Gay Marriage Is Here – Now What?

Gay Marriage Is Here – Now What?

The Federalist hosts a roundup of reactions to the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage legalization in Friday's Obergefell v. Hodges decision.
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Reactions from Newt Gingrich, Mike Lee, Ilya Shapiro, Heather Wilhelm, Hunter Baker, Eric Teetsel, Robby Soave, John Davidson, Rachel Lu, D.C. McAllister, Leslie Loftis, Amy Otto, Daniel Payne, and Benjamin Domenech.

Hunter Baker


The Supreme Court has now ruled on gay marriage. They have proved zealous in their protection of a particular view of liberty. I can only pray that they will now prove equally zealous in protecting the religious liberty that will likely be severely endangered in consequence. As I looked for glimmers of hope in the majority opinion, this passage stood out to me:

“Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.”

As I read the majority opinion, it seemed that Justice Kennedy veered away from his earlier practice of describing opposition to gay marriage as some kind of pure product of irrationality and hatred. Though it didn’t change the result, I think this opinion accorded more respect to those who wish to preserve the traditional (and extraordinarily predominant) male-female view of marriage.

I also take some solace in the fact that the opinion was 5-4 with the chief justice in dissent. He has been raked over the coals as some kind of fake conservative. Whatever one might say about him, he took his stand on maybe the biggest decision since Roe v. Wade. He flatly stated something that has all have needed to hear during the last decade: “And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational.”

The war over gay marriage appears to have been won. What remains is to see how far the consequences extend. I hope that Christian institutions will retain their convictions and that they will be permitted to continue to participate on an equal footing in American society. Liberal nostrums about the value of dissent are likely to be much tested in coming years.

Hunter Baker, JD, PhD, is an associate provost at Union University and author, most recently, of The System Has a Soul.

John Daniel Davidson


It is a happy coincidence that the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage comes on the heels of a hysterical outburst on the Left against displays of the Confederate flag and commemorations of the Confederacy across the country. What began Monday with the proposed removal of the flag from the capitol grounds in Columbia, South Carolina, has quickly morphed into a general outcry of depictions of the flag anywhere—even in video games about the Battle of Gettysburg—and a general call by liberals for eradicating or renaming Confederate memorials, statues, street names, school names, and other reminders of the suddenly-hated Confederacy.

The gay marriage debate is not about gay marriage any more than the Confederate flag debate is about racism.

Two weeks ago, the college students now protesting statues of Jefferson Davis on campuses across the south likely had no idea who the man was. But now, suddenly, an offensive statue is of utmost concern. Likewise, this week the dean of the National Cathedral in Washington DC, announced the removal of stained -lass windows honoring the lives and legacies of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Both windows display the image of the Confederate battle flag and hence are anathema to the dean and all decent people. Yet by the dean’s own admission he only learned of the offensive windows’ existence a few days ago. The windows have been there since 1953.

One could not ask for a better exposition of the motivations of Left than this urge to destroy Confederate symbols. It was not enough to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, just as it is no doubt no longer acceptable to hold the view that, yes, the Civil War was about slavery but it was also about a great many other things, and that we should preserve Confederate memorials not only to learn about history but to honor the valor and sacrifice of many thousands of southerners who died in battle. So much for all of that.

It is not hard to see where this is going. The gay marriage debate is not about gay marriage any more than the Confederate flag debate is about racism. It is about free speech. The court’s ruling on gay marriage announces that in due course the First Amendment is to be sacrificed on the altar of the Fourteenth Amendment. Prior to this ruling, bakers and wedding photographers had already suffered fines and the threat of imprisonment for refusing to serve gay customers. Brendan Eich was among the first high-profile CEOs fired for his views on gay marriage, but he will not be the last. Eventually, churches and religious nonprofits will have their tax status threatened if they do not accommodate the new consensus on gay marriage.

It is not enough for the Left to live and let live. You must change your mind.

It is not enough for the Left to live and let live. You must change your mind. You must not hold disfavored views. You must be the right sort of person. If you’re not, you will be muzzled.

A few years back, the late Cardinal George of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, who died in April, said this: “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.”

John Davidson is a Senior Contributor to The Federalist.

