Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds marriage amendments in four states

GOOD NEWS! Ryan T. Anderson writes about it in The Daily Signal. (H/T WGB)

Excerpt:

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overruled lower court decisions that had struck down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The 6th Circuit Court ruled that constitutional amendments passed by popular vote in Michigan (2.7 million votes), Kentucky (1.2 million), Ohio (3.3 million) and Tennessee (1.4 million) do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Citizens remain free to define marriage as a male-female institution.

Today’s decision helpfully explained why these laws are constitutional, why it is reasonable for citizens to support such laws, and why arguments for court-imposed redefinition of marriage do not succeed. It also sets the stage for marriage to return to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a beautiful decision. It does NOT tell the people in the states what marriage is or is not. It simply says that the people in the states have to decide – NOT a handful of judges.

Look:

As the 6th Circuit decision helpfully notes, at issue in these cases is “whether to allow the democratic processes begun in the States to continue in the four States of the Sixth Circuit or to end them now by requiring all States in the Circuit” to redefine marriage. The court ruled that the democratic process should continue:

Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us—just two of us in truth—to make such a vital policy call for the 32 million citizens who live within the four states of the Sixth Circuit.

[…]A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the states.

Look what Ryan writes at the end:

Today’s decision pointed out that in our system of government, a change to marriage, if it should come, should occur “through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

Indeed, “When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers.”

[…]Ultimately, the 6th Circuit ruled that it would not usurp the authority of the American people to discuss, debate and make marriage policy. The ruling argued that change could come in one of two ways: through a judicial usurpation of politics or through the political process. And the court rightly refused to take the former course. It would leave to the people the question of whether to take the latter.

The court argued that it “is dangerous and demeaning to the citizenry to assume that we, and only we, can fairly understand the arguments for and against gay marriage.” No, judges alone should not have this discussion—all Americans should.

We are so often bombarded with the arrogance of judges imposing laws on us from the bench, that it is amazing when we actually hear a judge doing what judges are supposed to do – interpret the laws passed by the representatives of the people. When you hear Republicans like George W. Bush talk about “strict constructionist” judges, these are the judges he means – interpreters of the law. When you hear the Democrats like Barack Obama talk about “the Constitution is a living document”, they mean that judges make the law – not the people. We need to elect a President who believes that judges are not superior to the people’s representatives.

I recommend printing out and reading the entire article. It’s very good. It assesses the reasons for a state to define marriage, explains the concept of federalism, and assesses common objections to natural marriage. It’s good for us to know how these arguments are used so we can talk about it.

You can also read the press release from Liberty Counsel, the law firm that argued the case for marriage.

UPDATE: More on the decision from Ed Whelan of National Review.

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Coeur d’Alene city officials to pastors: perform gay marriages or face jail, fines

From the Alliance Defending Freedom web site.

Excerpt:

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order Friday to stop officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, from forcing two ordained Christian ministers to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.

City officials told Donald Knapp that he and his wife Evelyn, both ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, are required to perform such ceremonies or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. The city claims its “non-discrimination” ordinance requires the Knapps to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies now that the courts have overridden Idaho’s voter-approved constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly. The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.”

The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel is across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office, which issues marriage licenses. The Knapps, both in their 60s and who themselves have been married for 47 years, began operating the wedding chapel in 1989 as a ministry. They perform religious wedding ceremonies, which include references to God, the invocation of God’s blessing on the union, brief remarks drawn from the Bible designed to encourage the couple and help them to have a successful marriage, and more. They also provide each couple they marry with a CD that includes two sermons about marriage, and they recommend numerous Christian books on the subject. The Knapps charge a small fee for their services.

Coeur d’Alene officials told the Knapps privately and also publicly stated that the couple would violate the city’s public accommodations statute once same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho if they declined to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel. On Friday, the Knapps respectfully declined such a ceremony and now face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines for each day they decline to perform that ceremony.

This is freaking IDAHO for God’s sake. Thankfully the ADF is there to fight the case.

I guess part of me is surprised that in a country where so many people identify as Christians and attend church that such a thing would be possible.

First off, I credit Bible-centric pastors for failing to explain the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage in a way that their parishioners could make sense of it logically and evidentially. We never did that, so that’s why Christians had nothing to say to non-Christians when the issue came up OUTSIDE the church. We never learned from church leaders or our parents how to explain the problems with gay rights (Grindr app promiscuity, domestic violence, relationship instability, HIV spread, loss of free speech, loss of religious liberty, harm to children who are separated from their biological parents, etc.). All we learned to say at home and at church was “the Bible says”. That’s what 20 years of church prepares you to do. That’s what being raised in a Christian home prepares you to do.

