Category archives: Marriage

Wedding Belle Blues

by Robert Morrison

July 17, 2014

My wife and I were invited to a nice wedding. The reception for this event in the South was a most elegant affair. I enjoyed sampling the new and different foods and drink. Moving around the historic outdoor location on the water, I enjoyed exchanging pleasantries with the genial crowd of well-wishers.

Until, that is, I was accosted. A beautiful lady whom we and our friends knew socially from our town made a beeline for me. She had asked others if I still worked for that group. I hadn’t seen “Petra” in the years since she moved away, but I greeted her warmly.

You’re losing, you know,” she said, referring to Family Research Council’s fight to preserve true marriage. Realizing that others may be watching and not wanting to create a scene, I simply smiled and said, “Well, Washington, Lincoln, and Churchill were all losing for a while.”

Petra was not amused. Unsmiling, she said, “It’s all about Marriage Equality.” Warming to the topic, I replied: “So you are okay with twin brothers who are gay marrying? Is that your idea of marriage equality, too?”

Why would they want to?” she said, not taking the bait.

But if they do want to, you would not have a legal objection to their marrying. They truly love each other and have had a continuing relationship since before they were born. So that’s good?”

Clearly, she thought I was playing the fool. She didn’t want to continue down the clear path to what would be my next point: If twin brothers may marry, why not a twin brother and sister? And how about three spouses?

Fanciful? Not really. Prof. Jonathan Turley of George Washington University Law Center has already pressed openly for polygamy. He rushed into federal court in Utah to have that state’s anti-polygamy law struck down—as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Windsor that the federal definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

I knew that the marriagenders don’t just want to expand or re-define marriage; they want to abolish it. In fact, they’ve said so in their manifesto, “Beyond Marriage.” You can read their plan to destroy marriage here.

Petra changed topics. “I suppose you think fetuses have property rights?” She wanted to drag me into the debate on personhood of the unborn. I replied: “The unborn child’s inheritance rights have been recognized in law for centuries.”

Then, I got inspired, especially considering these lovely surroundings and this glittering company:

Petra, you remember the scene in Downton Abbey where Lady Grantham is getting out of her tub?” (All liberals watch the great English soap opera, shown in the US on PBS.)

I continued: “Her maid, O’Brien, puts a bar of soap on the floor and the pregnant Lady Grantham falls. Her fall causes her to suffer a miscarriage. She might have been carrying the heir to the Downton Abbey estate. We are all meant to see this as a wrong and O’Brien as an evil woman for causing this death.”

Petra is not happy with this turn of the conversation as it heats up. She is beginning to get angry I can see—very angry.

Then it dawned on me: In her social set, she probably never had anyone disagree with her politically correct notions before. Thus, the fury.

They don’t need reasons; they only need rage.

Then, the ladies of our group—like an intrepid bomb disposal unit—intervene to take Petra away. They want to show her the fresh waffle cone making for the homemade ice cream.

Petra’s husband “Walt” takes me by the arm in a brotherly way. He is a fundraiser for a major college. His manner is of a practiced and soothing smoothness.

With hearty goodwill, he waves his arm and airily pronounces: “You know, this whole thing could be solved if we just got rid of marriage in the law and adopted civil unions. That’s the reasonable solution,” Walt pronounces.

I’m actually enjoying this back-and-forth. Agreeably as I can, I rejoin: “Except that the California Supreme Court used that state’s civil unions law as their pretext for overturning the marriage law that the people had voted on. They ruled that, since California gives all the same privileges and immunities to same-sex couples through civil unions, there is no rational basis to deny them marriage.”

Walt seems unfazed by this inconvenient truth. So what do I think about the view? And the weather? Both are superlative, I assure him. We drift apart.

An hour later, as my wife and I were preparing to go, I mentioned to our small knot of friends that I’d like to say goodbye to Petra and Walt and pay them my respects.

