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Will Utah Eventually End America's Same-Sex Marriage Debate?

The final ruling on Kitchen v. Herbert could accomplish what DOMA and Prop. 8 cases failed to do.
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Yesterday's emergency ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court not only ended a record run of nearly 1,000 marriages in Utah. The apparently unanimous decision to temporarily restore Utah's state law banning same-sex marriages suggests this case could ...

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Displaying 1–54 of 54 comments

Ken johnson

February 21, 2014  7:03pm

Jeff Perry: Good comment. I'm afraid people are getting the religious and legal aspects of marriage confused. The government isn't and shouldn't be interested in the religious aspects of marriage. That is entirely an individual matter and falls under the Freedom of Religion umbrella. The legal contract part of marriage is all the government is interested in. This is why all the Federal judges who have ruled on the gay marriage issue, so far, are in agreement that there is no justification for denying the benefits of this legal contract to couples who don't fit the traditional form. In the process, they have weighed most of the arguments made for limiting this right, and found them wanting. If we lived in a Theocracy, this would be easier. Look at the laws in some of the Muslim countries. We are not a Theocracy. The sole authority in determining how this country is to evolve and what it is to become is the Constitution.

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Ken johnson

February 21, 2014  6:08pm

Aaron Clark: Please give me an example of a part of the Constitution that can be explained as only coming from the Bible. Many of the Founders were Christians, but not all of them wanted the Constitution to be a religious document. And most of the non-believers certainly did not want it to be such. My argument is that those in favor of a non-Christian document won out at the Constitutional convention. Read the constitutions of the various colonies and even those of the original states. Those were religious documents. Compare them to the Federal Constitution. The difference will be obvious. If the Founders wanted a religious document, why wouldn't they have just copied the format of the colonies' and states' constitutions? Even the Christians realized that the Constitution was lacking in the religious realm. Early in the 1800's they tried to get an amendment passed that would do a better job of acknowledging God and Christ in the Preamble. It did not succeed. Our authority: Constitution

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Byron Mullet

February 16, 2014  7:27pm

The Supreme Court will find wisdom on the same sex issue, by affirming a child's right to be moral, to possess, keep and maintain a Christian, biblical conscience in public and private spaces. In other words, when children's religious rights are considered and protected, it will become obvious homosexuals do not have the right to corrupt them in public school indoctrination centers or private same sex "family's". In addition, they and their supporters, will be outed as the intellectual-spiritual child molesters they have become, instead of self coronated god's, with the power to turn perversions into righteousness.

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Irv Spielberg

February 16, 2014  2:34am

Universal GAYety is Coming ! Gays are found throughout history. For the first time ever - finally - they're almost worldwide! Wow! This global gaydom is even foretold in the Bible - predicted by Jesus (see "days of Lot" in Luke 17 and compare with Genesis 19). And the Hebrew prophet Zechariah (14th chapter) says that during the same gay "days" ALL nations will come against Israel and fulfill the "days of Noah" at the same time (see Luke 17 again) - a short time of anti-Jewish genocide found in Zechariah 13:8 when two-thirds of all Jews will die. In other words, when "gay days" have become universal, all hell will break loose! Shockingly, the same "days" will lead to and trigger the "end of days" - and when they begin, human government will quickly wind down in just a few short years. For the first time in history there won't be enough time for anyone to expect to live long enough to be able to attend college, have kids and grand-kids, save for and enjoy retirement, etc. One final thought. The more we see gays "coming out," the sooner Jesus will be "coming down"! (For more, Google or Yahoo "God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up" and "Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality. When gays have birthdays...")

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Jeff Perry

February 15, 2014  11:44pm

Marriage is a word. ........It is a word to describe a Hindu union, a Sikh union, a Muslim union, a Jewish union. .... Why do Christians want to be associated with a word that describes other Religions that worship Pagan gods?....The interpretation from Hebrew, Greek to modern day English uses the word "Marriage", to aid in translation. ............ A Holy Union that is based on beliefs from the Bible, and in the case of Christians, the New Testament, would be the solution................................................................... ..................................... The documents that the Government calls "Marriage" is a contract between 2 people and the Government.....A Holy Union would be protected under the Freedom of Religion Act, simply because it is Scripture based and there is no contract with the Government.

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audrey ruth

January 13, 2014  11:21pm

Judge Shelby's 53-page ruling violated the rights of Utahans to vote for their state laws as they see fit. ITA with Utah governor Gary Herbert who said he was very disappointed an activist federal judge was attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. That's exactly what happened in this case. I also agree with the statement by Utah's state officials.

