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Hey Supreme Court, stick to your job!

04 July 2015

I've been over this. I've talked about why it's not "okay" for Mormons to support gay marriage. I've outlined how those members who support for gay marriage can only do so by attacking the foundation of the Church. The Church has been unequivocal about it, and we'll be hearing another letter from the Brethren in the coming weeks.

And to tell the truth, I think that's about all we need to address on this issue-- at least when it comes to the moral perspective of Church members. Those who build their foundation upon the Christ and His Church will continue to stand for marriage as God defines it and cling to His voice. And those who decorate their profile pictures with rainbows while complaining that the Church leadership is "just out of touch on this issue" are prone to drift further and further away from the iron rod and toward apostasy.

But as upsetting as the moral aspect of the Supreme Court ruling last week is, I'm far more concerned about the civic aspect-- how we got in this situation. Being Independence Day weekend, this is especially poignant. See, I was under the impression that the federal government was supposed to work like this (and I don't think my interpretation is too far off because the Constitution and government websites seem to agree with me on what each piece is supposed to do):
  • The Legislative Branch, representing the voice of the people, makes laws.
  • The Executive Branch enforces the laws and leads the military.
  • The Judicial Branch interprets the Constitution and presides in legal proceedings.
So, as I understand it, every case that comes before the Supreme Court has this question implicitly attached: "Does the Constitution or federal law say anything about this?" Which means Supreme Court Justices actually have a pretty sweet gig. Their entire job in cases like this is to:
  1. Listen to the issue.
  2. Check the Constitution and existing federal law for anything that talks about the issue at hand.
  3. If there is something there, issue a ruling consistent with what the Constitution and laws say.
  4. Otherwise, tell everyone there is no law about it, so if they want a decision, it will have to come in the form of a law from Congress.
Rinse, lather, and repeat.
To test this out, I performed a highly complex simulation. I went to the Constitution online, right clicked, hit "Find on page" and started searching. To my shock I discovered that the words "gay, homosexual, marry, marriage, and love" are not found anywhere in the Constitution. 

If this issue had been handled the correct way, there would have been a ruling saying, "The Constitution is silent on this issue." That's their job description. Nothing else.

Shortly thereafter, there would have been a bill on the docket of Congress about changing the definition of marriage. There would have been discussion, debate, and discourse while we as a nation figured it out. There would have been protests. People would have called their Congressmen to voice their ideas. When all was said and done, the voice of the people would have been made law. 

But instead, 5 Supreme Court Justices sat down and said, "we can't trust the American people to decide this complex moral issue on their own." So they took the Constitution, ran it through a few iterations of Google Translate telephone, squinted really hard at, and decided that the authors of the 14th amendment in the 1860s intended for it to be a mandate that all states must perform and honor same sex marriages, regardless of the will of the people. 

Note that even if the court had ruled that the Constitution somehow declared marriage to be between one man and one woman, that still would have been a lie. The Supreme Court is supposed to rule on what the law says-- not skirt around democracy by ruling on what they think the law ought to say. And the idea that 5 people can arbitrarily decide that their opinion must be law is scary. It's scary to Christians. It's scary to me. And it ought to be scary to every American citizen. 

I highly recommend everyone read the dissenting opinions written by the four minority judges here. Here's a sobering clip:
Our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition. Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage. 
Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening.
Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law... 
If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. 
But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.
-- Justice John Roberts 
I know the gay rights activists out there are busy this Independence Day weekend waving their rainbow banners and spitting on priests, but I hope that they will stop for a moment and wish. Wish that they had won by the voice of the people. Wish that they their victory had been gained fair and square, playing by the rules. Wish that liberty had been their ally in this fight, and not an annoying obstacle to dodge.

Enjoy the fireworks tonight. And remember that there was once a day when men fought and died for the opportunity to govern themselves instead of being controlled by an all-powerful group of robed, un-elected dictators.

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