Reactions to the Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision
A roundup of reactions from various sources, local, state, and national:
…Just as Roe v. Wade did not settle the question of abortion over forty years ago, Obergefell v. Hodges does not settle the question of marriage today. Neither decision is rooted in the truth, and as a result, both will eventually fail. Today the Court is wrong again. It is profoundly immoral and unjust for the government to declare that two people of the same sex can constitute a marriage…
Every nation has laws limiting who can be married and under what circumstances. This is because lawmakers always have understood that marriage does not exist just for the mutual satisfaction of the two people involved, but for the betterment of society. Traditional marriage is the cradle of the family, the basic building block of society. As Pope Francis has reminded us, every child has a right to be raised by two parents, a father and a mother. Both parents are important, and they are not interchangeable. The sad reality that so many children are deprived of this right because of the crisis in traditional marriage does not make it any less important. It is deeply disappointing and worrisome that our courts do not understand this.
The Catholic Church remains steadfast in its commitment to promote and defend marriage: defined as the union of one man and one woman. With renewed hope, sensitivity, and compassion, the Church will continue to attend to the challenges and hardships that confront individuals and their families, and to treat all persons with the dignity and respect due to them as children of God.
Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schunrr
Under the false banner of ‘marriage equality,’ the United State Supreme Court today redefined marriage by judicial fiat. In so doing, it has disregarded not only the clearly expressed will of the electorate in Ohio and other states, but also an understanding of marriage that was shared by virtually all cultures – secular as well as religious – until recently…
Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin, CSSP
The Supreme Court of the United States of America published a decision on June 26, 2015 to redefine marriage in a fundamental way. This decision does not change the truth that is older than states and courts. The Catholic Church, along with other faith traditions, teaches that marriage is a natural institution established by God to be a permanent union between one man and one woman, intended towards the formation of a family in which children are born and nurtured.
The ruling is not surprising in light of the number of states in which courts have recognized same-sex marriage as well as rapidly changing attitudes in American popular culture regarding the nature of marriage. The Catholic community has long recognized values that distinguish its understanding of marriage from the legal definition. Those differences have become more acute.
So where do we go from here?
The Catholic Church will continue to teach and preach the truth that marriage is a union of one man and one woman and encourage all people of good will to embrace the fullness of that truth. We will work to promote and strengthen marriage and families. We will strive to uphold the dignity of every human person, including persons who experience same-sex attraction, welcoming them as our brothers and sisters.
The decision of the Supreme Court is an invitation to Catholics to proclaim the Gospel that sets all people free. I pray the Supreme Court’s decision will be an invitation for all people of good will to discuss respectfully what divides us and seek the common good of all, especially of families. I ask that those who disagree with the teachings of our Church may recognize our God-given freedom to live according to our faith and our consciences.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on marriage is not a surprise. The surprise will come as ordinary people begin to experience, firsthand and painfully, the impact of today’s action on everything they thought they knew about marriage, family life, our laws and our social institutions. The mistakes of the court change nothing about the nature of men and women, and the truth of God’s Word. The task now for believers is to form our own families even more deeply in the love of God, and to rebuild a healthy marriage culture, one marriage at a time, from the debris of today’s decision.
In the midst of present day moral confusion and the cultural attack on the Christian way of life in the United States and around the world, there is a real temptation to discouragement and even despair. As the news continues to report the “victory lap” that is being taken by those who offer a different way of understanding marriage and sexuality, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal find great hope in the powerful presence of God at work in the countless couples, families, and individuals who are heroically faithful to the Gospel and the truth of marriage and sexuality according to God’s design. We also find great hope in those individuals who experience same sex attraction and have made the free, heroic and self-sacrificing choice to live the virtue of chastity in a culture where the alternative is in fact much easier and socially celebrated.