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Aaron Clark

January 13, 2014  8:58pm

Pt. 3 Whether we live by faith--by religion--or by logic and reason, both ideas are meaningless delusions. Writing blogs, posts, articles, or books are delusional behaviors--acting as if meaning and purpose exist, in a meaningless and purposeless universe. But all atheists live as if there is meaning and purpose in life: they cannot help themselves--they are made in God's image, in God's universe, filled with God's meaning, truth, purpose, and morality which is revealed in God's Word, the Holy Bible.

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Aaron Clark

January 13, 2014  8:51pm

Pt.2 It is an inevitable, logical deduction that a meaningless, purposeless universe can only create that which is meaningless and purposeless. Our brains are meaningless and purposeless. Every thought, every feeling, even our "highest thoughts," produced by our brains, are merely meaningless nerve impulses. It is meaningless whether we exist or do not exist. It is meaningless whether we live or die, suffer pain or pleasure, love or hate. All our values, ethics, and morals are meaningless thoughts in our meaninglessly evolved brains. Concepts of truth, "human rights," law and liberties, even the very ideas of meaning and purpose, are meaningless sparks in our meaningless brains. It is not only illogical, but irrational and even delusional to believe in or act as if there is purpose in our purposeless and meaningless lives, in our meaningless and purposeless universe. This is where reason--the "rational" takes us and makes us less than dust. .

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Aaron Clark

January 13, 2014  8:40pm

Pt. 1 "Rational basis" means that every law must have a reason, separate from religious values. However, our Constitution is based on literal, Biblical principles, not a "rational basis". Our Constitution, from which all our laws flow, cannot meet this standard; by the SCOTUS definition, the Constitution which gives us our rights is inherently invalid. A "rational basis" for our laws is thus meaningless. But could we start, follow, and end only with reason to write a new constitution? Where does reason alone, apart from God, take us? Dr. George Gaylord Simpson (Harvard) an agnostic biologist said, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process". Atheist biologist Dr. Jerry Coyne: "...to the best of our knowledge evolution, like all natural processes, is purposeless and unguided". Dr. Larry Moran: "evolution is a blind, purposeless process..." Atheist biologist P.Z. Myers: "Yes, it is a meaningless universe". If there is no God, the universe is meaningless and purposeless.

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Aaron Clark

January 13, 2014  8:22pm

Since our Constitutional liberties are based upon Genesis 1:26-28, we must recognize the import of God's words. "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28) is God's way of establishing a continuance of humanity, with their God-given rights. ALL "gay" couples are INHERENTLY incapable of fulfilling this command. Woman was created to be the perfect complement of man; BOTH TOGETHER are physically and biologically made and fine-tuned for each other, to fulfill Genesis 1:28. This is INHERENTLY IMPOSSIBLE for "gay" couples. The writers of the Constitution recognized that homosexuality was so contradictory of Biblical principles that "gay" or "lesbian" acts were subject to the strongest legal penalties in their society. According to our Biblical-Constitutional principles, this "gay" phenomenon falls outside legal protection, no matter what one falsely believes--against these Biblical principles on which our Constitution is based. Then what about the "rational basis" test of the Supreme Court?

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Aaron Clark

January 13, 2014  8:00pm

In our republic, anyone can propose a bill, even with religious content, have it voted on, passed, and signed by the president to become law, impose it on everyone, even those who disagree, unless this law violates an actual, Biblically-based Constitutional right. Let us reason by way of analogy. We have a variety of opinions (liberal, moderate, conservative) on every issue;must we know exactly what single "VERSION/INTERPRETATION OF 'political principles' " we will use? Must we "know" and "acquire the authority to decide," that THIS version (of political opinions) is right and THAT version is wrong?" Do we have to know "who's right and how we know" to pass a bill? Are we unable to "impose it one EVERYone else, even people who disagree," because there is a difference of opinion? If these questions are determinative, then no law can be passed--there is never perfect unanimity. But if our political process is valid, then these questions are invalid-a "false dilemma," a logical error.

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THOMAS F HARKINS JR

January 13, 2014  6:40pm

James Cowles, you say, "absent any supplementary rational reason." EXACTLY!! That is precisely why states have the right to allow for heterosexual marriage and not homosexual. Because there are "rational reasons" for the distinction. Such as, the very capacity to have children to begin with. The state has a rational reason to focus on childbearing and child-rearing as their purpose for bestowing the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of "marriage" on heterosexual unions and not homosexual ones. It does not depend on religion at all!

