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Hollingsworth v. Perry (formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger):
California lawsuit challenging constitutionality of Prop. 8

2013- FEB/MAR: Unusual Interpretation of the
lawsuit by the the National Organization for
Marriage
(NOM). NOM organizes march.

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This topic is continued from a previous essay.

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In this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for "same-sex marriage."

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2013-FEB-21: Unusual interpretation of the Prop. 8 case by the President of the National Organization for Marriage:

Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), wrote a curious entry in the NOM BLOG. It began:

"In just a few weeks, the Supreme Court will consider whether or not to impose gay marriage on the entire country. That's right — marriage in all 50 states hangs in the balance!" 1

A casual observer who is unfamiliar with the concept of same-sex marriage and marriage equality might possibly interpret these words as implying that the U.S. Supreme Court may change the definition of marriage so that only same-sex couples will be able to marry anywhere in the U.S. The other approximately 284 million Americans -- the 90% of the population who are adult heterosexuals or who are children who will discover later in life that they are heterosexual -- could then only have their relationship recognized as between "legal strangers" -- as roommates without the status, benefits and protections of marriage for themselves and their children. That would be one radical move!

Fortunately, Brown later clarified his position. He wrote:

"Nine Justices will soon rule on whether or not our core civil right to vote for God's vision of marriage will be upheld — and, in California, restored." 1

It becomes clear that Brown is discussing citizen initiatives to define marriage, including Proposition 8 in California during 2008 and possible future citizen initiatives in other states.

What is God's vision of marriage to which Brown referred? The Bible, referred to as "God's Word" by many conservative Christian denominations described two main types of marriages:

  • Consensual opposite-sex marriages as in Genesis 2:24, and

  • Levirate marriages where a widow who had not borne a son with her late husband was forced by custom to marry her brother-in-law and bear a son who would be credited to her late husband. 2

Levirate marriages could prove to be happy ones, or might involve endless serial rapes. In those days, the status of women was only slightly above that of slaves; only the wishes of men were valued.

There were also six other marriage types, two of which were between a soldier and a female prisoner of war, or between a rapist and the woman he had raped. Again, these could turn out to be happy marriages, but would more likely involve endless series of rapes.

Among the remaining four marriage types, there were polygynous marriages -- a form of polygamy between one man and multiple women. A supreme example of this was Solomon who had 700 wives and a few hundred concubines.

I suppose that it is theoretically possible that voters in some state might raise a citizen initiative to redefine marriage to include one of these seven unusual but biblical marriage types. However, it seems extremely unlikely. Many Christian clergy overlook almost all of the marriage types mentioned above and refer to consensual opposite-sex marriages as the only form of marriage mentioned in the Bible.

Brown's reference to California finally makes his point clearer: This is a special case where:

  • The state Supreme Court legalized marriage in 2008-MAY.

  • Tens of thousands of lesbians, gays and bisexuals in loving committed relationships got married to their same-sex spouses.

  • Proposition 8 -- a citizen initiative -- very narrowly vetoed future same-sex marriages on 2008-NOV.

  • A lawsuit, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. was launched to have Prop. 8 declared unconstitutional and restore marriage equality to California.

  • Prop 8 was declared unconstitutional in federal District Court and by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • After undergoing a name change to Hollingsworth v. Perry the case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. They are scheduled to hear oral arguments in late 2013-MAR, and are expected to make a final ruling on Prop 8's constitutionality in 2013-JUN.

Brian Brown appears to have misunderstood the scope of the California lawsuit. It has been very narrowly focused by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals so that their ruling does not apply to all 50 states and the District of Columbia as Brown implied. Their decision only applies to those states in which their courts or legislature had legalized SSM, and a subsequent citizen initiative had banned SSM. Only two states: California and Maine meet these qualifications. Of these two states, Maine doesn't even count because on election day in 2012-NOV, Maine voters repealed an earlier initiative and made SSMs available once more in that state. Some Amicus Curiae (legal briefs) filed with the Court have suggested widening the scope of the case to involve all 9 states where civil unions have been created or even to all 50 states as NOM fears. However the highest court generally maintains a restricted scope in its decisions.

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National Organization for Marriage (NOM) organizes March For Marriage:

The March for Marriage coalition -- composed of the National Organization for Marriage; Family Research Council; Human Life International; the Manhattan Declaration; CatholicVote; the American Principles Project; ActRight; Concerned Women for America; C-FAM; The Ruth Institute, and NOM-Rhode Island -- is organizing a march against marriage for same-sex couples on 2013-MAR-26. It begins at 8:30 AM at the National Mall where "... thousands of other decent, loving, law-abiding citizens who care about ... " preventing same-sex couples from being allowed to marry will gather. At 9:30. the group will march together to the U.S. Supreme Court and back to the Mall for a rally.

Among the speakers will be Roman Catholic "... Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop George McKinney of the Church of God in Christ, Jennifer Roback Morse, and Rev. Bill Owens Sr. 1

President of NOM, Brian Brown stated:

"This year, you have a chance to be part of history — because we are not waiting for the Supreme Court to trample on marriage or our rights to vote for marriage before taking action!" 1

He asks that people who want to prevent same-sex couples to marry:

"... pray that God will un-harden the hearts of the Supreme Court this March 26th and 27th as they listen to the argument on marriage."

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Reference used:

The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. Brian Brown, "Our Time Is Now! NOM Marriage News," National Organization for Marriage, 2013-FEB-21, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
  2. "51 Bible Verses about Levirate Marriage," Open Bible, 2001, at: http://www.openbible.info/

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Site navigation:

Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > California > Prop 8 > here

Copyright ©2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2013-FEB-24
Latest update: 2013-MAR-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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