By Craig Robinson
As Christians prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ later this week, the United States Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in two cases pertaining to the legality of gay marriage.
On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justices heard arguments that dealt with the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage by amending California’s constitution via a vote of the people in 2008. Today, the Justices will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
The two high-profile court cases have thrust the gay marriage debate back onto the front pages of newspapers and are being discussed at coffee shops and radio and cable news shows across the county. Recent polls suggest that more and more Americans are becoming more accepting of the homosexual lifestyle, and even some Republicans operatives are now embracing gay marriage following a defeat at the polls last November.
Reaction to the oral arguments on Tuesday were mixed. The key vote is Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, who seemed to suggest that he didn’t think it was proper for the court to be hearing the case in the first place. A number of the justices, including Kennedy, raised questions about whether or not the court should render a decision on the subject since gay marriage is a relatively new phenomenon.
“You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet?” Associate Justice Samuel Alito asked. “I mean we — we are not — we do not have the ability to see the future.”
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia concurred, “When did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868? When the 14th Amendment was adopted?”
While public sentiment may be more accepting of gay marriage, the main obstacle in challenging state constitutional amendments that ban it is the fact that this is a prohibition based on a behavior, and the state and federal governments restrict and ban all sorts of behaviors. Chief Justice John Roberts argued that nature, not man, is what originally excluded homosexuals from marriage.
“I’m not sure that it’s right to view this as excluding a particular group,” Roberts said on Tuesday. “When the institution of marriage developed historically, people didn’t get around and say, ‘Let’s have this institution, but let’s keep out homosexuals.’ The institution developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, didn’t include homosexual couples.”
Gay marriage advocates are looking for the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a broad pro-gay marriage ruling that would not only strike down California’s constitutional amendment, but would also strike down similar prohibitions in 30 other states. The other case that deals with the federal government’s DOMA law applies to more than 1,000 benefits that married couples receive, mainly through the federal tax code.
While all eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court this week, in Iowa, a debate over the qualifications of a nominee to the Board of Regents shows that those who support gay marriage want more than just marriage rights.
Governor Terry Branstad’s nominee to the Iowa Board of Regents, Robert Cramer, has come under fire because of his views on gay marriage. Cramer, the CEO of a Des Moines area construction company, is also the Chairman of the Board of The FAMiLY Leader, a pro-family organization in Iowa. Democrat state senators have publically stated that they will not support his nomination because his views on sexual orientation and gay marriage have not “evolved” over the past decade like others’ have.
In a letter sent to all 50 state senators on Tuesday, Governor Branstad said, “The attacks on Mr. Cramer over the last weeks are an unwelcome effort by some to attach an ideological litmus test to the confirmation process that I find more than troublesome. Our boards and commissions should be populated by individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and beliefs. Certain beliefs should in no way disqualify an otherwise highly gifted individual from serving on the Board of Regents simply because those beliefs are not shared by particular Senators.”
Ed Fallon, a former Democrat legislator and gubernatorial candidate, admitted on his radio show on Tuesday that he believes that Christians who opposes gay marriage are not fit to serve on the Board of Regents or in any government capacity for that matter. What’s going on in Iowa regarding Mr. Cramer is downright scary.
Gay activists have long said that their quest for marriage rights was all about having the ability to marry the person they love regardless of gender. Gay marriage groups also ran ads that stated the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision that allowed gay marriages, “will not change religious marriage, or how each religion defines that.” Yet, Mr. Cramer and other Iowans who share his beliefs about traditional marriage are now the ones being discriminated against.
If Iowa Democrats don’t believe that people with a Christian worldview are qualified to serve on governmental boards and commissions, how long before a church that believes that homosexuality is immoral sees its tax exempt status vanish? Article I, Section III of the Iowa Constitution states the Iowa General Assembly shall make no law that prohibits the free exercise of religion, yet the free exercise of one’s religious beliefs are being infringed upon when lawmakers deem someone unqualified based solely on their religious beliefs and associations.
What is scary is that things are only going to get worse for Christians if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns California’s Proposition 8 amendment. Sure, gay activists want marriage rights, but what they are really after is validation of their lifestyle. That validation comes at the expense of our religious liberties.
There is a disgusting double standard taking place in Iowa. One example is Mr. Cramer’s nomination to the board of regents. Another example is an anti-bullying conference for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) youth, which offers workshops that attack social conservative leaders and radio personalities who disagree with certain lifestyle choices.
So, while the nation waits with bated breath for the Supreme Court’s rulings on the two gay marriage cases in June, here in Iowa, we are already dealing with the consequences of a pro-gay court decision.
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