Gay Marriage and the U.S. Constitution

In a February 25th New York Times story titled “Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage”, reporter Sheryl Stolberg states the following:

Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.

In a February 23rd article featured in The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room, Bernie Becker writes the following:

President Obama’s administration said Friday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, filing a brief weeks ahead of scheduled arguments before the Supreme Court.

In its brief, the Justice Department said that DOMA, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection.”

These challenges to civil bans on same-sex marriage may be appalling to social conservatives who are opposed to same-sex marriage for religious reasons. Indeed, the Abrahamic faiths speak against same-gender sexual behavior (which would include same-sex marriage). However, the U.S. Constitution does not permit civil governments within the USA to base laws on the rules of conduct of any particular religion. Social conservatives who want same-sex marriage to be banned have to come up with a non-religious argument against same-sex marriage that will stand up to constitutional scrutiny.

So, what if the U.S. Supreme Court were to rule that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional? If that were to happen, then social conservatives of faith would have to face the reality that their religious beliefs cannot be legislated in the secular arena.

Social conservatives of faith may perceive same-sex marriage to be a sign of a morality problem.  What they need to realize is that some problems can be solved only by a change of heart, and like it or not, a civil government cannot change hearts.

Thankfully, social conservatives of faith still have a constitutional right to declare and to teach that certain chosen behaviors are immoral, including same-gender sexual behavior. That is a reality that social liberals have to face.

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