Over on American Thinker, Ron Crews talks about how there is “No Margin of Error for Military Chaplains Dealing with Same-Sex Couples.”
Ron’s column looks at the fact that more and more, military chaplains have zero margin for error in matters touching on faith and sexuality.Read the entire article here.
Ron Crews is the executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, an organization of chaplain endorsers, the faith groups that provide chaplains for the U.S. military and other agencies needing chaplains.
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.
Blog post by ADF Senior Vice President; Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence
Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a bill to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). ADF attorney Austin Nimocks testified against the bill and did an excellent job explaining the purpose of marriage in having children raised in the best social environment possible, one consisting of the child’s own biological mother and father who are united in marriage, and the importance of maintaining that common understanding of marriage in federal law. DOMA was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 after being approved by huge majorities in both houses of Congress.
However, Democrats, including those on the Senate Judiciary Committee, now oppose DOMA, even though many of them voted for it in 1996 because they now support redefining marriage to include same sex couples. Although the Democrats have a 53-47 majority in the Senate, it is uncertain whether this repeal could overcome a filibuster in the Senate, and it would not be approved by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. On Monday, President Obama said that he supported repeal of DOMA.
DOMA has two major parts. One part allows states to decline to recognize a marriage consisting of a same sex couple that was legally entered into in another state. The other major part of DOMA defines marriage only as one man and one woman for purposes of federal law.
I was able to assist Austin and watch the DOMA hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee. I offer several observations:
1. The hearing hid the fact that the DOMA repeal could force all states to recognize same-sex marriages.
The Democrats who orchestrated this hearing cleverly directed its focus away from one of the major aspects of the DOMA repeal legislation that many would oppose – DOMA repeal would wipe out the provision that says states are free to decline to recognize same-sex marriages legally obtained in another state. We would see same-sex couples who have obtained a marriage license in one of the few states where it is legal, come to one of the many states with a state DOMA, and argue in court that the second state must recognize their same-sex marriage license, even though same sex marriage is not legally recognized in the second state.
This gets into a complicated area of constitutional law concerning “full faith and credit.” Generally, full faith and credit means this: If a court in State A enters a judgment, for example, that Mary owes Sam $2000, then Sam can go to State B to get a court order to take some of Mary’s assets there to pay the judgment. State B cannot refuse to honor the court decision from State A under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. But how does that apply to marriage, because a marriage license is not a court order? Generally, states do not have to recognize licenses obtained in another state. So, if someone in State A obtains a driver’s license, or a license to practice law, or a realtor’s license or a marriage license, State B has the discretion whether to recognize that license or not.
Whether the second state will recognize the license depends on what kind of license we are talking about. Most states generally recognize marriage licenses entered into in other states, so a man and a woman do not have to get married again when they move to another state. In contrast, states generally require people to get new driver’s licenses and licenses to practice law if they move to another state. Federal DOMA made it very clear that a state recognizing only marriages of one man and one woman would not have to recognize a marriage license from another state obtained by a same-sex couple. As a constitutional attorney, I am not exactly sure what the repeal of DOMA would mean for this area of law. States might very well retain the power to decline to recognize marriage licenses from another state, because of the states’ general authority under our Constitution’s system of federalism.
The Senate hearing on Wednesday focused on couples who lived in the five states that have legalized same-sex marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Iowa, and on Sunday, New York, as well as the District of Columbia). They had legal marriages under state law, but were not recognized under federal law. However, the hearing barely mentioned that these couples could move, for example, to one of the 30 states with a state constitutional provision defining marriage only as one man and one woman, and challenging that provision. In effect, this may be an effort to force all states to recognize same-sex marriage. The hearing would have had a different tone if the Judiciary Committee had focused on this important effect of the proposed DOMA repeal.
2. Many others besides same-sex couples have problems obtaining federal benefits, and Congress can fix the problems without redefining marriage. The hearing consisted of a number of people who had obtained a marriage license in one of the states that has legalized same-sex marriage, and how they have had trouble obtaining federal benefits. For example, one of the same-sex partners dies, and the surviving partner cannot obtain Social Security benefits that a married couple consisting of a man and a woman could obtain.