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James Cowles

January 13, 2014  3:45pm

@ Susan Gillespie ... "Therefore it's obvious on its face that any individual is free to believe gay marriage is wrong, to say so and not to enter into one. They do not, however, on the basis of their religion, have the right to prevent someone with a different conscience from entering into it." *** YES!!! EXACTLY!!! PRECISELY!!! *** There is no such thing as a constitutional right to coerce SOMEONE ELSE'S religious conscience. There is also no right to impose one's religious / theological beliefs on others -- who may not share those convictions -- by inscribing one's purely religious / theological beliefs into the CIVIL law. Europe tried that little experiment for 200 years in the 1500s and 1600s and only succeeded in stacking the bodies high enough to blot out the sun. The "religion clauses" of the First Amendment were both written in the blood of the slain. It's discouraging to see how many people aspire to UN-learn that bitter lesson.

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James Cowles

January 13, 2014  3:41pm

As for the states prerogative to deny the right to enter into contracts ... yes, the state does have this power. However (1) the presupposition is always that a person can enter into contracts, and (2) this right may only be abridged for reasons that are rationally related to the nature of the contract. E.g., minor kids cannot enter into contracts because they are not of majority age. The rationale is that if kids were allowed to enter into contracts, the contracts would not be enforceable -- which would undermine the credibility of all contracts of whatever nature. Ditto people with certain types of mental impairment. There is a right to be married, but only if the parties are not too closely related. The rational justification here is birth defects. ** PURELY THEOLOGICAL ** reasons for denying contracts are facial violations of the "establishment" clause, absent any supplementary rational reason. Without such reasons, the "equal protection" & "due process" clauses are relevant.

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James Cowles

January 13, 2014  3:32pm

@ Thomas F. Harkins, Jr ... "For one thing, when I got married, the pastor signed a marriage certificate." Yes, so did I, and the marriage certificate is a legal document attesting to the fact that you and your wife are married legally in the eyes of the state, and that you therefore incur certain legal obligations, privileges, and immunities not available to people who are not civilly / legally married. E.g., you are responsible for each other's debts; a surviving spouse gets part of the deceased spouse's Social Security benefits; you have hospital visitation rights not available to couples not civilly married; you cannot be forced to testify against one another in court; etc., etc., etc. The marriage certificate does not mention these explicitly, of course. No single document does. But it "points to" them by designating you and your wife as being "married'. Most ministers of legally recognized churches act in a dual capacity as a minister of the church AND ALSO an agent of the state

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Susan Gillespie

January 13, 2014  11:01am

Aaron, your conclusion does not flow from your argument. Each person has the right to the free exercise of religion. Therefore it's obvious on its face that any individual is free to believe gay marriage is wrong, to say so and not to enter into one. They do not, however, on the basis of their religion, have the right to prevent someone with a different conscience from entering into it. If you hope to prevent gay marriage, you're going to have to do it with a different argument from a religious one, because the Constitution protects your individual conscience AND the other guy's.

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THOMAS F HARKINS JR

January 13, 2014  9:35am

James, see my distant comment of January 10 and your response. Again, I think you are sidestepping the issue. For one thing, when I got married, the pastor signed a marriage certificate. I did not sign some "contract" between myself and my wife with respect to various privileges of the type you mention. Those were all conveyed by the state. The question is, does the state have the authority to restrict the bestowal of such privileges? It does, for the reasons I stated in the comment before those two. One more time, the question is, "What is marriage?" and youi have not shown me any basis to restrict states from declaring marriages to be between a man and a woman. Just because many religious people may believe the same thing does not stop the state from reaching such a determination. It is not a question of "establishment of religion."

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James Cowles

January 12, 2014  8:43am

BTW despite having asked my 2 questions dozens of times in many different contexts, the only answer I've ever received is "Who cares whose version / interpretation? After all, we all agree on the essentials" ... which prompts 2 more follow-up questions: (a) who has the authority to decide what is "essential" & what is "optional"? and (b) how did they acquire that authority? After all, the Protestant Reformation was fought out in order to ABOLISH such authority so that each person & group could follow their OWN conscience. Perhaps this is a case-in-point of "Be careful what you wish for".