There are many questions being asked about the way forward for the Church as she faces the stark reality of these present day challenges and trials. As we have heard echoed over the past few days from the Bishops in the United States and from those who speak in fidelity with the Church and her teaching, Christ is the answer. Jesus who is the Truth (John 14:6) is our refuge, strength, consolation, and way forward. His Grace abounds in the midst of temptation, confusion, and darkness. His love is our response, the powerful statement that must be made to those who agree with the Church and also for those who disagree. In a time where a misguided compassion seems to dictate that true love and true religion not only should accept the sinner but also the sin, we with great respect and humility, boldly call for a renewed courageous witness among all Catholics, Christians and people of good will. This witness, modeled by Jesus, doesn’t tire of loving and showing genuine compassion to our brothers and sisters who experience same sex attraction and who are caught up in the challenges and difficulties of the current cultural crisis. However, at the same time we urge an ever more courageous proclamation of the truth of marriage and God’s beautiful plan for human sexuality.
Mark Brumley, President/CEO, Ignatius Press
Today, the Supreme Court once again dishonored my marriage. It said that procreative kinds of unions are deserving of no special honor. That they contribute nothing to society that ought to be specially acknowledged by a social institution. That the relationship of my wife and me with our children and their relationship with us, which arose naturally as a result of our being their parents, deserves no distinctive social recognition or encouragement. And this all in the name of the U.S. Constitution.
SCOTUS implies that there is nothing especially to be socially valued or honored about the sexual union of a man and a woman, even though this is the way human beings come to exist through mutual acts of love.
We’re otherwise told that human beings are special, that they have inalienable rights, that they ought to be helped to realize their potential. Etc, etc, etc. But yet there is nothing specially to be honored about the kind of union human beings come to exist? The social institution formed around such a sexual union and contributes nothing worthy of distinctive recognition?
Instead, I am compelled by law to treat other kinds of unions, unions that are largely a matter of the private interests of the parties who choose to enter into them, as if they make the same socially honorable contribution as my marriage, just because the privately interested persons in those unions insist on it. That is a grave injustice to me and to all truly married couples.
Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR, President, Franciscan University of Steubenville:
Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has set aside millennia of human wisdom and ruled that civil marriage now includes the union of two men or two women (and who knows what future combinations), Franciscan University holds to the hallowed and unchanging teachings of the Catholic Church, which recognizes marriage as the unique, fruitful, lifelong union between a man and a woman, blessed through the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
We can’t ignore the biological fact that children come from the union of a man and a woman, and marriage between a man and a woman has been the building block of both Christian and non-Christian societies for centuries. Maintaining this definition of marriage and affording it special rights and privileges enables society to flourish and respect God’s mandate to be fruitful and multiply.
The Catholic bishops of the United States have spoken eloquently and with firm leadership on this issue, and Franciscan University will continue to stand with them in defense of the true meaning of marriage/We also will pray for those who disagree with us and ask them to pray with us, that we may engage each other in charity and sincerity on this incredibly important and sensitive issue.
Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, In the Light of the Law
First, we need to recall that the State has long recognized as married some persons who are not married, namely, when the State allows divorced persons simply to remarry. We have lived with persons in pseudo-marriage for many decades; so now the pool of such people is larger. The pastoral challenges in consequence of this latest decision are greater as will be the sacrifices needed to meet them. But so far—and this is a key point—State power has not been applied to try to force Churches or their faithful to treat as married those who, by doctrine or discipline, are not married. This brings me to my next point.
Second, Catholic doctrine and discipline can never, ever, recognize as married two persons of the same sex, and any Catholic who regards “same-sex marriage” as marriage is, beyond question, “opposed to the doctrine of the Church” (Canon 750 § 2). I am sorry so many Catholics apparently think otherwise and I recognize that many who think that Church teaching on marriage can and should change, do so in good faith. But they are still wrong and their error leads them, among other things, to underestimate how non-negotiable is the Church’s opposition to the recognition of same-sex unions as marriage. The Church (and for that matter our nation) will have great need of Catholics who understand and accept the teaching of Christ and his Church on marriage if the damage done by the Supreme Court today is ever to be repaired. Appreciating the infallible character of this teaching on marriage is the first step.
