On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 578 U.S. ____ (2015) (full slip opinion, including dissents, available here), ruling 5-4 that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognise a same-sex marriage lawfully licensed and performed out-of state.
The decision does not have a direct impact upon Australia’s legal system. However, it is clear that Christians do frequently have difficulties responding in a Biblically principled and Christlike way to campaigns to recognise same-sex marriage in the law, in circumstances where the dominant view is that homosexual practices are prohibited in the Bible and that that prohibition is still to be observed.
It is agreed in Australian society at large that the state should not entrench or sanction one particular religion. However, Christians are permitted to be informed by their religious beliefs when making decisions about the legislative changes they want to support or oppose, in the same way that others are permitted to make decisions about political issues that are inevitably informed by their own cultural and/or religious values. The question is, how should our beliefs regarding the correct view of marriage shape our response?
The following is a short list of articles and reading materials on various aspects of the recent US Supreme Court decision, with a particular focus on legal issues that affect Christians and religious groups. We would also encourage readers who are interested in learning about the issue to read the slip opinion, which contains the majority decision and the dissents.
The list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of possible Christian responses to the decision. The Society is in the process of formulating its position on this issue, which is also relevant in Australia, and does not necessarily condone any of the views expressed in these articles. However, we hope that this reading list will help Christian lawyers and Christians alike to formulate their response to the issue.
- Does Supreme Court’s Marriage Decision Protect Religious Entities?, 26 June 2015, National Catholic Register. An article analysing the extent to which the decision of Obergefell recognises and protects religious entities’ activities, written by Michael Caspino, attorney of the Law Offices of Buchalter Nemer, California.
- How Will the U.S. Supreme Court’s Same-Sex-Marriage Decision Affect Religious Liberty?, 26 June 2015, The Atlantic. Contains analysis of arguments raised in the dissenting opinions and background information regarding state laws.
- So-Called Same-Sex Marriage, 26 June 2015, Desiring God. A blog post by John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary, Minnesota. Explains the reasoning behind Christian opposition to the act of legalising same-sex marriage.
- What Same-Sex Marriage Means for Churches, 26 June 2015, Relevant Magazine. Contains a brief commentary on the effects of the decision from Douglas Kmiec, former Ambassador of the United States and Constitutional Law professor and Caruso Family Chair in Constitutional Law, Pepperdine University School of Law.
- SCOTUS Legalizes Same Sex Marriage But Questions Remain For Religious Groups & Tax Exempts, 28 June 2015, Forbes. Includes a concise summary of the background to the Obergefell decision and the basis for the majority opinion, as well as a more detailed discussion of the difficulties in applying the decision to religious and other tax-exempt organisations in the US.
- Struggle over Same-Sex Marriage’s Religious Liberty Ramifications Begins, 29 June 2015, Christianity Today. Covers commentary from various Christian legal groups in the US on the impact of the Obergefell decision on religious freedoms. Also includes links to articles posted by groups mentioned.
- Marriage equality would be a victory for ordinary Christians, 30 June 2015, The Sydney Morning Herald. An article by Dr Margaret Mayman, minister of Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney. Includes statistical information on support for same-sex marriage among Australians identifying as Christian.
- SCOTUSblog Official Docket Entry: Obergefell v. Hodges, undated, SCOTUSblog. The Supreme Court of the United States’ official docket entry for the Obergefell decision. Contains links to court documents for proceedings, including letters from counsel for the petitioners and the respondents, and amicus curiae briefs.
- The Rise Of The Same-Sex Marriage Dissidents, 8 April 2014, The Federalist. Not written on the topic of the Obergefell decision specifically, but on the resignation of Brendan Eich from his position as CEO of Mozilla due to his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Note: Comments on this post will be strictly moderated. While the Society welcomes vigorous debate on issues, vexatious and/or inflammatory posts will be deleted.