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James Cowles

January 12, 2014  8:35am

@ Aaron Clark ... "Every word of our Constitution rests on Biblical, Christian ideas; we are free to include religious, Biblical ideas by amendment or by law." ... which prompts me to ask you the same question I always ask conservative Christians who advocate "biblical principles" as a basis for national law & policy: (1) whose VERSION / INTERPRETATION of "biblical principles" do you propose to use & (2) how do you know, and how did you acquire the authority to decide, that THIS version is right and THAT version is wrong? For example, some churches are pro-life; some pro-choice. Some are pro gay marriage; others, anti. Who's right & how do you know? Oh ... and a 3rd question, lest I forget: when you've picked a theology as the right one, how do you impose it on EVERYone else, even people who disagree, without violating the very "establishment" & "free exercise" clauses you claim to defend? One of those "biblical ... ideas" is "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land ... "

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Aaron Clark

January 12, 2014  2:41am

Virginia and Madison made clear that there must be no national religion, and that freedom of belief, worship and living our lives by our religiously informed conscience needed protection. There is no freedom of religion unless we can believe, worship, and live out our lives in the context of our faith. This amendment was debated; see, e.g., http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=001/llac001.db&re cNum=380 and http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llac&fileName=001/llac001.db&re cNum=381 But in the end, Madison's ideas were fully, and concisely, expressed in the final "Religion Clauses". There can be no national, "established" church, and religious people have the "free exercise" to believe, worship, and conduct their lives by their religiously-informed "conscience". Do not be deceived by false, atheist pseudo-history. Every word of our Constitution rests on Biblical, Christian ideas; we are free to include religious, Biblical ideas by amendment or by law.

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Aaron Clark

January 12, 2014  2:16am

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." We must understand these Constitutional words in their historical context. When this country began to be colonized, thousands of religious people came to be free from religious persecution by their "established" churches, such as the Church of England. However, some persecuted became persecutors, through "established" colonial churches. When the Constitution failed to contain a bill of rights, some states demanded that a list of rights be added, by amendment, to the Constitution. On June 8, 1789, James Madison presented his condensed version of Virginia's list to Congress, including the proposed religious freedom amendment for religious people: " The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief, or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner or any pretext, infringed."

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Aaron Clark

January 12, 2014  2:08am

The Christian philosopher John Locke derived (First Treatise, Chs. IV-VI) the rights of "life, liberty and property" from the blessing of God on Adam and Adam's seed in Genesis 1:28: "And God BLESSED them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion..." Jefferson (who has been accused of plagiarism by including many of Locke's ideas and words) , Franklin and others put Locke's ideas into the Declaration of Independence: "...all men are created equal... they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to SECURE these rights, Governments are instituted among Men... " These Bible-based ideas were carried over into the Constitution's Preamble: "We the people...to SECURE the BLESSINGS of Liberty". Our Bible-based Constitution began the process of securing these rights; all our Constitutional rights are based on Biblical, Christian ideas.

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James Cowles

January 11, 2014  11:02pm

@ Steve Miller ... "Any Christian who is pro marriage is a Christian who does not believe the Bible." Or maybe a Christian who believes in the separation of Church and State & who understands & values the "establishment" & "free exercise" clauses of the 1st Amendment & does not believe the Nation should be a theocracy.

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Steve Miller

January 11, 2014  4:26pm

Any Christian who is pro marriage is a Christian who does not believe the Bible. A Christian who does not believe the Bible is not a Christian. We are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its savor it is good for nothing.

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  11:19pm

@ Thomas F. Harkins, Jr. ... The govmnt can only determine who can be married CIVILLY. Religious organizations determine who can be married SACRAMENTALLY / RELIGIOUSLY. There are limitations even there. A religious sect can marry an adult & a minor child. But if the marriage is consummated, the adult can be arrested & charged with stat rape. But from the church's standpoint, the marriage itself will be sacramentally valid. (When a husband abuses his wife, he commits a criminal act, but he & his wife are still married.) But again, the govmnt does not have a voice in marriage from a RELIGIOUS standpoint. Religious & civil marriage are completely independent, in fact & in theory. A person can have one type of marriage & not the other. You can be married by a minister & not a judge, or vice versa -- though if you decline to be married civilly, your marriage will have no legal / civil standing. In most churches, the minister is empowered to act as an agent of both state & church.

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  11:08pm

@ Thomas F. Harkins, Jr. ... "I disagree with your conclusion that marriage is just a "contract" between two people." I'm simply telling you what a marriage is from the standpoint of the civil law. Anyone who gets married civilly has to sign certain legal documents arresting to the acceptance of certain legal obligations pertaining to debt, finances, etc., etc. IOW from a civil standpoint, the parties to a marriage enter into a legal contract that entails certain privileges (e.g., hospital visitation rights, beneficiary of pensions, etc.) & obligations (e.g., assumption of debts, etc.). That's what a legal contract is, by definition: an agreement that binds the parties to certain privileges & obligations. Marriage is also a religious sacrament, but the "establishment" clause forbids the govmnt from involving itself in the sacramental aspect of marriage. That is the province or religious organizations ... churches, temples, mosques, gurdwarjas, etc.

