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November 18, 2016

The Future of Marriage

Trump supports same-sex marriage and religious liberty. Will fusion work?

In the early days of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump was asked by an interviewer if same-sex marriage was now a dead issue. “[A]nybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons,” Trump asserted. “The Supreme Court ruled on it.” Trump reiterated his belief this past weekend in a “60 Minutes” interview, telling conservative Americans who just elected him, “These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled, and I’m fine with that.”

If a voter was serious about preserving the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, this was an election where that voter had no wrong choice: Democrats tried mightily, but they couldn’t pin the homophobe label on Trump — even if they complained his rainbow flag was upside down. Writing at National Review, Ian Tuttle summarized it well by stating, “Contrary to liberals’ fever dreams, Donald Trump is the most socially progressive candidate the Republicans have ever put forward.”

The fact that Trump considers the marriage dispute settled law is a major rebuke to a party whose platform adopted just this summer contends, “Our laws and our government’s regulations should recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman and actively promote married family life as the basis of a stable and prosperous society. For that reason … we do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states.”

This dichotomy is of particular interest to millions of evangelical Christians who voted for Trump. Many likely did so in hopes that he would nominate conservative jurists, and that still could be the case. At that point, his opinions on marriage don’t matter. While Trump has from time to time spoken about the fig leaf of what’s called a “reasonable compromise” for those who oppose same-sex nuptials on the grounds of religious liberty, those who wish to avoid the fate of Sweet Cakes by Melissa may not have enough time, nor deep enough pockets, to wait for a legion of like-minded jurists to restore marriage to its proper station. They will instead simply shrug their shoulders, pray for forgiveness, and submit so as not to attract the ire of the Rainbow Mafia.

In any case, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court would hear a same-sex marriage case in the next few years. As “gay libertarian” Casey Given points out, the chances of overturning Obergefell are diminished with “61% of Americans approving of the institution.” He argues that the issue is settled at the federal level, so the next step in advocacy would be to fight the inevitable rear-guard actions within the several states. Given also delights at the prospect of homosexual appointees such as Richard Grenell, whom he cites as a favorite to be our UN ambassador. Another prominent such Trump supporter, PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, is on the executive committee of Trump’s transition team.

Yet a nation of believers pinning their hopes for saving marriage on an unelected body of judges, or (more particularly) on a man who is deeply morally flawed on several counts — notwithstanding the fact that some in the religious community consider our president-elect a born-again “baby Christian” — is pure folly. For the time being, evangelical Americans will have to deal with the fact that there’s a small segment of the population being catered to by the Left (and increasingly the Right) in the effort to wield vast and crushing political power. In that case, being right or wrong based on biblical values isn’t a consideration.

What we’re up against is a philosophy eloquently outlined by the late Justice Antonin Scalia in his Obergefell dissent. He wrote, “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

Our hope is that Republicans in Washington and around the country, fresh off a sweeping electoral win, can safeguard and restore some of the Liberty of which Scalia so eloquently wrote. Trump’s position is consequential, but it won’t make or break the issue.

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