|Marriage Week at Family Research Council|
TONY PERKINS -- FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL
Politicians in other states may roll over and play dead as the federal courts trample their laws, but not Alabama! There's an organized resistance developing in the Deep South, and it might just be the turning point on marriage that many Americans have been waiting for.
Late last night, Alabama's Chief Justice Roy Moore began rallying state probate judges under his jurisdiction with a 27-page order drawing a line at the courthouse door over same-sex "marriage." "Effective immediately," Moore said in a warning shot across the state, "no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with the Alabama Constitution."
The memo, which hit the wire a little after 8:00 p.m. Sunday, paved the way for a national showdown between Alabama and the federal courts. While the Left scoffed Moore's influence, the Chief Justice was quietly gaining momentum. Liberals like the ACLU's Susan Watson told reporters yesterday that she doubted Moore's order would hold water: "I don't think the probate judges in Alabama are going to defy a federal judge's order."
Think again. Minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court gave the green light to issue wedding licenses in Alabama, most probate offices started turning down license requests. From Marshall, Franklin, and Lawrence Counties to Jackson, Tuscaloosa, and Dekalb Counties, dozens of judges sent couples home empty handed. Caught between the state's courts and a federal judge, most offices are issuing their own stay.
In Limestone County, workers wouldn't budge. After the doors opened at 8:30 a.m., Probate Judge Hardy McCollum invited the contingent of media and locals into his office and explained, "The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court gave some direct orders to the probate offices that we should not and are not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. He being the chief administrative and judicial officer for the state of Alabama, we are held to his order and we're going to comply with his order."
A similar scenario played out in Elmore County, where notices were hung on office doors explaining, "This policy of not issuing same-sex marriage licenses will remain in effect pending further instructions to the contrary..." Elmore's probate judge, John Enslen, left little doubt where he stood on the issue, taking a courageous stand -- even if it costs him his job. "I will never perform a so-called same-sex marriage," he wrote. "A federal court can put me in jail for life, and I will still never perform a so-called same-sex marriage. As a believer in the Word of God... I cannot in good conscience participate in a purported marriage ceremony which I strongly believe would profane the sacred institution of marriage."
Before people could accuse Elmore of ill-will toward homosexuals, the judge made it clear: "This is not about hating people. Each of us needs to treat every other human being with dignity and respect, regardless of our diametrically opposing viewpoints on this divisive issue. But tolerance is a two-way street. Either there is tolerance for all or there is tolerance for none. I want tolerance for my personal religious viewpoint."
Religious liberty has taken such a beating lately that it almost comes as a surprise when the idea is actually affirmed! The 6th Circuit Court did exactly that late last week in a ruling over the hiring rights of Christian organizations. Like most religious groups, InterVarsity asks employees to agree with a statement of faith, which includes key doctrinal beliefs like marriage.
When a ministry staffer was considering a divorce, administrators put her on paid leave and encouraged her to reconcile. Ultimately, the organization made the difficult decision to relieve her of her role as a Spiritual Director. "We have a long track record of valuing the role of women in Christian ministry. this situation, InterVarsity believes it made every effort to resolve differences in perspective with appropriate grace and respect." She sued for employment discrimination.
Although InterVarsity isn't a church, judges agreed that faith-based organizations had the same rights. "It is undisputed that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is a Christian organization, whose purpose is to advance the understanding and practice of Christianity in colleges and universities. It is therefore a 'religious group' under the Supreme Court's Hosanna-Tabor ruling," the court stated.
For religious groups, which are under incredible scrutiny in this brave new world of political correctness, this is a significant victory. It not only affirms the right of employers to set their own standards in personnel decisions but it keeps the long arm of the government from meddling where it doesn't belong: in the decision-making of faith-based groups.
Regardless of what the Left would argue, the government does not have special power over religious organizations -- not in hiring decisions, not in firing decisions, and not in setting the criteria that decides either. Whether it's marriage or any other church teaching, Christians should be able to operate by their moral principles. Now, it's time for the courts to recognize that same principle for Christian business owners too, recognizing that the First Amendment doesn't end where the workplace begins!
It may be National Marriage Week, but America needs a national marriage year! With Valentine's Day just around the corner, fewer people may be popping the question than ever, researchers say. Marriage rates have been on a steady decline, data shows. Over the past 50 years, married households have dropped from a high of 72% in 1960 to just half of all homes today.
Although marriage is still booming with college-educated couples, only 48% of Americans without degrees tied the knot -- leaving a huge gap, experts say, in wealth. Of course, that's the irony. The problems of marriage and money are directly related. Marriage itself -- the commitment, the sense of responsibility -- is what makes people work harder, be more productive, save more, etc.
There have been plenty of other articles pointing out that people increasingly see marriage as a reward for economic success. Instead, it should be seen as the foundation of it. As FRC's MARRI team will tell you: "Our economic growth is and will continue to be a fraction of that of the pre-1960s era because of the breakdown in marriage... Married families are the essential contributors to the wealth generation. Their income and savings immediately translate into revenue for government and capital for the economy... Because we need a society of savers and investors, we need a society of stable, married families."
One of the problems is the decline of the belief that marriage is the only acceptable gateway to sex, so it's almost inevitable that we've seen a decline in marriage. If men, in particular, can get sex from women without having to offer the commitment involved in marriage in return, a lot of them will do so!
But note the hypocrisy of the educated elites. They're the ones who have publicized and popularized the notion of free love and denigrated the necessity of marriage -- but they don't practice what they preach, instead continuing to marry. The lower classes, on the other hand, have believed what they were told by these elites, and choose cohabitation and serial casual relationships over marriage -- and they are the ones paying the price.
If there is a silver lining, it's that Americans still want to marry. In 2013, only 5% of people said they didn't want to tie the knot. Let's hope that spurs a greater conversation about natural marriage's importance -- not just to individuals, but to society as a whole.