As for whether we succeed in righting this wrong, that’s not our concern. The question we will be asked at Judgment will be, Did we try?
Dr. Jennifer Jennifer Roback Morse, President, The Ruth Institute
The Ruth Institute opposes the short-sighted decision of the US Supreme Court mandating that every State remove the gender requirement from their marriage laws. This decision undermines the natural right of every child to know the identity of their own parents, and as far as possible, to be in a relationship with and to be raised by both their mother and their father.
President Obama asserted today that “we are a people who believe that every single child is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This ruling in fact deprives children of their most basic birthright: the right to know and be loved by their own parents. No amount of legal mumbo-jumbo or cultural happy-talk can fully compensate for this fundamental structural injustice.
The Obergefell decision tacitly declares that invented rights of adults take precedence over natural rights of children. The policy of the United States government will henceforth be to take sides with “intended parents” in disputes with natural parents, and against the legitimate interests of children to their own genetic and cultural heritage. The Supreme Court has surreptitiously redefined parenthood as a side effect of redefining marriage. Today’s ruling shamefully robs children of “equal protection under the law.”
Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage:
Though expected, today’s decision is completely illegitimate. We reject it and so will the American people. It represents nothing but judicial activism, legislating from the bench, with a bare majority of the Justices on the Supreme Court exercising raw political power to impose their own preferences on marriage when they have no constitutional authority to do so. It is a lawless ruling that contravenes the decisions of over 50 million voters and their elected representatives. It is a decision that is reminiscent of other illegitimate Court rulings such as Dred Scott and Roe v Wade and will further plunge the Supreme Court into public disrepute…
The US Supreme Court does not have the authority to redefine something it did not create. Marriage was created long before the United States and our constitution came into existence. Our constitution says nothing about marriage. The majority who issued today’s ruling have simply made it up out of thin air with no constitutional authority.
Paula Westwood, Executive Director, Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati:
Today the U.S. Supreme Court transgressed natural law established since the beginning of time… This decision joins the ranks of other immoral Supreme Court rulings such as Dred Scott, Roe v. Wade, and most recently King vs. Burwell. Unfortunately, many believe that if an action is deemed legal, it must be right.
Marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of civilized society–its stability and continuation through the gift of children. We can only hope that if the Supreme Court can create special rights for homosexuals, it will also protect established conscience rights of those of us who do not accept redefinition of marriage as valid.
Molly Smith, Director, Cleveland Right to Life
We encourage all prolife organizations to join with us in protecting children by providing them with the best possible nurturing environment – a family with a mother and father who are married. The prolife movement must embrace this pivotal tenant of human life if it is to succeed.
The Supreme Court has just shown their disdain for the Constitution as well as for the American people. Time and again Americans have rejected this social engineering attempt to undermine the very bedrock of human existence and the decision today will no doubt leave destruction and dissent in its wake.Like Roe v. Wade this decisions will not bring an end to this debate – it will only heighten and exacerbate it.
Election results consistently show that grassroots conservative voters will not support candidates who fail to see the connection between traditional marriage and the rights and dignity of human life…. People of faith will not be browbeaten into accepting an abomination of “marriage” between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Five justices from Supreme Court of the United States are not God. God’s Holy Word will always trump men’s on these natural law principles.
Dr. Ryan T. Anderson, The Heritage Foundation
Today is a significant setback for all Americans who believe in the Constitution, the rule of law, democratic self-government, and marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court got it wrong: it should not have mandated all 50 states to redefine marriage.
This is judicial activism: nothing in the Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage, and the Court imposed its judgment about a policy matter that should be decided by the American people and their elected representatives. The Court got marriage and the Constitution wrong today just like they got abortion and the Constitution wrong 42 years ago with Roe v. Wade. Five unelected judges do not have the power to change the truth about marriage or the truth about the Constitution.
