 11 other States, have sought to protect. Assessing the validity of that intervention requires discussing the historical and traditional extent of state power and authority over marriage.  (Pp. 13-26) "

Though it will be properly pointed out by commentators that the Windsor opinion does not manufacture a federal constitutional right to same sex marriage, the effect of the opinion shifts the landscape legally. It also puts the Christian Church in a very precarious situation.

The US Supreme Court took notice of the fact that the lesbian couple was married under New York Law and held that the Federal Government had no authority to disrespect that decision as it related to the imposition of the Federal Estate tax on the estate of the deceased lesbian partner.

The dissents simply questioned the power and role of the Court. They used a strict constructionist approach to jurisprudence. The limitations of that version of what is called 'conservatism' have never been more obvious and I sincerely hope Christian legal thinkers will get to work deveoping a much needed Natural Law Jurisprudence and stop simply parroting the conservative approach.

There was no consideration whatsoever of the existence of a Natural Moral Law which establishes and defines the nature of marriage -  which civil authority must recognize and respect to be legitimate. The result was not unlike past opinions in affirming that the positive or civil law is simply malleable and can be changed with the shifting sands of societal whimsy. 

The implications of this opinion are serious for anyone who knows that marriage is what it is - and simply cannot be redefined. Marriage as existing solely between one man and one woman was not an idea manufactured by the Christian Church. It precedes Christianity.

Though affirmed, fulfilled, and elevated by Christian teaching, the truth that marriage can exist only between one man and one woman is not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Moral Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason.

This claim of the existence of such a Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built. It is the source of every authentic human and civil rights movement. This Natural Moral Law gives us the norms we need to build truly human and humane societies and govern ourselves. It should also inform our positive law or we will become lawless and devolve into anarchy.

Marriage is the preeminent and the most fundamental of all human social institutions. Civil institutions do not create marriage nor can they manufacture a right to marry for those who are incapable of marriage. In the words of the first book of the Bible, we read: "it is not good for man to be alone." (Genesis 2:18) Society begins with marriage and the family.

The institutions of civil government should defend marriage and not undermine it. Government has long regulated marriage for the true common good. Examples, such as the age of consent, demonstrate such a proper regulation to ensure the free and voluntary basis of the marriage bond. Redefining the institution of marriage is improper and outside the authority of the State.

The US Supreme Court has now opened the door to the next step in a Cultural Revolution. This opinion leaves no room for any limitation on what can constitute such a redefined notion of marriage according to a State.

Conferring a moral and legal equivalency to same-sex couples by legislative and judicial fiat also sends the message that children do not need a mother and a father. It undermines their fundamental rights and threatens their security, stability, and future.

As Christian citizens, we should be rightly concerned that this decision puts us in an inevitable conflict with the growing power of the State. The Sacred Scriptures and unbroken teaching of the Church confirm that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Experience and history have shown us that if the civil government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State and compel the Church to participate or face consequences. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights.

This is not the first time in our over two thousand year history as a Christian Church that we have found ourselves in a culture which rejects the existence of the Natural Moral law. We will do what we always do, live our lives in fidelity to truth and seek to win the culture by our witness and example.However, for anyone who had any doubt, today's decision reaffirms that we are living in secularist and a Pre-Christian Nation. The potential for overt persecution has now been raised.

In addition to the ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court held that the parties who brought the Proposition 8 Case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, had no legal standing to be heard and therefore the Court had no jurisdiction. In effect, California will now proceed with its decision to call homosexual and lesbian partnerships a marriage.

For  anyone who had any doubt, today's Supreme Court decision reaffirms that faithful Christians are living in an increasingly hostile secularist and Pre-Christian Nation. The potential for overt persecution has now been elevated. Be not Afraid! But also, do not be surprised at what lies ahead, pray and get ready.  

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