Someone in our group says Bob wants to “apologize.” I try not to be disagreeable or contentious in this amicable social setting. But, still smiling, I assure our friends I want to apologize for nothing. I will never apologize for standing for marriage.

And neither should anyone else.

Is Living Together the Same as Marriage? The Latest Research

by Peter Sprigg

July 3, 2014

A growing number of couples are living together in sexual relationships without bothering to marry. Are these relationships essentially the same as marriages? Research over the decades has shown significant differences in these two household forms, and the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics continues that trend.

Here, verbatim, are the “Key findings” in a new report, “Marriage, Cohabitation, and Men’s Use of Preventive Health Care Services.”

QUOTE

Key findings

Data from the National Health Interview Survey, 2011-2012

  • Among men aged 18–64, those who were married were more likely than cohabiting men and other not-married men to have had a health care visit in the past 12 months.
  • Marriage was associated with greater likelihood of a health care visit for both younger and older men, and for men with health insurance.
  • Among those for whom blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes screenings are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, married men were more likely than cohabiting men to have received these clinical preventive services in the past 12 months.
  • Cohabiting men were less likely than other not-married men to have had a health care visit, cholesterol check, or diabetes screening.

END QUOTE

The take-away? Men, the next time your wives nag you to go to the doctor — be thankful!

The Tenth Circuit’s Kitchen v. Herbert Flubs Fundamental Rights Analysis

by Chris Gacek

June 26, 2014

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a federal district court’s decision striking down the definition of marriage found in Utah’s constitution. That definition limited Utah marriages to the union of one man and one woman. It was approved by referendum in November 2004 with 65.9% of the vote. In Kitchen v. Herbert, a 2-1 majority court struck down that definition by concluding, among other things, that there is a fundamental right to enter into a same-sex marriage. There is much more to the decision, but this note will focus on this key aspect of opinion.

As the U.S. Supreme Court instructed in Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997), the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees more than fair process. It “also provides heightened scrutiny against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests.” Id. at 720. But, how does one determine what rights and interests are “fundamental?” Glucksberg is the key case in setting forth the constitutional law in this area.

Paul Linton summarized the Glucksberg standard in the Family Research Council’s amicus brief in Kitchen (pp. 3-5) (edits to text, notes, and citations have been made below):

In determining whether an asserted liberty interest (or right) should be regarded as fundamental for purposes of substantive due process analysis under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment[] (infringement of which would call for strict scrutiny review), the Supreme Court applies a two-prong test. First, there must be a “careful description” of the asserted fundamental liberty interest. Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 721 (1997). Second, the interest, so described, must be firmly rooted in “the Nation’s history, legal traditions, and practices.” Id. at 710. ….

As in other cases asserting fundamental liberty interests, it is necessary to provide a “careful description” of the fundamental liberty interest at stake. For purposes of substantive due process analysis, therefore, the issue here is not who may marry, but what marriage is. The principal defining characteristic of marriage, as it has been understood in our “history, legal traditions, and practices,” is the union of a man and a woman. Properly framed, therefore, the issue before this Court is not whether there is a fundamental right to enter into a marriage with the person of one’s choice, but whether there is a right to enter into a same-sex marriage. ….

This is the point at which the majority opinion runs off the rails. It dodges the hard edge of Glucksberg requiring a tight, accurate definition of the claimed right. The Kitchen court goes in another direction asserting baldly (p. 35), “But we cannot conclude that the fundamental liberty interest in this case is limited to the right to marry a person of the opposite sex.” They cannot do so because they will not to do so.

Of course, there is a fundamental right to marry a person of the opposite sex. See Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1, 87 S. Ct. 1817 (1967). And, homosexuals are not precluded from marrying in any state. But, what is this national debate about? It is about the definition of marriage. Homosexual men and women assert that the laws of over thirty states should be nullified because, among other things, there is a fundamental right to marry members of the same sex. Furthermore, all states must be compelled to recognize male-male and female-female marriages.