Phil Dohonue, The Catholic League
Once again, five Supreme Court justices have invented a right that is nowhere mentioned or implied in the U.S. Constitution. Instead of allowing the states the right to make decisions about marriage, these judges have elected to impose their will on the nation.
Moreover, their reasoning is sociologically illiterate. The idea that marriage is a matter of individual autonomy—and not a social institution—is the most profound flaw in their ruling. In their mind, society is composed of monads.
For people of faith, this decision is ominous. On p. 27, the majority declares that religious Americans “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” It is nice to know they respect our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“The First Amendment,” the five justices say, “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives….” That’s the best they can do? Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, rightly criticizes this genuflection to religious rights. “Religious liberty,” he says, “is about freedom of action in matters of religion generally”—it is not confined to advocacy.
In order to stop the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of religious institutions that refuse to marry two men or two women, Congress needs to pass the First Amendment Defense Act that was introduced last week. Nothing less is acceptable.
Robert T. George, Princeton University
The Republican Party, the Republican Congress, and a future Republican President should regard and treat the decision just as the Republican Party, the Republican Congress, and the Republican President—Abraham Lincoln—regarded and treated the Dred Scott decision. They should, in other words, treat it as an anti-constitutional and illegitimate ruling in which the judiciary has attempted to usurp the authority of the people and their elected representatives. They should refuse to treat and regard it as a binding and settled matter. They should challenge it legislatively and give the Supreme Court every opportunity to reverse itself—especially as new justices fill vacancies. And they should work to fill vacancies on federal courts at all levels with jurists who reject judicial usurpation and can be counted on to respect the scope and limits of their own constitutionally specified authority.
The persecution of dissenters will now begin in earnest. What was done to Brendan Eich and the others was only a foreshadowing of what is in store for those who refuse to conform their beliefs–or at least their words and actions–to the new orthodoxy. It will be interesting to see who does and does not have the courage it will take to stand upright in the winds that will blow.
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Five Justices on the Supreme Court have overturned the votes of 50 million Americans and demanded that the American people walk away from millennia of history and the reality of human nature. In reaching a decision so lacking in foundation in the text of the Constitution, in our history, and in our traditions, the Court has done serious damage to its own legitimacy.
Steven Greydanus, Film Critic and Catholic Columnist
And so it ends. Anthony Kennedy, our nation’s philosopher-king, has declared the marriage debate over and decided what marriage shall mean for the entire nation. God help us all.
Rev. Franklin Graham, Billy Graham Ministries
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled today that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it.
Long before our government came into existence, marriage was created by the One who created man and woman—Almighty God—and His decisions are not subject to review or revision by any manmade court. God is clear about the definition of marriage in His Holy Word: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
I pray God will spare America from His judgment, though, by our actions as a nation, we give Him less and less reason to do so.
Today, the Supreme Court overrode millions of Americans who recently reaffirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman and cast aside the understanding of marriage that has been embraced for millennia by diverse cultures and faiths across the globe.
While the Supreme Court’s unfortunate decision means that the federal judiciary will force the states to make marriage something that it’s not, society’s discussion about the future of marriage isn’t over. That is why Alliance Defending Freedom remains committed to promoting the truth about marriage.
We also remain committed to defending the religious freedom of people who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Those individuals are being targeted, their livelihoods are being threatened, and they are even being ordered to attend government-run “reeducation” programs all because they refuse to promote or participate in something that conflicts with their conscience.
Advocates seeking to redefine marriage have been relentless in recent years—now it’s our turn. All of us are faced with a choice: continue to stand up for truth, for freedom, and for the future—or surrender. What kind of a witness would we be and what message would we send if we betrayed our fundamental beliefs about marriage now?
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Marriage involves an acknowledgment of the right of life that is to come into being, a right which is not subject to disposal by the married couple. Unless this right is acknowledged as a matter of principle, marriage ceases to be marriage and becomes a mere liaison.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, written from Nazi prison, 1943 (CintiRTL)
Scalia’s dissent has an awesome footnote on page 7 (note 22): he says, “If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” He is not happy with Justice Kennedy.