Wednesday, June 26, 2013

LDS Church Criticizes Supreme Court Rulings On Proposition 8 And DOMA, Remains Committed To Strengthening Traditional Marriage

Those who were concerned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was caving in to political correctness when they supported the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to admit gay Scouts need to disabuse themselves of that notion right now. On June 26th, 2013, in response to U.S. Supreme Court decisions invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California Proposition 8, the LDS Church explicitly reaffirmed its commitment to defending traditional marriage as well as democratic expression through the ballot box. Here's the official reaction by the LDS Church:

"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."

According to Joanna Brooks, local Mormon action independent of Church headquarters is also expected. In one Washington, D.C., area stake, LDS Church leaders sent an email message to members requesting their attendance at a National Day of Prayer on religious freedom convened by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this Thursday (June 27th) in Arlington, Virginia. At least Brooks is intellectually honest enough to admit that only a minority of Mormons have expressed support for the Supreme Court decisions. Other Christians joining the LDS Church in opposition include the Most Reverend John C. Wester, Catholic Bishop of Salt Lake City, Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land, and American Family Association President Tim Wildmon.

The two decisions rendered by the Supreme Court are available online:

-- Hollingsworth v. Perry: This is the 35-page decision over Proposition 8. From the SCOTUSBlog, a short explanation in plain English. After two same-sex couples filed their challenge to Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court declined to do so. So the proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court ruled that they could do so under state law. But the Supreme Court held that the proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case. Majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. Minority opinion by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor.

-- United States v. Windsor: This is the 77-page decision over DOMA. From the SCOTUSBlog, a short explanation in plain English. In ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional, the Court explained that the states have long had the responsibility of regulating and defining marriage, and some states have opted to allow same-sex couples to marry to give them the protection and dignity associated with marriage. By denying recognition to same-sex couples who are legally married, federal law discriminates against them to express disapproval of state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. This decision means that same-sex couples who are legally married must now be treated the same under federal law as married opposite-sex couples. Majority opinion by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Dissenting was Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito.

Additional legal analysis from a multitude of sources is available on this separate page of SCOTUS.

Unofficial LDS Reaction: LDS Freedom Forum has opened up a discussion on how these decisions may ultimately affect temple marriage. The LDS Bloggernacle, which tends to be left-of-center politically, has exploded with reaction (after the jump):

-- Millennial Star, "The Church’s response to the Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage". One person asks 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. The problem with that reasoning is that it implies the tyranny of the minority is O.K. Am I supposed to allow one person to impose a public nuisance upon me in the name of "rights"? Most other respondents are supportive of the Church's statement.

-- Millennial Star, "Some thoughts on the same-sex marriage decisions and the Church’s response". The author supports the Church's defense of traditional marriage, but notes that focusing on the process itself is not really the issue. He says we are a republic, not a democracy, and this means that we do not determine something is right because 52 percent of the people support it. The purpose of government is to protect the natural rights of life, liberty and property. However, he maintains that Prop 8 should have been upheld because he believes there is no such thing as same-sex marriage, and you cannot pretend something is what it is not.

-- Feminist Mormon Housewives, "Mormons and Gay Marriage". To no one's surprise, these radicals are celebrating the Supreme Court decisions. Some of them are criticizing the Church's response.

-- Peculiar People, "LDS v. USA: Mormonism in the Age of Same-Sex Marriage". The author concludes the vast amounts of material and political capital spent by the LDS Church and its membership to oppose same-sex marriage have been spent for naught, and may prove to be counterproductive to the direction the church must now chart. He suggests three possible routes the Church may take in this new situation. Most likely the Church will continue to oppose same-sex marriage, which may reduce its appeal in North America, Europe, and other regions, while increasing its appeal in more conservative and traditional societies. However, a culling of the herd might be addition by subtraction; don't forget the Bible story where Gideon was commanded to whittle down his army to only 300 so the Lord could display His power to Israel and its enemies more explicitly.

-- Expert Textperts, "Goodbye, DOMA and Prop 8". The author celebrates the Supreme Court decisions but does not comment on the LDS Church's response.

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