But the hearing did not explain that others have the same problem. For example, a single person who is older and on Social Security benefits cannot pass his benefits to anyone else when he dies, but a surviving married person could obtain the benefits of his or her deceased spouse. Repealing federal DOMA would not help this single person pass his benefits to his niece or nephew. His money would simply go back to the U.S. Treasury. If a man is a federal worker and he cares for his sick grandmother, repeal of federal DOMA will not help him add her to his federal health insurance and he will not receive any Social Security money when she dies, because they are blood relatives who cannot marry. A woman who takes care of her adult brother with Down’s Syndrome must pay federal tax on the insurance coverage her employer extends to her brother.
Repeal of federal DOMA will do nothing to ease these unnecessary tax burden the brother and sister described above cannot legally marry anywhere. The benefits issues should be addressed separately and Congres should enact solutions that help everyone with the problem, not just same sex couples.
Also, several legal challenges to federal DOMA are in courts around the nation. The most advanced cases are in Massachusetts, pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.
As others have pointed out, the Obama administration’s legal attack on the Defense of Marriage Act, which partially relies on the move to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” lacks controlling legal precedent or persuasive moral reasoning. That alone is sufficient reason to oppose it. But the President’s use of DADT repeal to attack DOMA is wrong for two other important reasons. When President Obama rammed repeal through the lame-duck Congress, he did so while relying heavily on the existence of DOMA to ward off many of the problematic implications of repeal. Moral concerns about marriage and religious liberty, along with fiscal concerns about benefits and housing, were rejected as irrelevant because DOMA allegedly prevented many of them from materializing. Effectively, Congress was told to accept DADT repeal based on DOMA’s authority, all while the President was just a month away from launching an unprecedented attack on DOMA as soon as he secured DADT repeal.
But the actual situation now is much worse than a regrettable tale of political shenanigans and hypocrisy. The military’s attempt to brace service members for repeal—via painfully inadequate PowerPoint training slides—still relies on DOMA’s existence to answer many controversial problems. Thus, our troops are having a radical change imposed on them during a time of war by a Commander-in-Chief who is training them to rely on a law that his administration is actively trying to subvert. This is wrong. Misleading Congress is one thing. Misleading the men and women in harm’s way who must follow his leadership is a wholly indefensible other thing and should not be tolerated. Congress should demand that the President explain his duplicity to it and stop his mistreatment of our troops.
Recently the Washington Times featured an article that spotlights what ADF has been predicting for some time: using the forced acceptance of open homosexual behavior in the military (which has been disguised as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal) to attack the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As we said then:
[P]erhaps the only institution more deeply respected and widely recognized as the training ground for inculcating societal values than the military is marriage. And normalizing homosexual conduct in the military will not only—as an ACLU attorney recently stated—be a cultural precursor to normalizing homosexual “marriage,” it will actually create the perfect storm for destroying the primary federal law protecting marriage—the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).
Basically, it will go like this: a same-sex couple will get “married” in a state like Massachusetts. One or both members of the couple will be in the military, and will press for married couples’ benefits, like housing and medical coverage, arguing that the military cannot discriminate against homosexual “marriages.” And when the military denies the request based on DOMA, that Service member will sue in a sympathetic federal court to get DOMA declared unconstitutional. And, quite possibly, the only federal bulwark against a nationwide redefinition of marriage will be breached. Sound far fetched? The first part of the strategy is already happening: a soldier in a homosexual relationship applied for married housing just after Defense Secretary Gates announced the goal of repealing current policy.
The Obama administration’s startling duplicity since that prediction makes the strategy to attack DOMA via the military all the more clear. In a recent letter to Congress, Attorney General Holder cited the move to force open homosexual behavior on the military as evidence that the time-honored and logic-based definition of marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act must be abolished as unconstitutional. Mr. Holder’s Department of Justice then followed that radical position up by filing an anti-DOMA brief in ongoing litigation that even sympathetic observers have called “a gay rights manifesto.”
The President is using one time-honored preserver of our country—the military—to attack another—marriage. Defenders of marriage, though, should not be surprised. Marriage is so foundational an institution that it is related to most facets of life. Thus, for instance, defending marriage also means defending religious liberty. Now, due to the creativity of marriage’s attackers, it means defending the military itself.