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THOMAS F HARKINS JR

January 10, 2014  7:18pm

James Cowles, I disagree with your conclusion that marriage is just a "contract" between two people. Obviously a subscription contract is not a "marriage" contract. A marriage "contract" is only something that can be entered into between two people capable of getting "married." So the question remains--what is marriage? The state can make such a determination and law--not just churches.

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  6:53pm

@ David Lloyd-Jones ... "She seems to be completely unaware of the blasphemy involved in her claim that her standards are God's standards ... " You could say the exact-same thing about most conservative evangelical Christians' remarks on marriage: they assume that everyone -- even God! -- agrees with them & their group / denomination, and that all Christian denominations are unanimous on judgments that are, in reality, purely sectarian and idiosyncratic. It's like seeing a bunch of cats, scared by the explosion of a firecracker, running around -- and nevertheless assuming all the scared cats are going in the same direction. Go figure ...

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  6:50pm

@ Thomas F. Harkins, Jr. ... "although the present Supreme Court may choose to disagree and go your way with a "fundamental right" to get married, the fact is that everyone already has a fundamental right to marry (excepting children, etc.). The whole question is, what is marriage?" From the standpoint of government and the civil law, marriage is a legal contract not essentially different from a mortgage or a contract with, say, Verizon for cell-phone service. "But what about marriage as a religious sacrament / ordinance?" you ask. My answer: that is for religious organizations to determine, based on their theological understanding of marriage. And that is a question the government has no warrant to intrude upon, because for the government to define marriage RELIGIOUSLY / THEOLOGICALLY would violate the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment because it would amount to favoring one theology of marriage over another. Important to separate civil / legal & religious.

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  6:46pm

@ James ... "Therein lies the difference between those led by the Spirit in interpreting the scriptures and those who are not. I will leave the discussion there for other believers to reflect on these comments." And therein also lies the difficulty of distinguishing between those who are "led by the Spirit" and those who are not ... a question that must have troubled the Reformers mightily, judging by the way they propagated denominations and interpretations of the Bible ... always claiming to be "led by the Spirit". I don't know of any Reformer who did not claim such, in those or similar words. So I recur to my original questions, which have still not been answered: (1) WHO'S RIGHT & (2) HOW DO YOU KNOW?

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David Lloyd-Jones

January 10, 2014  6:39pm

Evelyn writes "Funny isn't it how many permutations and combinations we can think up as to how to define things, more often than not in order to find ways of getting around the law or God's standards." She seems to be completely unaware of the blasphemy involved in her claim that her standards are God's standards and other people's interpretations of the same situations and texts are not. I wonder whether she's one of those people who thinks that "taking the Lord's name in vain" is only teecher-talk for using durty wurds. -dlj.

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THOMAS F HARKINS JR

January 10, 2014  6:09pm

James Cowles, although the present Supreme Court may choose to disagree and go your way with a "fundamental right" to get married, the fact is that everyone already has a fundamental right to marry (excepting children, etc.). The whole question is, what is marriage? Is it just any two people shacking up together? Having what some may refer to as "sex"? Or is it a fundamental union with "true" sex prospects, which prospects have the potential to bring children into the world, and then the two progenitors raising them to be productive members of society. States should have a right to decide that. The Supreme Court should recognize that right. Again, there is no "fundamental right" to "equal protection" of the law--everyone is equally protected, but to do what? That's the whole issue here. States should not be compelled to offer "marriage benefits" to persons who cannot and do not "marry." Obviously churches should not be compelled to honor such "unions" either.

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james .

January 10, 2014  4:07pm

@James Cowles. Therein lies the difference between those led by the Spirit in interpreting the scriptures and those who are not. I will leave the discussion there for other believers to reflect on these comments. As Jesus warned after telling the parable to the Sower: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophet Isaiah , 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people'a heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them' " Mat 13:13-15

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  2:35pm

@ James ... " Not only did the church then, turn to the internal and external evidence of the scriptures to guide its decisions. Just as importantly,is the church's reliance on the internal witness and authority of the Holy Spirit ... " Any of the Reformers -- the same Reformers who ended up producing dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of interpretations of the Bible, including the texts on homosexuality -- were, so they said, relying on the same "evidence of the scriptures" and "authority of the Holy Spirit" that you allude to. Yet they still ended up disagreeing, and wars were fought & blood shed over those disagreements. As for what Romans, chap. 1, says to me ... to me -- to me, and speaking on behalf of no one else -- it says that St. Paul had some real hang-ups about sexuality, much like his hang-ups about women, marriage, and the role of gender in the leadership of the Church, and inscribed those hang-ups into his biblical texts. Understandable. But we've outgrown them.