Benjamin Domenech


The arrival of gay marriage is remarkable in the United States for a number of reasons. It has come faster than anyone, even many of its proponents, expected thanks to a complete and total acceptance of the moral imperative of this cause by our cultural and political elite; it has come without a full working over of the consequences of same sex unions in the context of how they impact freedom of speech, religion, and association; and it has come largely, and disappointingly, through unrepresentative and meandering rulings of the courts. This last one reached its apex with Anthony Kennedy’s bizarre “due process + equal protection = I get what I want” ruling from the Supreme Court.

On an issue that is this divisive, and takes on this much importance, it is essential that a Supreme Court decision offer a serious legal reasoning of why our constitutional understanding of liberty includes the right to marry who you wish, and why there is no compelling interest for government to prevent such unions. It is particularly important that this reasoning be strong and well-defended given that wide pluralities of Americans, even as they support gay marriage, thought the court should not declare it as a constitutional right.

Unfortunately, Kennedy wrote no such thing, instead offering little more than a mushy love letter to the idea of gay marriage. As Peter Lawler notes, his decision includes such anti-libertarian lines as “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there”. The accurate word for this is “piffle”, an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” justification for same sex unions. Many legal minds, conservative and libertarian alike, are expressing the view today of “good result, terrible reasoning”, and they are right. It would have been much better if Justice Kennedy had just quoted from the entirety of Ilya Shapiro’s Obergefell v. Hodges amicus brief, and written at the end: “This!”

The due process argument for gay marriage has always struck me as very weak, much weaker than the equal protection argument, a position Ilya Somin shares, and the weakness of the former is highlighted repeatedly in Justice Thomas’s critique. But of course those who have strongly advocated for the institution of gay marriage by any means necessary care little how the court arrived at the decision, so long as it was the right decision.

The problem with gay marriage is not gay marriage. People of the same sex getting married will not destroy America. But it will impact America in serious ways that have ramifications for people well outside the scope of these unions – and not just the baker, photographer, florist or gazebo owner who have been highlighted to this point as the victims of overly litigious bureaucrats seeking bigots to destroy. The consequences of this decision will most rapidly be felt by religious schools and non-profits, as those who once fought for civil liberties for all will turn on those whose liberties they find to be inconvenient. Already the ACLU has announced they will no longer defend federal religious freedom laws they once fought for vociferously, because they now believe the freedom to practice one’s religion amounts to nothing more than a freedom to discriminate.

In such context, there is a very pressing need for all who believe in civil and religious liberty, despite their disagreements about marriage, to unite against the civil liberty hypocrites and the cultural and corporate elite in defense of our First Amendment freedoms. Gay marriage does not require the use and abuse of government power to trample our right to speak, associate, and practice our religion, but the aims of the secular left and the victim-hunting social justice warriors do require such overreach. These rights are essential. They are what makes us America. And they deserve defending by all who believe in the freedom to think, associate, speak, and believe.

Benjamin Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist.

Newt Gingrich


The Supreme Court decision on marriage opens up two new fronts of conflict and confusion. Its lack of clarity almost guarantees that problems Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas identify will emerge as new centers of conflict. Furthermore these new fights will almost certainly advance causes less widely supported than is the cause of same-sex marriage.

There are now no limiting principles to the establishment of new legal relationships and rights across a wide range of behaviors.

First, as Roberts warns, there are now no limiting principles to the establishment of new legal relationships and rights across a wide range of behaviors. He specifically notes polygamy as the next opportunity. If God and tradition no longer define anything, the Constitution is what five lawyers say it is, and man now places self-will ahead of obedience to any deity except ego, what are the limits in this ruling and how are we going to define them?

Second, the majority’s one-paragraph reference to religious liberty is either intentionally dishonest or a specific invitation to resume the fight on the front of religious freedom. It is almost certainly a deliberate and elitist lie thrown in as a shallow sop to the vast majority of Americans who believe this country was founded on the principle of worshipping God and having religious freedom. We can, however, test the majority’s commitment to religious liberty. If religious liberty means anything, it can’t just be the ability to speak, advocate, or “teach.” It has also to involve the opportunity to live out one’s religion, “the free exercise thereof,” as the First Amendment puts it. The very essence of a religion is the ability to define itself as separate from other ways of life (a recurring theme in both the Old and New Testaments).

