Recently I was asked to share my opinion on the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-member majority, held the position that the right of homosexuals to marry is a fundamental right under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
This Supreme Court ruling sets aside a standard that has guided federal courts for much of America’s past, the established standard that a fundamental right must “be deeply rooted in the nation’s history and tradition.”
This ruling clearly does not fall into that category. With the decision, now the standard for determining fundamental right under the constitution will be the “enhanced understanding of an issue,” which is just the viewpoint of a lifetime-appointed judge.
Quoting from Chief Justice John Roberts: “When the fixed rules which govern the interpretation are abandoned, and the theoretical opinions of individuals are allowed to control [the Constitution’s meaning], we no longer have a Constitution; we are under the government of individual men, who for the time being have the power to declare what the Constitution is, according to their own views of what it ought to mean.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led the legal fight to challenge the 2004 Missouri Constitutional Amendment that was passed by over 70% of our voters to ban same-sex marriage in our state. We are one of thirteen states who passed rulings that put the same-sex marriage ban in their constitution.
Missouri’s constitutional amendment to ban these unions has now been replaced with the Supreme Court’s decision, a decision that will “help ensure state-church conflicts for generations to come.”
It is law and we all must honor it, though we all do not have to agree with it. For me, this decision is like the 1973 Roe-v-Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Marriage is based on anthropological truth that men and women are different and the biological facts of reproduction depend on this relationship. Throughout history, marriage existed to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife and for them to be father and mother to any children their union produced.
The social reality is that children need both a mother and a father. As President Obama stated ”…the foundations of our communities are weakened” when this isn’t the case. Studies have proven that children perform best under these conditions.
In addition, marriage predates government and is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. God designed marriage to be divine and holy and, as such, He has always defined this relationship as between one man and one woman.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who issued a strong dissent to the ruling, sharply attacked the legitimacy of the High Court’s decision and stated: “This court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have the power to say what the law is, not what it should be… The majority decision is an act of will, not legal judgment… Just who do we think we are? … The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a state change its definition of marriage. And a state’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture in human history can hardly be called ‘irrational.’”
Redefining marriage would put into law the new principle that marriage is whatever government says it is, not how it has been characterized for thousands of years. Advocates of the redefining of marriage are essentially weakening the institution. We are already seeing this in our society today.
Furthermore, redefining marriage leads to an erosion of religious liberty, a major principle upon which our country was founded and what led thousands to our shores over two hundred years ago. This new ruling could come into conflict with our first amendment rights, the freedom to worship.
All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has the right to redefine marriage for everyone else. The future of our country depends on what has made us a great nation in the past — marriage, family, and the home.
Only time will determine how the Obergefell v. Hodges decision will affect our nation, but for now, it is the law of the land. There are those who agree with the ruling, yet there are others who do not. I am one of the latter, and I respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision.
If I can be of help to you with this or any other state matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
By Bill Reiboldt, Missouri State Representative
(State Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, represents the 160th District of Missouri, which includes Neosho, Diamond, and Granby. He can be reached at his Capitol office at (573) 751-9781 or by email at email@example.com.)