Family advocates say marriage ruling ignores children

Rev William Owens Sr Credit Michelle Bauman CNA CNA US Catholic News 9 5 12 Rev. William Owens, Sr., president of the Coalition of African-American pastors. | Michelle Bauman/CNA.

As the Supreme Court handed down its historic rulings on "gay marriage," an array of family advocates are warning that the decisions could have long-lasting negative impacts on families and society.

"The Supreme Court…neglected our most precious children who need a mother and a father united in marriage for healthy development," William Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, said June 26, shortly after the decisions were handed down.

"The African-American community has already been plagued with problems related to children growing up in single parent households. This ruling will only accelerate the further erosion of our communities and society."

Owens said it is "time for African-Americans and the Christian community to rise up and renew their efforts to protect marriage and strengthen the families in their communities." Noting that "African-Americans pay a disproportionate price as collateral damage" when marriage is attacked," he stressed that "it will take leaders across the country to resist the cultural shift."

In U.S. v. Windsor, the court in a 5-4 decision struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the federal government must recognize same-sex "marriages" if they are accepted by individual states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority decision that by "treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment," which ensures equal protection under federal law.

The court's other "gay marriage" decision, Hollingsworth v. Perry, dismissed an appeal regarding California's Proposition 8, finding, again by a narrow 5-4 split, that those bringing the suit did not have the legal standing to do so.

Proposition 8 was a constitutional amendment approved by California voters to solidify marriage as the union of one man and one women in the state. The Supreme Court's dismissal of the case means that a lower court's ruling on the amendment as unconstitutional will stand, paving the way for "gay marriage" to be recognized in the state.

Maggie Gallagher, a fellow at the American Principles Project, said that the DOMA decision "is the Roe v. Wade of this generation, not this generation's Brown v. the Board of Education."

"Like Roe, Kennedy stepped in to disenfranchise millions of voters' concerns to tilt unfairly the scale of justice."

Also like the Roe decision, she said, "the deep questions involved in marriage will not simply go away:  At the heart of the gay marriage argument is an untruth: unions of two men or women are not the same as unions of husband and wife. The law cannot make it so, it can only require us to paint pretty pictures to cover up deep truths embedded in human nature."

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said that the ruling "raises as many questions as it answers."

"For example, what is the status of such couples under federal law if they move to another state that does not recognize their 'marriage?'"

"This decision throws open the doors for whole new rounds of litigation."

Perkins did, however, voice relief that "the court today did not impose the sweeping nationwide redefinition of natural marriage that was sought." Rather proclaiming a "fundamental right" to same-sex "marriage," the court the definition of marriage up to the states, saying only that if the states chose to recognize gay unions as marriages, the federal government must also follow suit.

Regarding the Prop 8 ruling, Perkins said the court's decision "distorts the balance of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government."

Proposition 8 was defended by a group of its proponents, rather than the California government officials who would normally have done so, but who declined the task in this case. The court ruled that this group of individuals did not have the right to defend the law in court.

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This ruling, Perkins said, "allows the executive branch to effectively veto any duly enacted law, simply by refusing to defend it against a constitutional challenge."

Perkins also stressed the importance of mothers and fathers, saying it is "inevitable" that "the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad."

"We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father," he said.

Religious freedom concerns were also raised, as faith groups such as adoption agencies have faced growing pressure and legal repercussions for adhering to their religious beliefs on marriage.

The president of the American Family Association, Tim Wildmon, said that Christians must now "vigorously protect our religious liberty" and work to fight forces trying to normalize homosexual behavior. 

"In addition, the trend of classifying statements that have a biblical foundation as 'hate speech' is one that AFA will do everything in its power to prevent," he said.

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