For years we have been warning that same-sex “marriage” is not the end goal of the radical homosexual legal agenda. Instead, the end goal of that movement is the silencing of all dissent. Numerous examples abound in other countries where we see the inevitable consequence of approving same-sex “marriage.” In his latest column on Townhall.com, Alliance Defending Freedom President and General Counsel Alan Sears tells how France is now seeking to censor speech in opposition to efforts to redefine marriage or gender.
When a society’s laws recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman are changed to honor the unions of same-sex couples, it’s not just the law that changes—it’s also the society itself that changes. A top-down metamorphosis begins in which every aspect of public law changes to match the new definition of marriage.
Today, this is playing out in France with great clarity.
There, Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is pressing Twitter to help control the speech of the people by censoring messages that run counter to the position of the French government.
In particular, Belkacem wants Twitter to censor messages that run counter to the government’s decision to grant special rights and an elevated status to people who engage in homosexual behavior and persons who are of one gender but claim to be of another.
Belkacem praises the French government for making it illegal to discriminate based on these and other things and calls on Twitter to share the convictions of the government:
It is the honor of France to have gradually included in the penal code punishment of incitement to hatred or violence against a person or group of persons because of their origin, membership or non-membership in an ethnic group, nation, or of their sexual orientation or gender identity…Twitter [needs] to find solutions so that messages sent from our territory, our language, and destination of our citizens do not bear a clear violation of the principles we have set.
Notice—now that France has added “gender identity” to its national non-discrimination policy, unapproved communiqués on the subject of homosexual behavior are punishable by law. Now that France has embraced and attempted to redefine morality on homosexual behavior, speech against such behavior is literally banned.
And Minister Belkacem approves of this. She said as much when she wrote that French officials support “freedom of expression” but not freedom of expression “with impunity.”
There are so many lessons here for Americans who think that such things can never happen in this country. Believing the falsehood that all advocates of homosexual behavior want is to be left alone, one need only read their own words and examine the legal landscape, where dissenters and people of faith are being persecuted by “human rights commissions” and other government authorities who have no tolerance for a different point of view from their own.
Alan is correct. What we see happening in France is bound to happen here should our society recognize and approve of same-sex “marriage.” And those who think that the First Amendment will stand as a shield against such efforts must remember that the Constitution has never deterred the left from pursuing its agenda. If you have any doubts about that, ask JuleaWard, Elaine Huguenin, Ake Green, and countless others who have had their religious freedom threatened simply because they chose to speak up and live their faith in the public square.
The churches of America must speak up on this issue before it is too late and before the inevitable consequences of recognizing same-sex “marriage” fall on the church. If churches do not speak up now, then they may not have the opportunity later. Visit the marriage resource page of our website for information about the efforts to legally protect marriage. And if you are a pastor, consider preaching a sermon on marriage and why it is important to protect it from radical efforts to redefine this most basic human institution.
When talking about the consequences of redefining marriage, we rightly focus upon the impact on churches—pastors being forced to perform same-sex “marriage” ceremonies, and churches at risk of losing tax exemptions for preaching against homosexual behavior. But the consequences are not limited to the four corners of the church. Redefining marriage will impact numerous aspects of our culture–notably, our children’s education.
If same-sex “marriage” becomes the law of the land, then we are only fooling ourselves to believe our schools will remain enclaves of neutrality where the issue is not addressed. On the contrary, schools will undoubtedly be required to affirm such “marriages” in their health and family curriculum. Students who oppose such “marriages” on religious grounds will be labeled “intolerant” and forced to undergo “re-education” to help reform their “outdated” way of thinking to the new “normal.”
This is already happening across our country. Earlier this year, an elementary school in Erie, Illinois voted to stop using curriculum called “Ready, Set, Respect!” — produced by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network — after it discovered that several of the books, including one for use in pre-kindergarten classes, celebrate same-sex families. The curriculum was touted as a way to teach about diversity, tolerance, and community values, and GLSEN used it as an opportunity to promote its pro-same-sex “marriage” agenda. But when the school board was informed about the alarming content by a group of parents, it determined that these materials did not reflect community values and that it would find other, more suitable curriculum.
That is how many of these groups operate. They shroud their agenda in words like “tolerance” and “diversity” while imposing their radical ideology on impressionable children. But it is not just limited to school curriculum. When a group of parents at Evergreen State College in Washington objected to a man claiming to be a woman and using the women’s locker room while young girls were changing after a swimming competition, they were told the college had to allow it because of state diversity laws! How dare these parents question this man’s “rights” in order to protect their children?
Be sure parents in your congregation are well aware of the freedoms their child ought to have in public school. Parents can download our free Student Rights Handbook by visiting www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/Education.
On December 7, 2012, the United States Supreme Court agreed to take up two cases that directly impact the definition of marriage in the United States. This is the first time the Supreme Court has been asked to decide a case that confronts the issue of same-sex “marriage” directly, so the impact of these cases will be significant no matter the outcome.
