Same-sex marriage in N.C. draws response
    October 14 2014 by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor

    On Oct. 6, United States Supreme Court justices denied review of decisions by three federal appeals courts’ overturning state laws that prohibited same-sex marriage. This refusal meant the state’s lower-court’s rulings are thereby lawfully binding.
     
    Prior to this denial, 19 states and the District of Columbia legalized same-sex marriage; now, it could be on a trajectory to become law in 35 states.
     
    In Asheville, U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn overturned Oct. 10 the constitutional amendment that recognized marriage between one man and one woman. This ruling came days after the high court’s denial of review.
     
    Before closing on Monday, Oct. 13, Wake County issued approximately 90 licenses. Some county register of deeds offices stayed open after 5 p.m. on Friday to issue these licenses, and even on Columbus Day, county offices accommodated couples that showed up for a marriage license.
     
    According to WRAL, Senate president pro tempore, Phil Berger, and house speaker, Thom Tillis, said in a joint statement Oct. 10 they would continue to fight for the voters who approved the marriage amendment.
     
    They said, "While we recognize the tremendous passion on all sides of this issue, we promised to defend the will of North Carolina voters, because they – not judges and not politicians – define marriage as between one man and one woman and placed that in our state constitution.”
     
    Because of a 2013 vote by state lawmakers, Tillis and Berger have authority to defend the state's marriage ban because the vote gave such leaders equal standing to state attorney general Roy Cooper.
     
    Cogburn disagreed and wrote in an opinion that they have no legal standing to defend state law.
     
    “Unless and until the U.S. Supreme Court has made a final ruling on North Carolina’s Marriage Amendment, which it hasn’t, we have a chance of success,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of N.C. Values Coalition.
     
    She said, “There are two more federal lawsuits against our marriage amendment pending in federal court in Greensboro.  The judge in those two cases issued an order on Friday [Oct. 10] that leaves us room for hope, but now we must depend on Attorney General Roy Cooper to allow the Marriage Amendment to have its day in court.”
     
    Cooper has been on record expressing that he would not defend the marriage amendment prohibiting gay marriage.
     
    Lt. Governor of North Carolina, Dan Forest, said in a release, “The courts have essentially stated that a man ‘marrying’ another man, or a woman another woman, is rooted in our nation’s traditions and history, inferring that states have no interest in the preservation of marriage as an exclusive union between a man and a woman. This strains credulity.”
     
    Mark Creech voiced that the justices’ decision is a form of oligarchy, “an oligarchy that by overturning the will of the people on marriage is setting the stage for attacks on our most cherished freedoms such as religious liberty, freedom of speech and property rights.”
     
    Creech, who is executive director of Christian Action League of North Carolina, said churches must do a better job at articulating a biblical view of marriage. “May it be proclaimed from the roof tops: Marriage belongs to God. It is a right of mankind defined and graciously granted from Him. Church and state are but its stewards. Therefore, government must know, citizens must understand, and churches must declare that when a nation infringes upon God’s rights, they are subject to lose their own,” he said.
     
    Since Sunday, Oct. 13, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has emailed updated marriage forms to county registers of deeds along with instructions. These forms are gender-neutral in language, revising the older forms reserved for "Groom" and "Bride." The new forms instead say "Applicant 1" and “Applicant 2.”
     
    In some appeals courts, marriage defenders can win, argued Ryan Anderson, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. In a Baptist Press release, Anderson explained that an ongoing defense of marriage should include:

    • Explaining to Americans the meaning of marriage and why it is important to the government.

    • Urging the protection of religious freedom and liberty of conscience for individuals and organizations that disagree with same-sex marriage.

    • Asserting a view of government that enables citizens and elected representatives, not judges, to make policies.

    • Taking the “long view” of advocating for marriage “even if law and culture grow increasingly hostile.”

    Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), expressed his disappointment about the ruling and its effects. He said that he would continue affirming covenantal heterosexual marriage without apology.
     
    “I also love each and every person regardless of his or her lifestyle choices, and I am unequivocally against any expression of hatred or anger toward any individuals. As one whose hope is in King Jesus, I will proclaim His gospel in love and extend His transforming grace to others – grace that meets us where we are, but incredibly does not leave us there,” he said.
     
    Dan Heimbach, senior professor of Christian ethics at SEBTS believes the Supreme Court could have settled the matter of redefining marriage. He said, “…by failing to act in the face of this audacious challenge, our Supreme Court has demonstrated enormous irresponsibility and an amazing lack of fortitude.”
     
    Heimbach, who served on President George H. W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council, said the court “…could have settled the present crisis by reaffirming what the original language of the U.S. Constitution makes clear, which is that marriage law is not a federal matter but is reserved to the states, and also because they easily could have reaffirmed what federal courts have always affirmed until now, which is that the framers of the U.S. Constitution never included, and never intended to include, a right giving anyone power to redefine the meaning, nature and structure of marriage as a social institution.
     
    “What we have witnessed in recent days shakes the ground on which the common life of society depends,” Heimbach said. “Nothing can ever threaten the Kingdom of God, but these actions do harm the stability and eventual survival of the United States. My future is secure in Christ but I fear for my country.”

    10/14/2014 10:34:03 AM by Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: North Carolina, politics, same-sex marriage




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