Return the Issue of Marriage to the States

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued a 5-4 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. It was a landmark case that overturned more than two centuries of tradition and legal precedent, and it was the clearest case of judicial activism that we’ve seen from the Supreme Court in recent years. 

From the time of our country’s founding up until Obergefell, marriage had always been an issue for elected state legislatures. On that June day, however, five unelected and unaccountable lawyers decided on a whim to wipe out the marriage laws of all 50 states, thereby rendering the opinions of more than 300 million Americans null and void. Those five justices ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional because the Constitution granted same-sex couples the right to marry. It was an amazing act of legal gymnastics that undermined the rule of law and the concept of federalism.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. If the issue of same-sex marriage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not. It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible.”

Five unelected and unaccountable lawyers should not be able to enforce their personal political beliefs on a nation of over 300 million individuals. It is up to the incoming Trump Administration to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally intended so that these important decisions can be left to the states.

However, when President-elect Trump was asked about his opinion on same-sex marriage in an interview with 60 Minutes, he said, “It’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law.” While same-sex marriage may have been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, it is not settled law. If President-elect Trump appoints originalist justices to the Supreme Court once he takes office, that case could be overturned and the issue of marriage could be returned to the states.

It is important to realize that the judicial branch is one of three equal branches of government; it is not the supreme branch of government. The Supreme Court does not have the final say on any issue. If Obergefell is not overturned by a future Supreme Court, then Congress and three-fourths of the states could pass a constitutional amendment formally designating marriage as an issue for elected state legislatures. 

However, if same-sex marriage continues to stand as the law of the land, then those of us who believe in traditional marriage face an important decision: do we give in to the Left and focus our attention on other issues, or do we continue to be outspoken in our beliefs? 

For thousands of years, marriage has been understood to be the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of creating and raising children. On page 83 of God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee writes, “In the act of conceiving a child, a man and woman literally do become ‘one flesh,’ as it’s described in the Bible, in that they create a new individual with unique DNA.” Traditional marriage ensures that the human race will continue to survive because children are created. If same-sex marriage were the norm, the human race would eventually cease to exist.

The institution of marriage is, at its core, fundamentally religious in nature. The Bible is full of references to men and women being created by God, joining together, and creating children. Thanks to liberal pop culture, however, we are now faced with a world where marriage no longer means anything. Our culture has become one “based on the man-centered view that all people are basically good, that everyone gets to follow his or her own set of morals, and ‘if it feels good, do it’” (Huckabee 81). Consequently, both divorce and cohabitation have increased greatly over the past several decades, and the U.S. birth rate has slowed. As same-sex marriage spreads, the birth rate will continue to drop, and American influence in the world will decline as other countries outpace us in population growth. 

The science behind same-sex marriage is definitely not settled, to say the least. Governor Huckabee points out that “until the 1970s, homosexuality was considered a disorder” (84). Many people who now identify as gay once identified as straight. If you do not automatically know that you are gay (if you need time to question and to “explore your options”), then it is safe to say that being gay is at least partially a choice. That is why it is important to return the issue of marriage to the states where the people have a direct say. The science is not settled, and hundreds of millions of people should not have to be subjected to laws and practices that they consider absurd.

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