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America's Culture War: Marriage and Family

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Washington State and Same-Sex Marriage

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In an unexpected move in a somewhat liberal state, the Washington State Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the definition of marriage as consisting of a man and a woman, with no constitutional right granted to homosexuals to marry each other (Verhovek, 2006). Wisely bowing to the role of the people to decide such questions through their elected representatives, the high court stated:

The question we resolve today is whether the legislature may limit the definition of marriage to include only heterosexual unions.... The issue of same-sex marriage has been the subject of intense debate throughout the nation. Although times are changing, the plaintiffs have not established that as of today...a person has a fundamental right to a same-sex marriage (Andersen v..., emp. added).

The court underscored the critical importance of marriage and the family (composed of father, mother, and their biological children) to the stability of society:

Personal views must not interfere with the judge’s responsibility to decide cases as a judge and not as a legislator.... Here, the solid body of constitutional law disfavors the conclusion that there is a right to marry a person of the same sex. We conclude that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers the State’s interests in procreation and encouraging families with a mother and father and children biologically related to both (Andersen v..., emp. added).

Justice James Johnson, writing in a separate opinion and concurring in judgment only, rightly chided judges across the nation who rule based on political correctness rather than historical precedent:

The weighty record of history, overwhelming societal consensus, and the strong force of legal authorities from Washington courts and its legislature, as well as from the United States Supreme Court, do not allow such a cavalier and arbitrary redefinition of marriage by a court. Though advanced with fervor and supported by special interests loudly advocating the latest political correctness, the arguments (and the dissenters) cannot overcome the plain legal and constitutional principles supporting Washington’s definition of marriage (Johnson, 2006, emp. added).

In fact, federal judges that essentially ignore legal and historical precedent in order to accommodate the relaxation of Christian moral principles are undermining our judicial system:

[W]here courts attempt to mandate novel changes in public policy through judicial decree, they erode the protections of our constitutions and frustrate the constitutional balance, which expressly includes the will of the people who must ratify constitutional amendments. Examination of history and tradition is therefore necessary to identify fundamental rights as the basis for judicial decision making. This inquiry must not hinge upon the judges’ subjective feelings but must be based upon objective consideration of historical understanding.... Policy preferences of judges must not be advanced through the guise of newly created rights grounded in fads of political correctness (Johnson, 2006, emp. added).

Despite these timely reaffirmations of a key feature of America’s moral foundations, an eerie harbinger of the inevitable encroachment by the forces of decadence was foreshadowed. Three judges in the majority called on lawmakers to rethink the ban on same-sex marriage, citing the hardships it imposes on homosexual couples and their children. Yes, the justices admitted, marriage in America historically has been recognized as a man and woman, and most citizens still so believe, but a change is merited:

State law has always been, however, that marriage is between a man and a woman. DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act—DM] reaffirms what has historically been the law of Washington and the historical and continuing understanding of its citizens that marriage is between a man and woman.... There is evidence that times are changing, but we cannot conclude that at this time the people of Washington are entitled to hold an expectation that they may marry a person of the same sex (Andersen v..., emp. added).

When the nation loses sight of the fact that the Founders established a republic—not a democracy—the potential for altering the moral framework on which the nation was built hangs over the nation like as an ominous cloud (see Miller, 2004). When the nation loses sight of the God of the Bible, the Author of the nation’s moral framework, that which was once deemed morally reprehensible eventually will become morally acceptable and even openly celebrated—at which point, the doom of the nation becomes inevitable (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:19ff.). “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman...lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you” (Leviticus 18:22,28). “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17, emp. added).

REFERENCES

Andersen v. King County, Nos. 75934-1, 75956-1 (Wash. July 26, 2006), [On-line], URL: http://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/content/pdf/759341opn.pdf.

Johnson, James (2006), Andersen v. King County, Nos. 75934-1, 75956-1 (Wash. July 26, 2006), [On-line], URL: http://www.courts.wa.gov/newsinfo/content/pdf/759341co2.pdf.

Miller, Dave (2004), “Massachusetts and Gay Marriages,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/ articles/2384.

Verhovek, Sam Howe (2006), “Washington Court Upholds Gay-Marriage Ban,” LA Times, July 27, [On-line], URL: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/ la-na-marry27jul27,1,6981614.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack =1&cset=true.




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