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james .

January 10, 2014  11:51am

@James Cowles. The questions you raised require more than a few words permitted for a post to answer. Similar questions have been raised centuries earlier when the church as a scattered gathering had to determine such vital issues as what should be included in/excluded from the canon of scripture, or what doctrine of the Trinity or the incarnation, or dctrine of sin and salvation, etc should be accepted as the faith once delivered to the saints as opposed to heresies emerging at the time. Not only did the church then, turn to the internal and external evidence of the scriptures to guide its decisions. Just as importantly,is the church's reliance on the internal witness and authority of the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, confirm, etc the Christian to a reliable knowledge God's truth - and still does today. Rev 2:10. "He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches". Quest. to you then : What does Romans 1:26-27 say to you about its view of homosexuality as sin?

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James Cowles

January 10, 2014  7:00am

@ James ... none of which answers my original question: Whose / which denomination's interpretation of those biblical texts is right? They can't all be right. They may all be wrong. Certain Episcopalian / Anglican, Presbyterian, & United Methodist churches -- individual churches and much of the entire denominations ... millions of Christians -- read THOSE SAME TEXTS & come to different conclusions. What makes conservative evangelicals right & them wrong? Conservative Christians assume a degree of unanimity on this issue that simply, as a matter of empirically observable fact, does not exist. Yes, atheists always point to this -- and we're amply justified in doing so. The Reformation was fought out precisely in order to allow such diverse interpretations of the Bible to exist, in order to allow Christians to disagree. Maybe the entire Reformation was a case of "Be careful what you wish for" or of "buyers' remorse".

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james .

January 10, 2014  12:25am

@JamesCowles. Read Romans 1:18-32 on the potential and as well as actual condition of depravity of the human race. Then read vs 26-28 on Paul's description of the unnatural and perverse relationship in homosexual practice. If you do not understand that description of homosexual practice as sin, you never will - and like many atheists, resort to diverse interpretations of x denominations as sources for contention.

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James Cowles

January 09, 2014  11:37pm

@ James ... "When every secular institution dare not challenge this law then the church under authority of God's word(as revealed in scripture) is called to shake the conscience of the nation ... " At last count, there were ... I forget the exact number ... but certainly well into 4 digits' worth of Christian denominations, each with its own idiosyncratic, sectarian interpretation of the Bible. In fact, gay marriage is a good example: not all denominations interpret it as sin. Whose version / interpretation of "God's word" do we use? If you say "We all agree on the essentials", I'm going to ask (a) who decides what is "essential" & what is "optional"? and (b) what is the source of their authority to do so? No one has had that authority since the 16th century, and escaping from that kind of central / unified authority to interpret "God's word" was sorta-kinda the whole point of the Reformation. Your statement presupposes the very authority the Reformers fought against.

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james .

January 09, 2014  8:26pm

@James Cowles. The church can and should oppose laws of the state that seeks to institutionalize sin, in this case, in the form of universal sanctioning of same-sex marriage. When every secular institution dare not challenge this law then the church under authority of God's word(as revealed in scripture) is called to shake the conscience of the nation by exposing this perversion- even if it must do so alone. The prophets of the old testament spoke against the sins of the nation, the early church in its stand against the anti christian practices of the Roman authorities(declaring Caesar as Lord) were in the minority , did the same and many paid dearly for it. God's truth was always tested against the assent of the majority and the prevailing authority. Should not Christians today rediscover that call and go where their faith and conscience leads them in their endeavor to honor God?

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James Cowles

January 09, 2014  7:55pm

@ James ... By the same token, the "free exercise" clause ensures that religious organizations have a sovereign right to validate or to refuse to validate gay marriage. No "marriage Gestapo" is going to break down the church doors and force the minister at gunpoint to officiate at a gay wedding. Marriage as a civil / legal contract is over HERE -- that is the domain of the govmnt, and the Church cannot interfere. Marriage as a religious sacrament is over THERE -- that is the domain of the Church, and the govmnt cannot interfere. Important to avoid confusing the 2. Separation of Church and State is a 2-way street.

