The Church’s response to the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage

Here it is:

SALT LAKE CITY —
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement today regarding the decisions announced by the United States Supreme Court on cases involving marriage:

“By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

“In addition, the effect of the ruling is to raise further complex jurisdictional issues that will need to be resolved.

“Regardless of the court decision, the Church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children. Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

10 thoughts on “The Church’s response to the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage

  1. “Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.”

    This statement makes me wonder if the church understands that we supposedly live in a Republic where the rights of the individual are upheld regardless of the desires or views of the majority.

    Granted, the very fact that a statutory marriage requires a license makes it a government granted privilege rather than a right, unlike a non-statutory or common law marriage which IS an unalienable right and not subject to the state’s interference (ostensibly, anyway. These days, the state seems to believe it can do whatever it wants, regardless of our rights).

  2. “This statement makes me wonder if the church understands that we supposedly live in a Republic where the rights of the individual are upheld regardless of the desires or views of the majority.”

    I agree with this statement. But applying it to this case makes a presumption that gay marriage is a right. I think, however, this fundamentally misconstrues the entire debate. The question is not wether to extend an existing right to a broader group of people, but whether to change the definition of a term.

    There are two potential definitions of marriage in question here: a conjugal definition of marriage, and a companionate definition of marriage. From the conjugal perspective, marriage is a permanent union between a man and a woman who unite their families with the ostensible purpose of having children, and who arrange their lives legally, civilly, and socially with forthcoming generations in mind, and who enter into a legal obligation to remain loyal to that arrangement to the end of their lives. From a companionate perspective, marriage is civil arrangement between two lovers for the purposes of sharing finances, assets, etc. (generally with the interests of the individual couple in mind, irrespective of forthcoming generations), to be dissolved when either party loses interest in the arrangement without legal consequence.

    The conjugal definition is the definition of marriage that has held in centuries past. This is why, for example, same-sex lovers in ancient Greece never really consider marriage something necessary for their union — marriage was about forthcoming generations, not just a ratification of a companionship. The state only has an interest in licensing and ratifying companionate relationships to the extent that those relationships have the possibility of generating children. The public interest generally ends when children are a physical impossibility. Gay “marriage” makes no sense to me as marriage. Basically, it amounts to the government saying, “Oh, you two are in a committed relationship now. Here’s a certificate requiring others to acknowledge your relationship.” That is simply not a marriage.

    Now, societal opinion has been shifting towards the companionate view of marriage. It started long ago, with the implementation of no-fault divorce; we now no longer see marriage as a binding legal obligation, but instead as an economic contract either party can dissolve at will. This placed marriage, as defined by the government, somewhere in between the conjugal and companionate view. The same-sex marriage movement is a furtherance of the companionate view. The reason I oppose same-sex marriage is that it fossilizes (as in, makes articulate and permanent) the companionate view of marriage over the conjugal view of marriage. Marriage will cease to be what it has been and become something else entirely.

    In conclusion, it’s not a matter of rights. It’s a matter of definition. In this case, the courts would not be protecting the rights of the minority from the oppression of the majority, but instead making articulate and encoding into law an ongoing redefinition of the very concept of marriage itself. And that’s something different entirely.

  3. “Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.”

    This statement makes me wonder if the church understands that we supposedly live in a Republic where the rights of the individual are upheld regardless of the desires or views of the majority.

    Huh? So if the plaintiffs claim a right is involved, the defendants shouldn’t even be allowed to put on a case? That makes no sense. You haven’t thought this one through.

  4. Aaron Sellers comment makes me think he’s not even aware of what the Supreme Court decided with regards to Prop 8. They did not rule in favor of or against “gay marriage”. This was not an issue of the rights of the individual vs. the rights of the majority that was ruled upon.

    The State of California declined to defend a constitutional amendment in court, which had been enacted by the people. Put another way, the constitution was amended, the amendment challenged in court, and the stated refused to defend it.

    The Supreme Court ruled that since the state wasn’t defending its own constitution, a group of citizens had no right (standing) to defend its own state’s constitution.

    As with abortion, the Supreme Court has once again dodged any relevant moral issues and instead focused on technicality. With abortion, there was no issue of a “woman’s right to choose”, and instead a tenuous creation of privacy between a woman and a physician, and now with gay marriage there is still no “right to marriage equality”, but rather an acknowledgment that states can craft their own laws on the issue and federal laws can not trump them.

    Of course, states can’t craft their own laws on immigration, because federal laws trump there.

    Also interestingly, when states craft their own laws in favor of traditional marriage those are ruled against by lower courts and citizens are prevented from accessing the highest court because they apparently lack standing.

    So the church’s statement is absolutely correct — this is potentially a very alarming disenfranchisement of a certain class of citizens from the judicial system.

  5. I see it as a sign of the times. According to Professor Harold Bloom, Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed by God for their homosexuality, but for their inhospitality. They attempted to impose their sin on others who were righteous and innocent (such as on Lot and his visitors).

    I feel that the end of DOMA and the dismissal of the Prop 8 case may be the beginning of such an end in the USA. As our federal government gets bigger and more imposing in people’s personal lives, we will see it pushing sinful things in the name of Civil Rights, equality, and freedom. Eventually, it will be a program that is so inhospitable to righteous people, the Lord will have no choice but to stop it.

  6. “So the church’s statement is absolutely correct — this is potentially a very alarming disenfranchisement of a certain class of citizens from the judicial system.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Elder Oaks had a personal hand in helping to craft the statement. It bears the hallmarks of his judicial insights.

    (As a mordant side note, Elder Oaks is becoming a very senior Apostle, and he is about 8 years younger than his immediate senior. Given the health and age of Pres. Packer, Elder Perry, and Elder Nelson, Elder Oaks’ apostolic stature is going to be increasingly prominent very soon. This is interesting since he’s been giving speeches about religious freedom for the past five years.)

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