In landmark decisions for equal rights for homosexuals, a divided Supreme Court Wednesday struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional and, in a separate decision, cleared the way for same-sex marriage to resume in California.
DOMA has blocked the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in 12 states and Washington, D.C, where it is legal. The 5-4 decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said the law depriving Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights and family-leave to same-sex couples amounted to the “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment."
In the wake of those decisions, several Texas leaders released statements Wednesday either supporting or condemning the court's action.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a lesbian whose partner held a family Bible for her in 2010 when she was sworn in, welcomes a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, but says the "fight is not over." Parker's election in 2009 made Houston the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor.
Parker says the 5-4 decision is "a huge step forward, but this fight is not over." She says in a statement she hopes the ruling will lead to greater acceptance and tolerance, and "ultimately to full equality."
Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of Dallas' First Baptist Church, said "The high court bases its decisions on the shifting sands of public opinion rather than enduring legal and moral principles," ahead of a a news release with a formal statement outling four points against the court's decision.
- There is no absolute, constitutional right to marry. Americans already recognize/accept government's right to restrict marriage (siblings, parent/children, polygamists can't marry). If you start expanding the definition of marriage between one man and one woman, where do you stop?
- In 1885, SCOTUS defined marriage as "union between a man and woman which is the fountain of all that is good in society" (Murphey v. Ramsey). What has changed between then and today (obviously the Constitution has not changed)? In 1996, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as a union of a man and woman. What new revelation did he and Mrs. Clinton receive that caused them to reject this bill that Clinton signed into law? The only answer is shifting public opinion and political expediency.
- A Hoover Institute study shows that countries that expand the definition of marriage see a drop in the rate of heterosexual marriage (if marriage is anything you want it to be, why bother to get married), creating instability in society.
- To equate gay marriage with heterosexual marriage is to devalue unique contributions that both mothers and fathers make in the lives of children. Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan says there is no better environment to raise a child than one in which a child is connected to their biological father and mother. Though not always possible, government should support rather than devalue that arrangement.
On the other side, Rev. Dr. Dawson Taylor, executive minister, and Daniel Dubree, executive director, of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, released the following statement:
We give God thanks for the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the civil right of marriage equality.
With this decision finding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the court is rejecting the sin of discrimination and the feelings of frustration, confusion and heartache and embracing dignity, respect, responsibility and social justice.
At Cathedral of Hope, we have been performing Services of Marriage for mixed and same-gendered couples for more than 40 years. All of the services that we perform have religious significance, and we consider them to be marriages that are blessed by a loving and caring God.
The Supreme Court’s decision for Marriage Equality means same gender couples now have the same federal rights and responsibilities as any legally married couple—rights to military family benefits, social security benefits, multiple areas of tax categories, hospital visitation rights and healthcare benefits, to name a few.
Expanding the federal protections of marriage to all married loving, committed couples and their families will allow them to take better care of each other. Stronger families lead to stronger communities.
We had hoped the Supreme Court would rule on the fundamental right to marry in every state, but it did not. Our hope is that states that currently discriminate against same gender couples by not allowing them the right to marry will voluntarily rescind their unfair laws as many states did in 1967 when discriminatory laws based on race were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. We believe in what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said when he wrote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
We are also pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Prop 8, which re-affirms the right of same gender couples to marry in California and look forward to the day when our nation embraces the full realm of God where all people are celebrated for who they were created to be.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued the following statement on the DOMA ruling:
"Dallas County is the first and only county to pass a fully inclusive non-discrimination policy and offer domestic partner benefits. Our policy is both legal and in keeping with the growing trends in large private sector companies. Today's Supreme Court decision underscores the basic premise that when all our people are treated as equal, we are all more free."