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James Cowles

January 09, 2014  7:51pm

@ James ... " If the First Amendment implies liberty of conscience whereby Congress is required to not prohibit the free exercise of religion, then it does not matter whose theological reasons are given in opposing this controversial law." Yes and no ... It does not matter as long as your opposition to gay marriage REMAINS STRICTLY WITHIN THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH, so to speak. But it begins to matter a great deal when Christians venture OUTSIDE the walls of the Church and into the "public square" to advocate for laws prohibiting gay marriage BASED ONLY ON THEIR (CHRISTIANS') RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. The "establishment" clause gets the govmnt out of the religion business, because the "establishment" clause prohibits the govmnt from giving preferential treatment to any religion's beliefs. Not all Christians are opposed to gay marriage. Not all denominations are opposed to gay marriage. The "establishment" clause requires impartiality toward "pro" & "anti" by the govmnt.

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james .

January 09, 2014  2:12pm

@James Cowles. If the First Amendment implies liberty of conscience whereby Congress is required to not prohibit the free exercise of religion, then it does not matter whose theological reasons are given in opposing this controversial law. I do not see that requirement necessitating any privilege theology for evangelical Christians, if for example Muslims, Jews and certain Hindu sects say, oppose same sex marriage on their theological grounds as they make the same appeal to the First Amendment also based on their liberty of conscience.

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James Cowles

January 09, 2014  8:15am

@ Evelyn Sims ... "Funny isn't it how many permutations and combinations we can think up as to how to define things, more often than not in order to find ways of getting around the law or God's standards." Yes ... almost as funny as the regularity with which conservatives forget that (1) the fundamental law of the Nation is not "God's standards", but (2) is instead a written Constitution that makes room, equally before the law, for EVERYone's version or understanding or interpretation of what those standards are. One question conservative critics NEVER answer is this: given that there are well-into-4-digits Christian denominations, some of which recognize gay marriage & some of which don't, whose version of "God's standards" should prevail? Nobody since the Reformation has been able to tackle that question -- on gay marriage of anything else.

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Evelyn Sims

January 09, 2014  12:21am

Funny isn't it how many permutations and combinations we can think up as to how to define things, more often than not in order to find ways of getting around the law or God's standards. WE have those whose partnerships I believe don't come under the biblical definition of marriage fighting to be allowed to marry, when countless others who should and could marry, don't bother! I guess it's another facet of our society that spends millions on IVF efforts or saving younger and younger foetuses while killing others for inconvenience. Then again, many starve themselves to anorexic proportions because they have too much available to eat, while millions starve because they have nothing to eat. If ever we needed a Saviour it's today.

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James Cowles

January 08, 2014  6:44pm

@ Howard Pepper ... "But why not have ONLY churches create marriages? Only the "state" (presumably a state of the US) would create "civil unions" and NOT marry anyone." ***** YES!!!! ***** This is a refreshingly sane and impeccably constitutional idea. ***** THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO BUSINESS GETTING INVOLVED IN THE THEOLOGICAL / RELIGIOUS CHARACTER OF MARRIAGE, ANYWAY, SINCE THE "ESTABLISHMENT" CLAUSE EXPLICITLY GETS THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE RELIGION BUSINESS ***** As far as the government is concerned, ALL marriages -- both hetero and gay -- should be civil unions, because -- again, as far as the government is concerned -- marriage is a CIVIL CONTRACT not essentially different from a mortgage or a cell-phone-service contract. We don't forbid gay people from getting mortgages and cell-phone service. In fact, inter alia, the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment prohibits such discrimination. That same prohibition should apply to CIVIL marriage -- and for the very same reason.

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James Cowles

January 08, 2014  6:37pm

@ James ... "I think that if the state sanctions same-sex marriage, then the church should insist on a distinction between 2 categories viz. heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage for important practical as well as theological reasons." WHOSE "theological reasons"? Which denomination's? Which religion's? The problem with your "theological reasons" would amount to privileging one sect's theology of marriage over that of another, something that would be strictly prohibited by the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment ... probably the "free exercise" clause, also, since choosing one theology over others would make the denominations / religions that got left out 2nd-class faiths before the law. The proper distinction would be for RELIGIOUS organizations -- not the government -- to make a distinction between hetero and gay marriages, a prerogative that is the result of the "free exercise" clause. The government cannot force any church to recognize gay marriage.

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James Cowles

January 08, 2014  6:34pm

@ Gordon Payne ... "Nobody's 'fundamental right TO marry' has been violated. The PRIVILEGE to it confused with the RIGHT OF it." Not according to "Loving v. Virginia". "Loving" started out as pertaining, not to marriage in general, but to INTERRACIAL marriage. But if you read the actual "Loving" decision, you will find that, in the final 2 or 3 pages of the decision, the Court addresses the issue of marriage IN GENERAL & concludes that is is a "fundamental right". That does not mean that there can be no restrictions -- minor children cannot enter into contracts, and since marriage is a legal contract, minor kids cannot marry -- but those restrictions have to be justified by some rational basis. Theological / religious doctrine is NOT such a rational basis because of the "establishment" clause of the First Amendment. In general, marriage restrictions based on religious doctrine are facially unconstitutional for the same reason.

