The Supreme Court is currently reviewing the Constutionality of Prop 8, the California initiative that attempted to stop the move to gay marriage by defining it as only between a man and a women.
I have always warned that Prop 8, however well intentioned in its defense of faith and society, risks passing the ultimate authority on marriage from church to state. Marriage is a deeply moving spiritual covenant that the church holds up for Divine endorsement. It has spiritual/moral obligations and is intimately connected to many of the offices and functions of the church as it nurtures in the faith. For the state, marriage must be a utilitarian model that deals with legal obligations between partners and the state's interest in administering property and parenting responsibilities. Significantly, as common law reality has long shown, the state interest is automatic not necessarily dependent on "marriage" or confirmation from the church that such a relationship exists.
Curiously gays, having been granted legal status for their lifestyle—not so long ago, once criminalized as dangerous to society—seem determined to have marriage status. Any reading of the decades old material of the gay movement would uncover the inconvenient fact that there was a persistent denigration of marriage as in institution to be destroyed, not as something to emulate. However we must grant that today many gays crave this boon. But it should be possible, even without just indulging in convenient semantics, to let the state give them "marriage rights" on the state's terms while the churches maintain marriage as a divine model under Biblical or other holy book mandate.
So where is the Supreme Court going to land? It is about as risky to project a court decision as iit is to predict a new pope's identity. But it does seem that the court is inching toward some sort of Solomonic divide between church and state and between federal and state prerogatives.
It looks likely they will question or even negate the Federal Defence of Marriage Act as something that limits the people's right to order society at the state level, since the Constitution does not speak to this issue. It may be that they will leave Prop 8 alone to take its chances in the state by state and even state-again debate on the issue.
I wish there was less mixing of a clear Biblical moral question with the power of the state. For me there has not been adequate civil reflection on the social ramifications that will create a massive reordering of society. The only other social equivalents in recorded that I can think of are the changes that came in the train of the black death in Europe that killed as much as one-third of the population, and the change to the family structure created by the industrial revolution. We need to ask always if this is in the public interest.
Author: Lincoln E. Steed
Lincoln E. Steed is the editor of Liberty magazine, a 200,000 circulation religious liberty journal which is distributed to political leaders, judiciary, lawyers and other thought leaders in North America. He is additionally the host of the weekly 3ABN television show "The Liberty Insider," and the radio program "Lifequest Liberty."