Returning to the Glucksberg test it is manifestly clear that there is no such fundamental right, for it must be deeply embedded in “the Nation’s history, legal traditions, and practices.” How can this be possible with the claimed fundamental right to same-sex marriage? There is nothing about it that is firmly grounded in this country’s history, legal tradition, and practices. There were no same-sex marriages anywhere in the United States until the 21st Century.

Google is older than same-sex marriage.

There is a Supreme Court case that is instructive here, and it is Baker v. Nelson, 409 U.S. 810 (1972). Much blood in the same-sex marriage debate has been spilled over this case. In Baker, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal from a decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court which had rejected arguments for same-sex marriage similar to those being considered presently in our courts. Baker v. Nelson, 291 Minn. 310, 191 N.W.2d 185 (1971).

The U.S. Supreme Court declined the invitation to consider the matter stating that there was a “want of a federal question.” It has been argued that Baker precludes lower federal courts from even considering these issues, but federal courts have brushed aside those arguments, especially in the post-Windsor environment. It should be noted that the dissenting judge in Kitchen did accept this argument. Judge Kelly would have dismissed the case and left it for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it wanted to revisit this area of the law. That seems like the correct approach.

Laying aside the argument that Baker requires a dismissal by lower courts, Baker is highly instructive in answering whether any claimed right to same-sex marriage is “fundamental.”

In 1972, the fundamental right argument was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it was rejected – as it had been in Minnesota. Because Glucksberg tells us that fundamental rights must be rooted in our nation’s legal history and traditions, such a right should have been extant only forty-two years ago when the Supreme Court considered the Baker appeal. Fundamental right questions are dyadic – you either have one, a 0, or not, a 1. Baker gives us the Supreme Court’s answer in 1972: 0. Both courts had the constitutional issues presented in a manner we would recognize today. The Minnesota Supreme Court quoted Loving noting “there is a clear distinction between a marital restriction based merely upon race and one based upon the fundamental difference in sex.” Baker, 291 Minn. at 315 (concluding the court’s equal protection analysis and discussing Loving).

Thus, the Baker Court had the core legal concepts and precedents before it that we now routinely see in same-sex marriage litigation (e.g., fundamental rights claim, arguments based on Loving), and it dismissed the appeal.

Of course, there are equal protection arguments to also consider, but one must reasonably conclude that the Kitchen majority’s fundamental rights analysis fails badly. This point is underscored by footnote 4 of the FRC amicus brief in Kitchen which provides a lengthy list of courts that have rejected the argument that any fundamental rights (Due Process) analysis supports the claims of the Utah plaintiffs challenging the state’s natural marriage definition.

Three Reasons Why It Is Wrong to Assume the Supreme Court Will Redefine Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

June 25, 2014

Two more federal courts have now ruled that the natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the U.S. Constitution—a District Court in Indiana, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in a case out of Utah.

There is a growing consensus among the liberal elites that it is “inevitable” that the U. S. Supreme Court will eventually declare a constitutional “right” to marry someone of the same sex. Here are three quick reasons to believe they are wrong:

1) The Court was already asked to declare such a right last year—and it refused. The supposed legal superstars Ted Olson and David Boies teamed up to challenge California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court—but that case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, ended with a whimper instead of a bang. The Court issued a narrow technical ruling that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to defend it in Court in place of state officials, who refused to do so. This ruling had the end result of allowing same-sex “marriages” to resume in California, but it established no precedent at all.

If it were clear to a majority of the Court that the U.S. Constitution requires states to allow same-sex “marriages,” it would have been easy enough to declare as much last year. The fact that they did not may indicate at least some reluctance to do so.

2) In the case of U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court did strike down the federal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, that decision was based largely on DOMA’s deviation from the tradition of the federal government deferring to state definitions of marriage. That same tradition would suggest that the Court should allow states to continue defining marriage as they choose.

3) When the current flurry of federal court decisions redefining marriage began last year, several of the lower courts involved refused to even issue a stay of their ruling pending appeal. However, the Supreme Court did issue such stays—suggesting that they are not in nearly so much of a rush to get same-sex couples to the altar or the justice of the peace as other judges are.