To take one example, the Catholic Church should immediately file to reopen its adoption centers and other social-service institutions in Massachusetts and DC to test the sincerity of the Supreme Court’s majority. I suspect we will discover how deeply today’s majority is lying. But wouldn’t it be amazing if it actually upheld religious liberty in action as well as words?

No one should think today’s ruling ends anything. It just shifts the field of conflict.

Newt Gingrich is a former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mike Lee


If five judges on the Supreme Court have pronounced, in a breathtaking presumption of power, that all 50 states must redefine marriage, what does that mean for the countless institutions within our civil society—churches and synagogues, charities and adoption agencies, counseling services and religiously affiliated schools—that are made up of American citizens who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman?

The right to form and to follow one’s religious beliefs is the bedrock of human dignity and liberty that must be forcefully defended from undue government interference.

Will federal agencies follow the heavy-handed approach taken by the present majority of Supreme Court justices—say, by revoking the non-profit, tax-exempt status of faith-based schools that continue to operate on the basis of their religious beliefs about marriage? Nowhere in the majority’s 28-page opinion will you find a reliable answer to these questions. In his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts explains why.

“Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights,” Roberts writes, because “they do not have the flexibility of legislatures to address concerns of parties not before the court or to anticipate problems that may arise from the exercise of a new right.”

It’s true that Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, acknowledges—as if in passing—that “The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths,” including their conviction that marriage is the union between one man and one woman.

But this may prove to be little consolation for those who have conscientious objections to the redefinition of marriage. For the remainder of Kennedy’s opinion, like much of today’s jurisprudence, is based on the pretension that the role of judges is not merely to resolve cases and controversies in the law, but to apply their own “reasoned judgment” to define for each successive generation the “nature of injustice” and divine the “meaning” of liberty.

That’s why I recently introduced a bill, with Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) in the House, called “The First Amendment Defense Act” that would prevent any agency from denying a federal tax exemption, grant, contract, accreditation, license, or certification to an individual or institution for acting on their religious belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

In light of today’s Supreme Court decision, Congress must move swiftly to pass “The First Amendment Defense Act” and clarify in federal law what five justices left ambiguous in their legal opinion: that the right to form and to follow one’s religious beliefs is the bedrock of human dignity and liberty that must be forcefully defended from undue government interference.

Mike Lee is a U.S. senator from Utah.

Leslie Loftis


Lost in all the celebration about marriage equality are the problems to come from how this right was sought and realized. By bypassing the state and federal structure of our nation, the current winners have exposed us all to tyranny of the majority. That might seem a ridiculous statement now, but the types of people who put policy before principles often naively assume that their policies will always be most popular. They do not anticipate a future when legal shortcuts will be used against them.

The types of people who put policy before principles often naively assume that their policies will always be most popular.

Only when they find themselves on the wrong side of popular dictates will they realize that this Supreme Court will not offer protection. In the space of a day, Chief Justice Roberts went from devoting an entire section of an opinion to rewrite “inartful” drafting by Congress to declaring “[b]ut this Court is not a legislature.” I don’t know which concerns me more: his willingness to draft legislation or the fact that he doesn’t seem aware of his inconsistent reasoning. In stark contrast, I can read a mere half dozen cases from Justice Thomas and figure out how he would likely rule. He applies legal principles. To begin to guess how the chief might rule, I would have to know him well enough to anticipate his personal quirks and preferences.

We can continue to assume, as many court watchers did after his 2012 “it’s a tax, not a mandate” opinion, that the chief justice is playing some long jurisprudential strategy. Perhaps, although the purpose is so well concealed that I suspect either we imagine it or he is over-engineering it. Either way, we can no longer rest on hope and half measures. If we would preserve the wisdom of the U.S. Constitution, we need to fortify it. Congress does as it pleases, using muddy procedures and language to win public favor while the Supreme Court plays along, bowing to the demands of the loudest chorus. We only have one avenue of recourse left.

Professor Randy E. Barnett outlined this course in 2009 when the Supreme Court’s shrinking from its duty was still mostly confined to Commerce Clause jurisprudence. (The linked version of the Bill of Federalism is outdated. The current version appears in the second edition of Barnett’s “Restoring the Lost Constitution.”) It seemed drastic then. It is a last refuge now.