It is important that you as a pastor have the right information to convey to your church members about this issue. Alliance Defending Freedom has been at the forefront of these battles in courtrooms across the country and we want to ensure that you know what is happening in these significant cases so that you can take appropriate action.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases. The first case is Hollingsworth v. Perry and concerns the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman only. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a divided opinion, held that Proposition 8 violated the federal Equal Protection Clause. The Court of Appeals’ decision overrode the vote of the people on Prop 8 and opened the door for same-sex “marriage” in California.
The second case is United States v. Windsor. This case concerns the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act known as DOMA. This law was passed by Congress and defines marriage for all federal purposes as between one man and one woman only. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that DOMA’s definition of marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause.
As you can quickly see, these cases present the fundamental question of what is the legal definition of marriage. Thus, the Supreme Court’s decisions on these two cases will have far-reaching ramifications for marriage in the United States.
The cases will likely be argued around the end of March, 2013. A decision is expected from the Supreme Court by the end of June, 2013.
The possible outcomes
In Perry, there are a few outcomes possible. First, the Court could affirm the Ninth Circuit’s decision, which would mean that California’s Prop 8 remains invalid. The effect of such a decision would be to establish same-sex “marriage” in California and could trigger legal challenges to the laws in other states that define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The Court could also reverse the Ninth Circuit and hold that Prop 8 is constitutional. This would mean that the definition of marriage in California would remain as one man and one woman only. A decision like this could forestall challenges to other similar provisions in other states.
It is possible the Court could sidestep the issues altogether and decide the case on a technical issue. It is difficult to predict what the effect would be.
In Windsor, the Court could affirm the Second Circuit, which struck down DOMA’s definition of marriage. The immediate effect of such a decision would be to allow same-sex couples to be treated as married couples under federal law. For example, same-sex couples could claim the benefits of marriage under federal tax law. But the impact of the Court explicitly acknowledging same-sex “marriage” at the federal level would no doubt have broad and far-reaching consequences for religious freedom. And a decision invalidating DOMA’s definition of marriage would surely threaten the validity of state provisions that define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The Court could also reverse the Second Circuit and hold that DOMA’s definition of marriage is constitutional. A decision like this would protect traditional marriage at the federal level and could forestall future attacks on marriage definition provisions at the state level as well.
Again, it is possible the Supreme Court could decide the Windsor case on a technical issue. The effect of such a decision would be hard to predict and would depend on what the Court says in its opinion.
What can your church do?
In light of these significant cases that confront the definition of marriage directly, what can your church do now?
1. Pray: Pray for the Court as it decides these cases. Pray for the justices’ law clerks who will have significant input into these decisions. Pray for the attorneys — Chuck Cooper in the Perry case and Paul Clement in the Windsor case – who will argue against these radical attempts to redefine marriage.
2. Be informed: Regularly visit the Speak Up Church website for updated information about these cases. Download our Marriage Talking Points and FAQs. This is a valuable resource to prepare you for how to discuss marriage and the legal landscape surrounding this issue. The American Church was not present when the Court decided Roe v. Wade. The Church needs to be present now and stay informed about the cases and their potential impact.
3. Prepare: It is possible that one of the outcomes of these cases will be the imposition of same-sex “marriage” in one or more states or across the country as a whole. We know that everywhere same-sex “marriage” has been instituted, oppression and censorship of religious freedom has followed closely. Your church must be prepared for this eventuality. Download our resource Seven Things all Churches Should Have in their Bylaws. Our website also contains suggested language for church bylaws on the topic of marriage.
Now is not the time to be alarmist. The Church’s voice must be heard as our country wrestles with this issue. We must pray for the justices who will decide these cases and for the lawyers who will argue the cause of righteousness. And we must be prepared for any outcome. Above all, we must recognize that, as Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Let us pray that God bends the hearts of the nine Supreme Court justices to protect marriage.
All of us at ADF are rejoicing over the recent victory in North Carolina, which became the 31st state to enshrine marriage as between one man and one woman in its state constitution. I am of the firm belief that the victory would not have taken place had it not been for North Carolina’s churches standing and proclaiming biblical truth about marriage.
One church found itself at the center of the controversy during the voting. The Devon Park United Methodist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, served as a polling place and also put a message on its church sign that read, “A true marriage is male and female and God.” Voters saw the sign on their way in to vote and some complained about the message. One woman even called the message on the sign “voter intimidation.”
The truth is that the sign and its message broke no law in North Carolina. The law in that state establishes a buffer zone around polling places and restricts what type of messages can be in the buffer zone. But the church’s sign was outside the buffer zone and so was completely lawful. The message on the sign was simply one church proclaiming scriptural truth about marriage.
Sadly, many in society today equate the message of the Bible with “voter intimidation” or “hate” or “bigotry.” And they try to silence it by any means possible. The elections board for the county where the church is located plans to address the issue of the church’s sign in the coming days. If they do, they need to recognize that our country values the rights of freedom of speech and free exercise of religion. It is impossible to keep people from seeing things or messages that they disagree with. And if government attempts to equate a biblical message with “voter intimidation,” it will be censoring the constitutional rights of America’s churches to speak and exercise their faith.
I am grateful for churches like Devon Park United Methodist Church who courageously stand for biblical truth. More churches can (and should) learn from their example.