I’m not making bets or even predictions as to what the Supreme Court will do if and when one of these new cases reaches them. The court has issued bad, unjustified, unprecedented decisions before. I am just pointing out that there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the Court is not eager to overturn the very constitutions of a majority of these United States.

Churches in Denmark Forced to Perform Same-Sex “Marriages”

by Travis Weber

June 12, 2014

Just when we think things are getting bad here in the United States, we observe the Danish Parliament passing a law requiring all churches to perform same-sex “marriages.” Although with this development, religious liberty is almost non-existent in Denmark, individual ministers can still opt out of performing the wedding. In that case, the church must find another minister to perform the required duties. This is no small consolation, however, for such a law in one blow nullifies any freedom of an organization or church to define itself according to its own religious values.

Some Danes are holding strong, though:

Marriage is as old as man himself, and you can’t change something as fundamental,” … church spokesperson Christian Langballe said … . “Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman.”

In support of the law, one prominent businessman said “[w]e have felt a little like we were living in the Middle Ages… . I think it is positive that there is now a majority for [the law], and that there are so many priests and bishops who are in favour of it, and that the Danish population supports up about it [sic]. We have moved forward. It’s 2012.”

Notice the appeal to the idea of “majority support.” This is the very type of tyranny the Bill of Rights in the United States is meant to protect against.

While such a law would never survive a constitutional challenge in the United States, it still serves as a sober warning of forces seeking to attack a biblical worldview.

FRC Files Amicus Brief in Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Case

by Chris Gacek

May 15, 2014

There seem to be more legal challenges to state laws proclaiming natural marriage than there are stars in the sky. One of these, DeBoer v. Snyder, arises out of Michigan. In DeBoer, a federal district court declared Michigan’s natural marriage definition to be unconstitutional.  The decision was appealed by Michigan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and the Family Research Council has filed a friend of the court brief in this appeal.  The brief was written by Paul Linton, a highly regarded constitutional appellate attorney, who submitted the brief on FRC’s behalf last week on May 9th.

The amicus brief focuses on two general arguments.  First, it maintains that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not create a fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex. Second, Michigan’s definition of marriage is reasonably related several legitimate state interests, most notably, its promotion of responsible procreation. Thus, Michigan marriage law satisfies the “rational-basis” review required by constitutional equal protection analysis.  For these reasons, the district court’s decision should be reversed.

Free from moral authority?

by Travis Weber

April 25, 2014

In a recent blog post explaining his refusal to support a statement pertaining to free expression and political positions on marriage, Professor Ilya Somin claims there’s a limit to the rule that people should be free from stigmatization for holding certain views. His own view is that people should not be stigmatized for opposing same-sex marriage, but should be for supporting the KKK:

Indeed, there has never been a society, no matter how liberal, that did not regard at least some ideas as “beyond the pale.”

… .

In an ideal world where everyone carefully weighs opposing arguments strictly on the basis of logic and evidence, stigmatization would be both ineffective and unnecessary. In the real world, unfortunately, it can be a necessary evil, albeit only in extreme cases.”

In so holding, Professor Somin is making a moral judgment. But what is it based on? I’m not opposing his rule here, but only pointing out that it begs the question: to what moral code or ethical authority does he look in determining what views should and should not be stigmatized?

Setting the World On Fire” — Ben and Grace’s Holy Matrimony

by Robert Morrison

April 23, 2014

I was struck by a line in Scripture this past week that I had never noticed before. It occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prays and sweats blood: “Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56). All? Yes, all. And that desertion happened among the men Jesus had personally selected as His followers. He who knows all about each one of us chose men who would desert Him when put to the test? We all know what happened after that mass desertion. Those fearful, fleeing men stopped, turned, and seeing their Risen Savior, one of them even said: “My Lord and My God!”

And then came Pentecost. Those men changed. From being fearful and cringing, they changed into bold and undaunted. They proclaimed the truth even when it cost them their lives.