It takes two-thirds, or 33, of the state legislatures to call a constitutional convention. This would not be a partisan initiative, although Republicans are more likely to be concerned about constitutional protections at this time. By my count, Republicans control 32 state legislatures with four split bodies. The time for amending the constitution by convention has probably never been so possible, or so pressing.

Leslie Loftis is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Rachel Lu


As a longtime defender of traditional marriage, I’m supposed to take a day of mourning before moving forward. Actually, though, I’m feeling fairly chipper after hearing the ruling. To be clear, the decision was a complete travesty. We’ve just seen America’s cultural 1 percent impose its understanding of marriage unilaterally on a nation that is still deeply divided on this important question. The result will not be “inclusion,” but rather the dictatorial exclusion of a major part of our cultural and legal heritage, along with the cherished beliefs and values of a substantial portion of our citizenry, from the democratic process. Clearly, this is nothing to celebrate.

It’s actually something of a blessing that the democratic illegitimacy of the Obergefell decision is so painfully obvious.

But this train wreck has been foreseeable for long, long time now. And even though state-level initiatives are actually the appropriate means of settling such matters, the reality is that that game was also effectively rigged according to Progressive assumptions. Any victory for same-sex marriage is viewed as settled law. Defeat is taken as an “ask again later.” What good can be accomplished under such conditions, through any branch of government?

What we needed was a new chapter. This decision could be that page-turning, and in that sense it’s actually something of a blessing that the democratic illegitimacy of the Obergefell decision is so painfully obvious. We’ve just watched the Left triumph in the most important two battles of its recent history, but despite that, it’s exhausted, demoralized, and increasingly throwing itself into screwball “causes” like railing against the Confederate flag. If conservatives could show some leadership and vision at this precarious moment, the next chapter might be more upbeat than the one we’ve just finished.

Rachel Lu is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

D.C. McAllister


The Supreme Court seems to hate children. First, in Roe v. Wade, it took away a child’s right to life in favor of the convenience of an adult. Now, it has taken away a child’s right to a biological mother and father, favoring fleeting sentimentality over a child’s established, inherent needs. With this ruling, the Supreme Court has said children don’t need their mom and dad. The ephemeral interests of adults are more important than the rights of children. We have entered a brave new world.

Those who value the traditional family and care about children must work to protect them by strengthening families.

So, where do we go from here? The only place we can go—back home. We fight for marital restoration and family renewal. Those who value the traditional family and care about children must work to protect them by strengthening families. This will involve personal reformation as husbands and wives work at maintaining healthy, stable, and committed relationships, thereby reducing the number of divorces that plague our society. It will require parents being more responsible for their children’s education and development instead of turning them over to the state. And it will involve compassionate individuals banding together at the local level to meet the needs of children who will inevitably suffer the consequences of being intentionally and permanently denied an intimate and meaningful relationship with their father or mother—a cruelty that must be exposed for the abusive neglect it is.

While it is no one’s business who loves another person or what they do in the bedroom, it is the business of society to protect the weakest among us—children. When parents and the government purposely deprive children of their most basic rights, it’s the responsibility of every loving and compassionate human being to fight for them, politically and legally, and to care for them in real, personal, and life-changing ways.

D.C. McAllister is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Amy Otto


Change is hard no matter whether it’s perceived as positive or negative. Depending on where they are on the path to accepting a change, people manage it differently. A change people perceive as negative can shift people through immobilization, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance.

Otto1

For folks who see the Supreme Court’s gay marriage law change as positive—and it appears a majority of Americans embrace it—change still has its phases, and folks who are positive today can shift into a negative mindset and back again.

Otto2

Why would any of this matter? Well, the dramatic shift this country just undertook to go from considering gay marriage a fringe issue to the expected outcome Friday is unprecedented. Cultural shifts that change the very way we think about a core institution like marriage do not come around very often. Chief Justice Roberts’s dissent is worth reading again to understand just how large of a shift this is for society.

To that point, we are a country of people, and people are typically not change-agent experts. Change is hard even if it’s for a better outcome. While today’s outcome is a blessing for those who want to see the institution of marriage extended to loving gay couples, those who see it negatively aren’t thinking of the potential happy couples. They are thinking of the warnings in Robert’s, Scalia, and Thomas’s dissent about what this means for religious freedom, the ability to have a different belief on this topic and still be allowed in the public square, and the inevitable witch-hunts to come from activists who wield #lovewins as a cudgel, not a creed.

