The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down part of the federal law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Despite many mainstream outlets claiming the ruling is a total victory for same-sex marriage, conservative analysts and researchers point out that the decision does not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.
The Court struck down Section 3 of the law, meaning that the federal government cannot define marriage for its own federal policies and federal laws, but must accept whatever states decide. The ruling does not affect Section 2, which says that no state is required to recognize another state’s redefinition of the institution.
The critical role of marriage is not diminished by this decision.
“For most Americans, the big picture is more of what the Court did not do,” said Focus on the Family President Jim Daly. “It did not create a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage — as it did for abortion in 1973. It also did not declare same-sex marriage a civil right on the order of ethnicity or nationality.”
The church has a new opportunity to “shine its light into a confused culture,” Daly explained.
“It is time for everyone who supports the natural definition of marriage to recommit and affirm the sanctity of their own marriages,” Daly said. “We must humbly confess the damage we have done to marriage by our own collective careless treatment of it. As we continue to distance ourselves from God’s design for marriage and family, Christians will need to take their oath and commitment to marriage more seriously. Though the divorce rate among committed Christians is lower than among the general populace, it remains far too high.”
The Supreme Court got it wrong when it said that states can tell the federal government how to define marriage, said Joseph Backholm, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.
“The federal government, on behalf of those who elected them, should be able to recognize the unique value of relationships that provide children a mother and father,” Backholm explained. “However, those who want to redefine marriage suffered an important defeat today. The Supreme Court refused to declare a constitutional right to same-sex ‘marriage,’ and rejected their request to impose a redefinition of marriage on all 50 states. This decision means that this important debate will continue state by state across the country.”
Thirty-eight states affirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Lawmakers in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota approved same-sex marriage bills just last month. In addition to these states, the District of Columbia and 9 other states — Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York — have all redefined marriage either by legislation or court order.
Lawmakers in Illinois failed to vote on legislation that would create same-sex marriage. The Senate approved the bill on Feb. 14. The House was expected to vote late last month, but the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, announced that he did not have enough votes to pass the measure and would not bring it up for a vote.
The Supreme Court has allowed the national debate on marriage to continue, said Nicole Theis, president of the Delaware Family Policy Council.
“Thirty eight states and 94 percent of countries worldwide affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman, just as diverse cultures and faiths have through history,” Theis explained. “The Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t change the fact that society needs children, and children still need a mother and a father.”
CitizenLink Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht agrees.
“At the end of the day, the Court had every opportunity to strike down state marriage laws and create a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage — and it didn’t do that. That’s definitely good news for marriage.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read about the emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Read “U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses California’s Prop 8 Case.”
Read the Supreme Court’s opinion in the DOMA case.
Learn more about DOMA.