We’ve seen too much hand-wringing during this past Lenten season in the U.S.; all the white flags are fluttering, and the idea that marriage is over in America and perhaps the world is taking hold among the chattering classes. It’s inevitable, they say. How can we “finesse” this issue so we can get about the business of politics — which is all about money, after all.

And this loss of confidence and nerve is spreading in little waves like a stone thrown in a pond — even to some timorous souls in the Church. There are some Christian writers and thinkers who are saying, in effect, we have to appeal to the winners to let us be Amish.

Well, they won’t let us be Amish. They are in this for all or nothing. No opposition to marriagending will be tolerated. If you ever opposed them overturning marriage, you will be hounded, harried, and harassed.

So nothing will suffice than for us to stop this headlong flight, turn and face eternal truths, and stand fast.

That’s why my wife and I drove twelve hundred miles over Easter weekend to celebrate a wedding, a true marriage of young Christian friends. We drove deep into the South to witness this great event.

My wife and I remembered the words of the Bishop of London at the Royal Wedding several years ago. He quoted St. Catherine of Siena, saying to the young couple: “Be who God intended you to be and you will set the world on fire.” We wanted to be there to see Ben and Grace set the world on fire.

Because Ben is a young officer in the military, the only time he could get leave was during Easter. And because of that, it was hard to find a church where their ceremony could be held. But if this young couple could not go to the church, the Church could come to them. Wherever two or three are gathered in His Name, Jesus is among us. So they chose a site in a tall building overlooking a lazy, winding river in a beautiful and historic Southern town.

The music provided was appropriate. We entered to the trumpet strains of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” That great Reformation hymn never fails to inspire. As we are seated, Martin Luther’s verse comes to mind:

Though devils all the world should fill,

All eager to devour us,

We tremble not, we fear no ill,

They shall not overpowr us.

The assembly hall is filled with family and friends, well-wishers all. A cloud of witnesses has descended on this scene. The members of the wedding party take their places. The young groom stands tall in his dress uniform. He has six groomsmen standing by. The bride is preceded by her six bridesmaids. The flower girl is the seven-year old sister of the bride. She has been adopted from China. The ring bearer is the four-year old nephew of the groom. “Taylor” has been named for a great Christian missionary to China.

I was honored to read from the Scriptures. From Genesis, I read:

Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

I looked quickly to my right as I read these words. The lovely bride and her six bridesmaids were all arrayed there. To my left stood the towering young groom and his six groomsmen. Male and female, each had taken his place. The ceremony follows Nature. The ceremony affirms Nature. The ceremony celebrates Nature.

We have all been accused of lacking compassion, failing to love our neighbors as ourselves. They routinely picture us as holding tightly onto this red balloon called marriage that we do not want to share.

But we do want to share it. We want to offer true marriage as a powerful response to grievous social problems of poverty, educational deficit, and ill health. We who visit those in prison know we are there surrounded by fatherless young men. We have compassion for them. The divorced and abandoned women of today are Scripture’s needful widows. Marriage can be a blessing to those in the Church, to be sure, but it even blesses those outside the Church. Marriage bashes no one.

In order for us to share the blessing that is marriage, there must yet be marriage. Those who demand an end to marriage as we have known it do not want to share that red balloon. They want to burst it.

There is no rancor, no malice in our defending marriage. We have been given this priceless gift and we want only to pass it on unbroken and unadulterated to today’s young people. There is no thought of hatred in this. Instead, I have been given this Scripture to read from 1 John:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Ben and Grace exchange their vows. The groom’s father, a pastor, performs his duty with sureness. Both bride and groom speak clearly and strongly, yet even so their voices crack with the overpowering emotion of the moment. They deeply appreciate this poignant moment they have waited for all their lives. They know what it means to become one flesh in the Lord.

Ben and Grace exchange their rings. Each one knows these rings they will wear until death parts them. Each one knows that these rings are the sign and symbol of their love. They know that marriage has a certain ring to it.

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