“The Bible says” works great when you are a child in the Christian subculture, then you hit the university and it just dies. And pastors and parents know this, they just don’t care, because Christianity was like Santa Claus to them – it was about getting you to behave nicely as a child. It was never to make you kick ass like a William Lane Craig. It was never to make you into Stephen C. Meyer or an ADF attorney. It was just to make your parents’ life easier, as much as they try to cover it up with pious talk excusing them from their failed parenting effort.

Secondly, I think that the type of Christianity taught by parents and pastors is also to blame. They keep telling us that Christianity is about God helping you to feel good, and be nice to other people, so they like you. Everything is about feeling good here and now. Feelings. Compassion. Non-judgmentalism. Irrationality. Nothing is about truth, nothing is about facts, nothing is about conflict. We have witnessed the feminization of the church, and as a result, nobody has any response to the rhetoric of the gay rights people. If Christianity is about being nice, being liked and feeling good, then we have no resistance to the gay rights movement’s rhetoric which urges us to “be nice” so we can be liked, and feel good.

Declaring that morally wrong practices are actually morally good is only a virtue to those who want to be liked above all.

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Supreme Court decision not to hear cases legalizes same-sex marriage in five states

From ScotusBlog.

Excerpt:

In June 2013, in United States v. Windsor, a divided Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which until then had defined “marriage” – for purposes of over a thousand federal laws and programs – as a union between a man and a woman.

[…]But on the same day, the Court sidestepped a ruling on whether the Constitution includes a right to marry someone of the same sex.

[…]We all assumed that the issue would be back again at the Court before too long, and that expectation only increased as lower federal courts around the country started to rely on the Court’s decision in Windsor to strike down other states’ bans on same-sex marriage – in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Wisconsin.   All told, by last Monday the Court had before it seven different petitions asking the Court to weigh in on whether states can prohibit same-sex marriage.  With all of the parties on both sides in all of the cases in agreement that the Supreme Court should take up the question, review seemed inevitable.

Until this morning at 9:30, when the Court turned down all seven of the petitions, without comment. 

Since the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, that means that the marriage amendments passed by these five states are null and void, and same-sex marriage is now legal, despite what the legislatures passed.

Ryan Anderson comments on this over at the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

The truth of the matter is that the marriage laws in these five states—as in many states across our nation—are good laws that reflect the truth about marriage. Frequently they were passed with overwhelming democratic support. The Supreme Court should have reviewed these cases and should have upheld the authority of citizens and their elected representatives to make good marriage policy. Instead, the Supreme Court left standing bad rulings from lower federal courts that usurped authority from the people by striking down good laws.

The cases at issue involve lower court rulings that struck down state marriage laws, claiming that they violated the U.S. Constitution. But the courts never provided compelling arguments that laws that reflect the truth about marriage are unconstitutional. Indeed, as former Attorney General Ed Meese and I argued last week in The Washington Post, the Supreme Court should have reviewed these cases and declared the laws constitutional.

In a system of limited constitutional self-government, the people and their elected representatives should be making decisions about marriage policy. And there are reasonable arguments on both sides of this debate. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution.

[…]Declining to review these cases does not speak one way or the other to the merits of the cases. But it does leave in place bad rulings from lower courts—and it will make it harder for courts to do the right thing in the future.

So we now have gay marriage in five states thanks to the Supreme Court, and to a handful of judges who overruled the votes of the majority of the people in their states. How did we ever go from a republic to an oligarchy? And how did more than half the people in this country vote for this – not just once, but twice? Are we that ignorant of history and government that we are willing to be ruled by a handful of elites instead of by laws passed by elected representatives? Sometimes I think that even asking questions like this to people on the secular left is like trying to teach calculus to a wall. They just don’t understand a thing about how and why this country was founded in the first place. It’s all been reduced, in their minds, to doing what feels good, and forcing people who disagree to affirm their destructive behavior.

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How would gay marriage affect your marriage?

The Daily  Signal explains what it costs for those who refuse to celebrate same-sex marriage.

Excerpt:

A bakery owner in Oregon broke down in tears while discussing the fallout of her and her husband’s decision not to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple on the basis of their Christian beliefs.

Earlier this year, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found “substantial evidence” that Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, discriminated against the lesbian couple.

They now face a fine in excess of $150,000.

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Signal on Friday at the 2014 Values Voter Summit, Aaron said the fee would “definitely” be enough to bankrupt the couple and their five children.

[…]In January 2014, the Kleins were charged with violating Oregon’s Equality Act of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community.

[…]Melissa and Aaron Klein are in the process of appealing the decision handed down by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Following threats, vicious protests and boycotts, they have also been forced to close their bakery.

Melissa told The Daily Signal the charges have “definitely impacted us pretty hard financially.”

“This was not the first time we’ve served these girls,” said Aaron, maintaining their refusal was not about the couple’s sexual orientation, but rather, about their religious convictions.

