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Supreme Court ignores principles in 'Declaration of Independence' Print
Guest column
Thursday, Jul. 23, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
Patrick Hardyman

On September 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had earlier passed in the Senate by a vote of 85-14 and in the House of Representatives by a vote of 342-67.

DOMA had two major effects, "No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state and secondly the federal government may not treat same sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states."

Voters approve amendments

On November 7, 2006, Wisconsin voters approved the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment by a vote of 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent that stated only a "marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state."

In addition, over 30 states amended their state constitutions to define marriage as between one man and one woman and at least 41 states had enacted legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

In August of 2008, in an interview with Pastor Rick Warren, Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, defined marriage by saying, "I believe marriage is the union between a man and a woman."

Supreme Court rulings

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) by a vote of 5-4 in Obergefell v. Hodges declared that same-sex marriage was constitutional under the so-called right to privacy that they believe is located somewhere in the 14th Amendment.

This "right to privacy" is the same legal reasoning SCOTUS used to legalize contraception (Griswold, 1965) and abortion (Roe, 1973), and to decriminalize sodomy (Lawrence, 2003).

Just two years earlier to the day, on June 26, 2013, in another decision by the same 5-4 majority vote, SCOTUS in United States v. Windsor struck down DOMA, thus paving the way for the Obergefell decision.

Justice Anthony Kennedy and the other four justices who concurred in the majority opinion in both cases declared that every state in America must grant marriage licenses to those of the same sex, and every state must recognize such licenses from every other state.

In a nation of approximately 320 million people, five unelected officials who serve for life decided that "they know best" what the true nature of marriage entails.

Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent said, "The majority's decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court's precedent."

It should be noted that former President Clinton and current President Obama have both changed their "original" positions on marriage and are now vocal supporters of same-sex marriage.

Just and unjust laws

Our Declaration of Independence talks about the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" in the first paragraph and our "Creator" and how He endows us with "certain unalienable rights" in the second paragraph. I ask which of the actions in the June 26 SCOTUS decision are just, in accordance with the high ideals so eloquently stated in our Declaration?

I believe the answer comes from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the great civil rights leader and Baptist pastor, and what he wrote in 1963 about just and unjust laws in his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail".

Reverend King writes: "A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."

Clearly the two SCOTUS decisions are not just, and many citizens like me who oppose same-sex marriage do so not out of bigotry, prejudice, or hate but out of faithful obedience to God's law as found in Holy Scriptures, natural law, the common sense meaning of marriage held for thousands of years, and the highest principles of our government as found in our Declaration of Independence.

For those who will opine that I am merely imposing my "religious beliefs" on the rest of the country, I respond with the words of Pope Francis from his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium or "The Joy of the Gospel."

In paragraph 183, Pope Francis writes, "Consequently, no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society . . .

"An authentic faith -- always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somewhat better than we found it . . . If indeed 'the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics, the Church cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.'" (The last sentence is a quote taken from Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est or "God is Love," 2006.)

Patrick Hardyman is from Blanchardville.