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gordon payne

January 08, 2014  9:36am

Nobody's 'fundamental right TO marry' has been violated. The PRIVILEGE to it confused with the RIGHT OF it. Since before the beginning of the Republic, our law has demanded that the legislature define marriage; that, respecting it, no lawyer or judge's opinion is any sounder than the ordinary citizen speaking directly or through the voice of his representative. Reinforcing the point is the heretofore settled law that marriage, the policing of it, is uniformly and universally the domain of the States, excepting jurisdictions like that involved in Reynolds v US. It's time to get adult and recognize that homosexual marriage, beyond the 'brotherly love', is an oxymoron legitimizing what sound morality has condemned since time immemorial (Hale's definition). SCOTUS is wrestling with the potential complete subversion of our Constitution and its lawful heritage, brought on by a confusion respecting compassion and license on the one hand and balanced judgment and radicalism on the other

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james .

January 07, 2014  8:24pm

I think that if the state sanctions same-sex marriage, then the church should insist on a distinction between 2 categories viz. heterosexual marriage and homosexual marriage for important practical as well as theological reasons. Churches(especially evangelical) must insist on their right to reject the latter on the basis of liberty of conscience.

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Jeff Rudloff

January 07, 2014  8:08pm

@Howard Pepper: I have been proposing something along those lines for some time. Marriage was a sacred institution long before it was a civil one. Let civil government decide for itself what relationships it will or won't sanction for political purposes - such as spousal benefits, inheritance rights, etc. - and let it "bless" those relationships in any way it chooses. But leave to the individual religious institutions responsible for performing "marriages" the right to determine who may or may not enter into them. There are and will be denominations who will gladly extend those benefits to all and sundry, but those who choose not to will not be burdened by the requirement to do so. Rest assured, the next stage of this battle will be the lawsuit against the individual church or denomination who refuses to preform such ceremonies, insisting that since the government has given them the RIGHT to marry, that no one has the right to resist.

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Black Mephistopheles

January 07, 2014  8:00pm

Ironic, that "give unto Caesar" quote: remember, it was the social issue of guarding against interracial marriage in the early 19th century, that got governments into the whole marriage regulation business. Now, military members make up the biggest group of interracial marriages in the country. As the child of a military retiree, a military veteran in my own right, and an interracial spouse, I'm certainly not saying that the trend is wrong. I mean to draw the eye to the fact that now-a-days, it's more acceptable to eject the Church from marriage, than the State.

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Matt Robertson

January 07, 2014  7:20pm

It would solve most of the initial problem, but cause an even bigger one in the process. I say "most" because even if the secular world left us alone about not extending marriage to same sex couples, there are whole denominations in the Christian sphere that think that homosexuality is not sinful. The battle would rage on, albeit on a smaller scale. Far worse is that it would create a moral climate in which all sorts of debauchery would go essentially unchecked. We, as Christians, play a role in restraining the evil of the world. Sure we aren't going to go all 1984 on the world, but it is our job to be salt and light. If we let them have civil unions and keep marriage to ourselves, then how are we salt? How are we lights in the darkness if we only keep the lights in the church? Because of this, our children will fight a battle against people who think that marriage is wrong and bigoted. Remember that Paul uses marriage as a metaphor for the relationship between us and God.

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David Stafford

January 07, 2014  6:02pm

Sounds good to me; give unto Caesar the things that are Caesars and unto God the things that are God's.

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Howard Pepper

January 07, 2014  2:52pm

I've begun floating the idea of a different approach that seems to have potential to get around many of the throny issues re. same- sex marriage in our current structure. However, I don't know what legal or legislative steps may be needed, or if it's really even viable: But why not have ONLY churches create marriages? Only the "state" (presumably a state of the US) would create "civil unions" and NOT marry anyone. Civil unions would grant all the legal status of current "marriages" and be open to all of majority age, regardless of gender. Then individual churches or denominations, not any level of civil gov't, would marry all who desire it. They could freely either include or not include same-sex partners. Doesn't this suit both our religious freedoms and our desire for equal treatment?... plus keep gov't out of debates and power (or "culture war") competition in this area! We put enough challenges on gov't as it is.

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