Sometimes, when a person is doing something they know is wrong, they will try to drown out their conscience by getting everyone around them to tell them that what they are doing is actually right. But what happens when the people around them don’t perform? Well, if you’re on the secular left, that’s where the fascism comes in. On a secular worldview, you can’t ground human rights. They don’t exist. So when a secular leftists is confronted with a lack of approval for his sinfulness, he turns to government to punish anyone who disagrees with them. Even if it means violating their fundamental human rights. The gay couple in question could have gone somewhere else, but instead they chose to punish people who disagreed with them in order to push their agenda by coercion.

I think a lot of atheists like to console themselves that even if God exists, that they will be OK because they never did anything really bad. You know, like rape or murder. And those things are indeed terrible, and definitely worthy of capital punishment now, and an eternity of separation from God later. But I think there is something even worse than those things. Jesus says that the most important commandment is for a person to love God with everything he has. I think that when a secular leftist uses the power of government to force Christians to break their allegiance to Christ, that they are doing something worse than rape or murder, (in terms of final judgment – not criminal law). And this is in addition to the widespread support for abortion (which is murder of an innocent child) that is widely supported in the atheist community.

You definitely do not want to be found to be one of those people who made Christians feel ashamed of taking the teachings of Jesus on sexuality seriously on that day. I really think it would be nice if atheists stopped kidding themselves about being good people. You’re not good people. We might treat you nicely, because you were made to know God and so have the same value as anyone else, but that doesn’t mean you are a good person. In fact, atheists cannot even ground objective morality rationally in their accidental universe. I guess we should not be surprised, then, when we see them using government to force their nihilism on people of faith.

Here is atheist morality:

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.

(“God’s Utility Function,” Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85)

That’s why they can do these things. Because for them, rape, murder, anything – are all neither praiseworthy nor prohibited. There is no moral oughtness on atheism. And if they have enough power, then it just leads them to behave like the atheist Josef Stalin did in his ruthless suppression of free religious expression. Killing millions of people is no problem for atheists. There is no evil and no good, as Dawkins says. I think what this intolerance towards Christians for their faith is a slippery slope that leads to the kind of religious persecution that we have seen against people of faith in atheist regimes of the past. This is not speculative. Atheists have been willing to kill in order to protect their worldview from challengers. I think fining Christians $150,000 in order to bankrupt them is a step on that path. They lack the power today, but not the will. History teaches us that there is a deep hatred for Christianity inside atheism, and there are no limits to how far they will go to act on that.

You can read more about atheist morality in this post where I talk about Richard Dawkins’ support for extramarital affairs and infanticide. Like I said, if you’re an atheist, there is no evil and no good. It’s so strange to me when they try to make moral judgments. Like a monkey trying to write a novel. They act so outraged but really they have no standing to declare anything right or wrong. It’s not grounded in their worldview, and it’s important to understand what we are dealing with when we meet people who cannot distinguish right from wrong, and have no problem with coercing others against their consciences. It’s easy to see where Stalin and Mao came from, isn’t it?

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Could the same libertarian impulse that led to gay marriage lead to incest marriage?

Here is an article from The Week, a liberal publication. (H/T Dina)

Excerpt:

You should really care that the German Ethics Council (a government committee) haspronounced that Germany’s laws banning consensual incest between adult brothers and sisters ought to be abolished.

Now, it’s not because Germany’s laws directly affect the United States; they don’t, of course. And even within Germany itself, the ruling party of Chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated that it doesn’t plan on following the council’s recommendation.

The reason why Americans — and especially American liberals — should care about the council’s ruling is that it gives us a glimpse of America’s future.

The German council’s position is based on the claim that “the fundamental right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination” overrides all other moral considerations, including “the abstract idea of protection of the family.”

Right now, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act because they thought that there is no possible reason for defining marriage as one man and one woman other than “the desire to “‘disparage,’ ‘injure,’ ‘degrade,’ ‘demean,’ and ‘humiliate’ our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual”. So does this rationale for allow gay marriage apply to incest marriage?

Well:

Well, how long before the majority wants to and believes it can get away with declaring a constitutional right to sibling incest?

Don’t laugh. As with same-sex marriage, the principle has already been established. In a notorious passage of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that upheld the constitutional right to abortion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, of the mystery of human life.” Kennedy relied on the same passage in his majority opinion in Lawrence. The German Ethics Council expressed a similarly libertarian ideal of sexual autonomy in its ruling in favor of sibling incest.

[…]Note that the German Ethics Council also held that the prospect of a brother and sister producing children with genetic defects cannot be used as a reason to deny them a right to marry. After all, disabled couples are not prohibited from procreating under German law, even though they have a greater-than-average chance of producing disabled kids. The same is true, incidentally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Indeed. If people should be allowed to marry whomever they “love” then, there can be no prohibitions on polygamy or incest marriages. Don’t they “love” each other just as much? Well, then those are both “marriage”, too. But maybe that’s OK with the secular left – they never liked that whole “morality” thing anyway. So long as the selfish grown-ups are happy, why should we care about children’s needs or social stability at all?

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