[Friday], in one breathtaking move, the nation’s highest court took for itself the power reserved for its people — overturning the votes of millions of Americans and demanding that they walk away from millennia of human history, human nature, and the explicit teachings of Scripture in the process. Exactly two years after this court took an iron gavel to federal marriage law, the same justices came back to finish the job — inventing a sweeping “right” to same-sex marriage no founding father intended.
Are we disappointed? Yes — but not surprised by an increasingly activist Court that sees itself as super-legislators. While five justices may have trampled the will of more than 50 million people, they do not have the moral authority to redefine marriage. Just as Americans refused to accept the Court’s decision on abortion 42 years as legitimate, they will not accept this one. Like the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, this all but ensures that America will not achieve broad social consensus on marriage. Why? Because it will be used to rob Americans of their rights in the marketplace, in the education of their children, and most importantly, in the expression of their beliefs on marriage.
And we are not alone in that view. Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent signals far more than the death of marriage. “Today’s decision will also have a fundamental effect on this Court and its ability to uphold the rule of law. If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate.”
Desperate to justify their overreach, one that cannot be supported by the Constitution, history, or even human tradition, the majority insists that there are “changing definitions of marriage,” “where new dimensions of freedom become apparent.” Wrong. The nature of marriage has never changed — and never will. As Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) powerfully reminded people, marriage was the union of a man and woman at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment, at the Founding of our country, and in every time and place until 2004. Even then, no court overturned natural law. And today, no court can — not even the Supreme Court of the United States. What God imprinted on the human heart, no judge can change.
For 11 years, homosexual activists have hidden behind the black robes of the court, trying to force their will on America before people wake up to the devastation. [Friday], in the court’s arrogance, they succeeded — swatting away the democratic expression of 50 million people like gnats on a humid day. “Today’s decree,” Justice Antonin Scalia fumes, “says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact… 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.” Chief Justice John Roberts agreed, noting with poignancy, “If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
If the President, his party, and this court think that they have resolved this controversial issue, they’re mistaken. By disenfranchising 50 million Americans, in a decision divorced of law and logic, they have only poured fuel on the fire. Forty years ago, many people thought — as some might today — that the battle for life was lost. Over time, our movement and technology helped to change people’s hearts and minds to a new understanding of the sanctity of the unborn child. And we will do it again. As more Americans see and feel the erosion of religious liberty, of parental rights, of children’s innocence, and of conscience rights, their opinions will no longer be swayed by emotions and popular opinion — but by transcendent truth and inevitable consequences that come from its rejection.
With this ruling, there is no doubt the Court has set in motion some dark days for religious liberty. But in that darkness will come a great Light, if believers hold firm to faith and continue speaking into the culture the uncompromising word of God. “This decision shows one thing: our desperate need for the next Great Awakening, and the hope of the Gospel given to all persons,” Dr. Ronnie Floyd admonished. “We must rise up like never before with great urgency, to forward the message of Jesus Christ to every person in America.”
The times of testing are coming — just as they have come to every generation of God’s faithful. But we will not stop standing for truth. And as conservatives, we will not be standing alone. In statement after statement, interview after interview, great leaders from across this country are making it clear: this is not over. From Governor’s mansions to statehouse floors, the message is determined and resolved. “Millions of Americans have voted to preserve traditional marriage, with the knowledge that moms and dads raising kids in a stable home is essential to a healthy nation,” Congressman Bill Flores (R-Texas) vowed. “I remain committed to restoring the right of Americans to decide this question for themselves, at the ballot box or through their state legislature.” GOP presidential candidates — the same ones the media criticized for not saying enough about marriage — blasted the Court for ripping the decision out of the people’s hands and making a mockery of states’ rights. “The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny,” Mike Huckabee declared. “The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity.”
The chorus of opposition grew until the responses came pouring in from all sides: the Republican National Committee; Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Steve Scalise (R-La.), John Fleming (R-La.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.); Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Governors Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal (R-La.), Jeb Bush; Carly Fiorina, and more. In Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton promised voters that local officials will not act until the leaders of the state exhaust all of their options. His boss, Governor Greg Abbott ®, fired back at the Court with a statewide directive protecting anyone with sincere beliefs from being punished by the government for “granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations.” Together, they are telling America: the court may have had the last word on marriage, but it will not have the final one.
For those who are called to such a time as this, the moment has been given to us to stand firm. And that is what we will do. Calvary, Shannon Royce told our staff earlier, must have seemed like the darkest day in the world — but it was really just the beginning of victory. This is a disheartening decision, to be sure. But we will not let a court’s definition of marriage define us. For “the plan of the Lord stands forever, the designs of his heart through all generations. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy. To deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive through famine. May your mercy, Lord, be upon us; as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33).
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.