My Perspective on the Supreme Courts’ DOMA Ruling

Near the end of June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  In a nutshell, the Court ruled that the Federal government would recognize (confer benefits to) same-sex couples who were married in states that recognized these marriages.  On the other hand, Federal benefits would not apply to same-sex couples joined in States that do not recognize these unions as marriages.

Clearly, this was a victory for those who support same-sex marriage, and a defeat to those who cling to the traditional value of marriage.  I would like to share my perspective, and as always, invite thoughtful comments.

First, let me say that legalized same-sex marriage is not about Gay Rights.  Yes, you read that correctly; this is not about Gay Rights.  I say this because sexual orientation is not – and never has been – a consideration in authorizing a marriage license.  As a matter of fact, it would be illegal for any state to even ask about a person’s sexual orientation when considering them as an applicant for a marriage license.  Homosexuals are just as free to marry in our country as heterosexuals.  Two heterosexuals can marry each other; a heterosexual can marry a homosexual, and two homosexuals can marry each other – without respect to their sexual orientation.  Clearly, the discriminating issue is not the sexual orientation of the applicants, but their collective genders.  Gays are not discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Therefore, this is not about Gay Rights.

The reason I am pointing out that this is not a Gay Rights issue is because many have joined the fight for same-sex marriage thinking that they are standing up for the rights of someone else – which can be an honorable thing to do.  But the issue is not about rights – it is about the definition of the word “marriage.”  And in my opinion words have meaning, and those meanings are important.  Let me use an illustration to make my point:

You are at an event in a large auditorium filled with many people. Before the program begins the speaker states that he would like to honor those who have served in the military. As he invites veterans to stand, the crowd begins to cheer and applaud.  You appreciate the honor being bestowed on the veterans and decide that you would like to be honored too. The problem, however, is that you are not a veteran. You have never served in the armed forces.  You think to yourself, it is not fair that these people are honored while I am not. After all, they are no better than I am. I pay my taxes just like them, and I participate in my community just like them.  This is clearly unfair and unequal!

You decide that you would like to be a veteran.  Therefore you begin a campaign to change the meaning of the word “veteran” to: any person who has served in the military, and any person who has not.  If you can change the meaning of the word then there will be no distinction between you and this group of people.  You will be treated equally, and will receive the same honor as they do. You may also be eligible to receive health care benefits since the government provides care to disabled veterans.  The only thing that stands in your way is the meaning of the word “veteran.”

If you change the definition of the word “veteran” to mean something else, then in reality it means nothing at all.  Furthermore, you will strip the distinction of the word from those who have served in the military.  Hopefully, you can recognize the absurdity that this illustration portrays.

In the same way same-sex marriage proponents would like to have the meaning of the word “marriage” redefined.  They are like those sitting in the auditorium and seeing benefits and honor given to veterans, and want to change the definition to include themselves.  They want to be part of a group that they are not by definition part of.  Isn’t it terribly unfair to give one group benefits and not another?

I believe this illustration provides a clear picture what is taking place in the same-sex marriage “arena.”

“But,” you may say, “it is unfair to withold the definition of marriage from those who make life-long commitments to each other, pay their taxes, are upstanding citizens, and who share in all the other burdens of society!”

This may seem like a reasonable argument in favor of same-sex marriage. But, I believe it has some flaws.

Same-sex couples are not the only people denied marriage benefits in many states.  Many others are denied these benefits.  For example, a man who is married to a woman in Maryland cannot also marry a woman in Pennsylvania, and another in Ohio.  This man and these women may all be upstanding citizens, but they would be denied the benefits of marriage.

Also denied the privilege of marriage are children. They cannot marry each other, nor can an adult marry a child – even if they contribute to their communities.

Other examples of those denied the benefits of marriage would be a man who wishes to marry a woman who he is closely related to, or a forced marriage – where only one applicant wants to be married to the other.

In the same vein, there is another restriction – one that includes me.  When I served as a pastor I was able to marry people in the eyes of the state. Now that I am no longer a pastor the state will not recognize any marriage that I perform.  Even though I possess all the skills to marry a couple, and am a contributor to society, I am denied the “right” to perform these marriages.

In all of these cases we may find that the marriage license applicants are upstanding people who pay their taxes and in all ways share in the burdens of society.  Still, they are denied.  Therefore, we must have a more compelling reason to redefine a word than just a person’s contribution to society. To date I have not heard one.

In my honest opinion, I believe that same-sex marriage is not just about gaining government recognition. Instead, it is about deconstructing the most sacred institution of society until its long-held meaning is destroyed.

I am not a prophet, but I would like to make a prediction.  I predict that most states will eventually redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.  This will open a floodgate of people who will want to have multiple spouses so that the government will confer to them benefits.  Insurance companies will have to rewrite polices to include a person and their multiple spouses.  A woman whose father is ill and needs expensive medical treatment will marry him so that her employer will have to extend coverage to him.  She will do this because “marriage” no longer means anything – it’s just a piece of paper.  This will cause incredible financial upheaval in our country.

I also predict that the term “State Marriage” will soon be used.  This term will be used to define any person or persons who wish to be seen as married.  The term will have no objective meaning.

I predict Christians will likely counter with something they will call “Christian Marriage.” This will carry the traditional meaning of a man and a woman.  Christian Marriage will then be targeted because the term excludes many combinations of people.  In time, I predict that the State will make Christian Marriage illegal, and they will punish those who use the term, and prosecute those who perform these marriages but refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

These predictions seem wild, but the door has already been opened. Unless the course is soon changed, I believe these predictions could easily become reality.

Let me end this essay with two final thoughts.

First, I do not hate homosexuals.  As a matter of fact, my heart breaks each time that I hear the struggles faced by those who sense this sexual orientation. Their stories have left an imprint on my soul.  There is no possible way that I could ever begin to understand the pain and turmoil that so many of them face on a daily basis.  They are no worse people than anyone else – and may even be a kinder, more gentle peson than I am.  Some may even be a better Christian than I am. Their pain is real, and I feel for them.  This, however, does not sway my thoughts on how words are defined.

Second, I want to point out that I did not marry my wife for any government benefits.  I would have married her if the state conferred no benefit to me at all, and I will stay married to her even if I am stripped of every privilege of marriage.  I married her because she is a beautiful, caring woman whom the Lord has blessed me.  My commitment to her has no bearing on benefits.





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