An outrage-thirsty media can now in all 50 states mock small business owners and other folks still processing what this means for a belief that was held without question for hundreds of years. More change is coming, and the question is, how fast can people change without destroying something that was meant to be preserved? I suspect many are immobilized by the fear that what they hold dear cannot withstand the march of time. Others happy that their close gay and lesbian friends can marry might waver, wishing this change could have happened with surgical precision that would have enabled a more rapid adoption in everyone’s hearts. It’s time to think about what must be saved and protected while accepting that change has come.

Amy Otto is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Daniel Payne


I see two problems with the pro-gay marriage argument, and the SCOTUS ruling gives us a chance to see if and how they will play out in practice. The first problem is that, over the past half-century, virtually every one of the Left’s opinions and activist efforts regarding marriage and family have proven to be disastrous for both marriages and families. Loosening welfare standards, glorifying single parenthood, a near-ubiquitous culture of contraception, abortion-on-demand—all of these things have been the Left’s hobby-horses and all of them have had, overall, a profoundly negative impact upon the building block of our society, the family unit.

Virtually every one of the Left’s opinions and activist efforts regarding marriage and family have proven to be disastrous for both marriages and families.

Progressives do not have the courage to admit that they were wrong in the past or that they may be wrong again, which is why they’ve been so enthusiastic about gay marriage over the past decade. This is not to say that gay marriage will have the same effect on the family as the Left’s other efforts. But it is to say that progressives have been wrong in just about every way they can be regarding marriage itself, and that it is a distinctly likely possibility that the gay marriage regime will have a similar effect, and that the family will suffer for it.

The second problem is not so much speculative as reflective: it is all but certain that, with the legalization of gay marriage, the by-now-regular assault on religious liberties will continue, probably at a faster rate. Lawsuits against bakers, wedding chapels, photographers and other service providers will likely explode, and the effort will almost certainly grow to encompass religious institutions themselves: Catholic churches, conservative Protestant denominations, the temples of Orthodox Judaism (surely they’ll leave Islam alone out of a sense of politically correct propriety). This decision is being hailed as a great victory for freedom, but—as is obvious to anyone who has been paying attention—the court’s decision yesterday will almost surely result in a net loss of American liberty, and overall America will be worse off for it.

Daniel Payne is a senior contributor to The Federalist.

Ilya Shapiro


Just because today’s opinion was expected by nearly everyone doesn’t make it any less momentous. In sometimes-soaring rhetoric Kennedy explains that the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of both substantive liberty and equality means there is no further valid reason to deny this particular institution, the benefit of these particular laws, to gay and lesbian couples. Okay, fair enough: there’s a constitutional right for gay and lesbian couples to get marriage licenses—at least so long as everyone else gets them. (We’ll set aside the question of why the government is involved in marriage in the first place for a later time.)

What about people who disagree, in good faith, with no ill intent towards gay people?

But where do we go from here? What about people who disagree, in good faith, with no ill intent towards gay people? Will ministers, to the extent they play a dual role in ratifying marriage licenses, have to officiate big gay weddings? Will bakers and photographers have to work them? What about employment-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation—most states lack them, but are they now required? And what about tax-exempt status for religious schools, the issue that came up during oral argument?

It’s unclear to be honest—much depends on whether Anthony Kennedy remains on the court to answer these thorny questions in his own hand-waving way—but all of these examples, including marriage licensing itself, show the folly inherent in government insinuation in places into the sea of liberty upon which we’re supposed to sail our ship of life. (Justice Kennedy, you can use that one next time; no need even to cite me.)

If government didn’t get involved in regulating private relationships between consenting adults—whether sexual, economic, political, athletic, educational, or anything else—we wouldn’t be in that second-best world of adjudicating competing rights claims. If we maintained that broad public non-governmental sphere, as distinct from both the private home and state action, then we could let a thousand flowers bloom and each person would be free to choose a little platoon with which to associate.

But the extent to which we live in that world is decreasing at a horrendous pace, and so we’re forced to fight for carve-outs of liberty amidst the sea of mandates, regulations, and other authoritarian “nudges.”

