Same sex marriage is already illegal in North Carolina.
Even so, declaring themselves terrified that the courts may undo what the legislature hath wrought, the Republican-dominated North Carolina General Assembly imposed a May 8 referendum on whether to embed that stricture in the state constitution.
The image is rich in irony. Writing at Baptists Today, contributing editor Tony Cartledge notes:
Anyone who pays the least bit of attention has to be aware that the biggest threats to heterosexual marriage are the people who participate in them. People change. People make mistakes. People grow in different directions. People fail to communicate effectively. Heterosexual marriages end in divorce with uncomfortable frequency, but almost always with no assistance whatsoever from the possibility that the courts might one day overturn the state’s existing law against gay marriage.
A letter signed by hundreds of North Carolina faith leaders asserts that opposition to the amendment is as a matter of faith:
As people of faith, clergy and leaders in our faith traditions, we are mandated by God to demonstrate and protect love in all its forms and to stand for justice for all creation.
Supporters of the amendment, like Daniel L. Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, say the opposite. Writing in the same magazine with the crosshairs image, he argues:
The Bible defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman in a monogamous covenant relationship intended to last for life.
Christians can first of all model what a healthy marriage looks like following the principles of Scripture. Again, we have often failed in this area and I believe that is one reason why we have so much confusion today with respect to marriage. In addition, Christians can take public stands and vote their conscience in seeking to promote the kind of marriages that are reflective in biblical truth. Christians should go to the ballot box with biblical principles and truth.
Whatever your view of marriage, if this amendment fails, same sex marriage will still be illegal in North Carolina and the status of marriage itself will not have been altered. Marriage isn’t in the crosshairs on May 8.
Soon to be radio showless but voice unlowered, Albert Mohler, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, finds that besieged, failing and for-sale Newsweek has begun the culture war to end marriage. Just like that. Mohler wrote:
The Newsweek article represents what may be the most direct journalistic attack on marriage in our times. Though only an op-ed column, it presents arguments that had to date been made largely, if not exclusively, outside of mainstream circles. Consider this column an opening salvo in a battle to finish marriage off, once and for all.
“I Don’t” is, however, still just a well-written op ed in an increasingly obscure and endangered magazine.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Montana election law was unconstitutionally applied to an East Helena church which supported a 2004 ballot initiative to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Howard M. Friedman explains that Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church “advertised and hosted a one-time screening of a video in support of the amendment and made petitions available in its foyer for signing.”
Reversing a lower court decision, 9th Circuit ruled that “disclosure and reporting requirements are unconstitutional as applied to the Church’s de minimis activities,” violating the church’s right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment.
Circuit Judge John T. Noonan, in a concurring opinion, argued that the matter should have been decided on freedom of religion grounds:
“What has happened here is that a small congregation has been put to trouble and expense in order to exercise its right to speak on an issue seen by it to be of vital religious significance. One lesson of history is that small incursions on freedom are to be resisted lest they grow greater,” Noonan wrote.
This is an Alliance Defense Fund case and, because it tends to erode a previously defined boundary between church and political activity, a signal that the already contentious issue of religion in politics is destined to become more so.
Walk a do-unto-others mile in Tom Ackerman’s shoes.
I no longer recognize marriage. It’s a new thing I’m trying.
Turns out it’s fun.
Yesterday I called a woman’s spouse her boyfriend.
She says, correcting me, “He’s my husband,”
“Oh,” I say, “I no longer recognize marriage.”
The impact is obvious. I tried it on a man who has been in a relationship for years,
“How’s your longtime companion, Jill?”
“She’s my wife!”
“Yeah, well, my beliefs don’t recognize marriage.”
Fun. And instant, eyebrow-raising recognition. Suddenly the majority gets to feel what the minority feels. In a moment they feel what it’s like to have their relationship downgraded, and to have a much taken-for-granted right called into question because of another’s beliefs.
Just replace the words husband, wife, spouse, or fiancé with boyfriend, girlfriend, special friend, or longtime companion. There is a reason we needed stronger words for more serious relationships. We know it; now they can see it.
Andrew Sullivan responds:
I don’t think any heterosexual in America has really ever questioned his or her right to marry – or the expectation of social status it brings with it. This thought experiment helps jolt the mind into seeing the world through the other’s eyes. Which is rarely a bad thing.
Are you ready for that?