In any event, good for the court today—and I echo Justice Kennedy’s hope that both sides will now respect each other’s liberties and the rule of law. But I stand ready to defend anybody’s right to offend or otherwise live his or her life (or run his or her business) in ways I might not approve.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review at The Cato Institute.

Robby Soave


As an unabashed supporter of marriage equality, I am both delighted by the outcome in Obergefell v. Hodges and baffled by the unsound legal reasoning the Supreme Court employed. Neither Justice Kennedy’s majority decision, nor any of the four dissents, puts forth a compelling constitutional case for or against same-sex marriage. (For more on this, the Cato Institute’s Timothy Sandefur closely articulates my views on the subject.) Nevertheless, one way or another, the LGBT movement has triumphed in the highest court in the land as well as the court of public opinion, and this libertarian is thrilled that same-sex couples can now enjoy the same special benefits that opposite-sex couples do. This is the express purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment: to protect minorities from state-sponsored discrimination.

Speaking of social tolerance, to liberals, I say this: give it a try, sometime.

Three things. First, to conservatives who oppose gay marriage, I say this: It’s over. You lost. Please, resist the urge to die on this hill. I understand the temptation to treat the Obergefell ruling as merely another battle in the culture wars—like Roe v. Wade was—but continuing to advocate against marriage equality risks permanently alienating the under-30 crowd. Millennials are more entrepreneurial and less loyal to the Democratic Party than most people think. Republicans—particularly libertarian-leaning Republicans—can reach them, but only if the party preaches both economic opportunity and social tolerance.

Speaking of social tolerance, to liberals, I say this: give it a try, sometime. The best way to convince social conservatives that gay marriage will not destroy the very fabric of society is to demonstrate to them that gay marriage is perfectly healthy and benign. In other words, don’t humiliate them, boycott their states, shun their businesses, and petition the government to compel them to violate their beliefs. Too many progressives move from accept this to accept this or die in the span of about five seconds. (An example: just a few days ago, virtually all informed commentators were in agreement about removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol; today, Civil War-themed board games are being purged from stores to comply with the latest PC dictates.)

To my fellow libertarians, I wish only to remind them that this is as much their victory as it is anyone else’s. The Cato Institute has supported marriage equality for much longer than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Robby Soave is a staff editor at Reason.

Eric Teetsel


Two years to the day after ruling against the federal Defense of Marriage Act while waxing eloquent about the right of states to determine their own marriage policy, Justice Kennedy ruled that actually all fifty states are legally required to sanction same-sex marriages. The decision brings an end to the democratic processes through which proponents of same-sex marriage were swiftly gaining ground, abruptly closing one chapter in the culture wars and setting the scene for the next. Those who understand what marriage is and why it matters now turn their attention to two tasks, one of immediate importance and another that will require slow, steady work for a generation or more.

Proponents of marriage must immediately redouble our efforts to ensure robust legal protections for the expression of beliefs that don’t conform to popular dogmas, especially those of fundamentalist LGBT activists. Their illiberal agenda is clearly seen in the aggressive persecution of business owners, professors, public servants, and nuns who have the audacity to conform their behavior to their religious beliefs. Passing laws such as the recently introduced federal First Amendment Defense Act and state-level Marriage and Religious Freedom Acts is a place to start. However, none of this will be easy. Recent spasms of outrage in response to sensible state-level RFRA laws in Arizona, Indiana and Georgia prove that these activists understand that religious liberty is now the front-line in their sexual revolution.

Our long–term mission is rebuilding a cultural understanding of and appreciation for the purpose and significance of sex, marriage, and family. We, especially Christians, have for too long abdicated our responsibility to educate along these lines. The proliferation of divorce, premarital sex, cohabitation, adultery, out-of-wedlock birth, and abortion are but a few of the consequences that chipped away at the foundation of the family long before same-sex marriage became feasible. In the next generation, we must do as the Manhattan Declaration exhorts to strengthen families:

we must stop glamorizing promiscuity and infidelity and restore among our people a sense of the profound beauty, mystery, and holiness of faithful marital love. We must reform ill-advised policies that contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including the discredited idea of unilateral divorce. We must work in the legal, cultural, and religious domains to instill in young people a sound understanding of what marriage is, what it requires, and why it is worth the commitment and sacrifices that faithful spouses make.

As the normalization of the LGBT ideology continues to wreak havoc on the lives of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones in the years to come, those with a clear-eyed understanding of sin and its consequences must be there pointing towards a better way with truth on our lips and love in our hearts. It will not be easy, but to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul, in the end we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.

Eric Teetsel is Executive Director of the Manhattan Declaration, and the author of the new e-book Marriage Is: How Marriage Transforms Society and Cultivates Human Flourishing.

Heather Wilhelm


First, the good news: Regardless of your views on gay marriage, it’s clear that our nation’s unelected cabal of black robed overlords—ahem, sorry, the Supreme Court—contains at least one verifiable national treasure. Over the past few days, buried in mangled jurisprudence that made him want to “hide” his “head in a bag,” Justice Antonin Scalia managed to coin several enduring catchphrases, including “pure applesauce,” “interpretive jiggery-pokery,” and, my personal favorite, “ask the nearest hippie.”

I’ve long thought the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. A policy of civil unions for gay and straight couples—leaving religious marriage to churches—would go a long way towards preserving both equal rights and religious freedom in America.

That, alas, is not where we landed on Friday. Instead, the government just got bigger, more powerful, more legally capricious, and set the stage for a thicket of legal and cultural messes, the most obvious being the tax-exempt status of churches that disagree. In the wake of the decision, American Airlines, which is perhaps the second-worst airline in the country—bravo, United!—issued the following tweet:

AmericanAirlines

This is great, American, except EVERY SCREEN IS THE SAME, which is not diverse, and I get the strange feeling we’re not allowed to change the channel. Also, we’re stuck in the back, middle seat, and—oh, dear heavens, what on earth is this you’ve given me? Is it supposed to be some kind of casserole?

It’s an excellent metaphor for what happens when government takes control. Big corporations don’t care about freedom; the government cares even less. The more government gets involved in our daily lives, the more micromanagement we’re going to see. It’s a losing scenario for everyone.

This, however, is where I get optimistic. In the short run, we can be gracious and happy for those who can now get married, despite the disastrous “fortune cookie” legal logic—that’s Scalia, of course—that got us here. Meanwhile, we should tirelessly defend the religious liberty of those who dissent.

But in the long run, perhaps this ruling, paired with its inevitable, messy consequences, will remind people that more government almost always equals more problems. Both sides of the political aisle need this reminder, by the way. It’s how we got into this mess in the first place.

Just ask the nearest hippie.

Heather Wilhelm is a senior contributor to The Federalist.


Russell Moore

The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage is not surprising, but it is indeed moral and historical disaster. The Court has both created a generation’s worth of confusion about the purpose and nature of marriage and left the well-being of children subject to the sexual autonomy of adults.

As a Christian, I believe marriage is about more than just a social arrangement, but points beyond itself to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:32). I also believe that marriage is embedded by God in the created order in the interests of the common good. That’s why I hope we can turn back from this move toward laissez-faire sexuality. But regardless of the culture, the church’s witness stands. Marriage is not a government program and it can’t be re-engineered by government decree or by the swings of public opinion. Our quiet confidence is in the Gospel, not Gallup.

We have been here before. For over 40 years, the pro-life movement in this country has overwhelmingly modeled what compassionate, counter-cultural, and quietly confident public engagement should look like. Even in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Roe v Wade, courageous public voices came forward to challenge popular opinion and advocate for human dignity, not just in rhetoric but in radical acts of mercy in their congregations and communities. Pro-life churches that don’t just preach pro-life as a political talking point but as a spiritual reality offer us who are in the aftermath of marriage confusion much to emulate.

The pro-life movement gives us an encouragement and a warning. The warning is that political victory does not equal cultural persuasion. It is possible to win the White House but lose the neighborhood. Forgetting the Gospel of the Kingdom to focus on electing the right leader is a recipe for Gospel unfaithfulness and cultural uselessness regardless of whose names are on which doors in Washington D.C.

But our encouragement is that the risen Jesus Christ is still making all things new. The pro-life movement has seen remarkable legal and social progress over the last 40 years. Though we are far from where we need to be, we ought to be thankful that we are not where we once were or could be. Let’s learn from the pro-life movement how to be convictionally kind, how to be quietly confident, how to be engaged exiles as we move onward.

Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

Photo By: Ryan McKnight

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