Handwriting on the wall for gay marriage (ANALYSIS)

RNS-PROP8-DECISIONBy RICHARD WOLF
c. 2014 USA Today

WASHINGTON (RNS) The Supreme Court will decide whether to allow same-sex marriage nationwide later this year. But it’s leaving little doubt which way it’s leaning.

The latest evidence came Monday (Feb. 9) when the high court denied Alabama’s request to block gay marriages while the state appeals a federal judge’s ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to wed.

That was the same decision the justices reached in Florida two months ago, allowing the Sunshine State to become the 36th in the nation where same-sex marriage is legal. Alabama now becomes the 37th.

But things were different last year, when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked gay marriages in Utah in January, and in Virginia in August, while the legal issue played out. Why the change?

The turning point came in October, when the court allowed federal appeals court decisions legalizing same-sex marriage to go unchallenged in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Indiana. The justices could have intervened and scheduled one or more of those cases for argument. Instead, they stood aside.

Since then, all indications are that at least five justices are prepared to rule once and for all that the Constitution does not permit states to ban gays and lesbians from marrying.

When they agreed to hear cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee later this year, it was because the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over those four states had gone the other way and blocked same-sex marriages.

With more than 70 percent of the U.S. population now living in states where gay marriage is legal — including all of the nation’s most populous states but Texas, where a similar decision allowing same-sex marriage is on appeal — the high court appears to have turned the corner. It intervenes when gay marriages are blocked —  not when they are allowed.

Does that mean the court already has decided the Midwest states’ case? No. That would be “indecorous,” a phrase used by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia to describe the court’s decision Monday.

And certainly, the vote count isn’t clear from the Alabama and Florida rulings allowing gay marriages to go forward, even though Thomas and Scalia were the only ones to write dissents. The court does not release its votes when it rules on so-called stay applications, so the votes of other justices remain unknown.

But make no mistake: If the justices thought there was a good chance they would rule against same-sex marriage in the upcoming cases involving Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, they likely would stop couples from marrying elsewhere.

In his dissent Monday, Thomas acknowledged as much. “In this case, the court refuses even to grant a temporary stay when it will resolve the issue at hand in several months,” he said.

“This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the court’s intended resolution of that question.”

Religion News Service

RNS is owned by Religion News LLC, a non-profit, limited liability corporation based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Its mission is to provide in-depth, non-sectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas.

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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Wes Andrews
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Wes Andrews

TD it is much more just for us to follow Scripture than to follow culture. The nature of culture is to exploit, control and oppress.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

My Dear Friend Gary, so now that you have gotten the last word, then the same fallacy you mentioned applies to you. I claim no shamanhood myself. I’m just a poor boy from a poor family who stands with the oppressed. I do not believe Jesus Christ, when he utters the last word of which you speak, approves of oppression.

ryan
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ryan

George we should surely all agree that what sets people free is not marriage, or the lack of marriage. It is not food, nor shelter, nor liberal nor conservative government. What sets people free is Jesus! There is NO other name under heaven by which men and women must be saved! We surely should agree that we want people to come to faith in Jesus as He and He alone is the way, the life, and the truth! So lets focus on introducing people to Jesus and let us all attempt to stand on these matters of morality where Jesus… Read more »

Gary Bebop
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Gary Bebop

The “chronological fallacy” (as C. S. Lewis described it) is to attribute authority to the latest novelty and regard as rubbish the wisdom of the past. It’s a little like “George” on this forum, who apparently tries to be the last word on every subject because that is his sole claim to speak as our shaman. George will eventually discover that Jesus Christ has the last word; in fact, he is the first and last word on any subject. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Mark
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Mark

Exactly right, Gary. A close reading of the Bible does not lead one to necessarily conclude any of the things Sandy Wylie suggests. The idea that the Bible is an anachronistic relic of the past that must be radically reinterpreted or discarded is simply a straw man argument based in prejudice or ignorance. The same legal logic used to justify marriage redefinition will eventually be used to allow any set of consenting adults to enter in a legal arrangement and call it “marriage.” What’s so ironic is that many of the 60’s hippie types arguing so vehemently for same-sex “marriage”… Read more »

George Nixon Shuler
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That would be a logical error of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Kevin
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Kevin

Exactly, TD. It is no more complicated than that.

Sandy Wylie
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Heraclitus said that no person can ever step into the same river twice. Our world and our human understanding are continually evolving. (1) When it became accepted that Copernicus and Galileo were right, reasonable Christians conceded that our solar system is different from what the writers of the Bible had thought. (2) When modern medicine uncovered the mysteries of fertility, reasonable Christians conceded that women aren’t necessarily the cause of infertility and aren’t the objects of God’s disapproval as the writers of the Bible had thought. (3) When it finally dawned on people that slavery was wrong, reasonable Christians conceded… Read more »

George Nixon Shuler
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Sandy, thanks for a billiant, well-written post.

When the atavists say “Marriage has always been between a man and a woman,” they argue in bad faith, because marriage of today is nothing like it was in Chrst’s time, Abraham’s time, or even Luther’s time. And if we go back before that to the ancient matriarchical tribes…well, the whole assertion is just a pretense. The same people get mad when we say Christians massacred First nations people and enslaved African-Americans, including AFTER the 15th Amendment in the form a chain gangs leased out to mines and such.

Wes Andrews
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Wes Andrews

Sandy, you seem to know very little about the Scripture other than the misinformation that others have taught you. 1. The Bible does NOT claim that the Sun revolves around the earth. Scholars who trust in the authority of Scripture do NOT see any evidence that this is claimed in Scripture. This false accusation only comes from cynics who claim knowledge, but are more ruled by their cynicism. 2. & 4. The prescriptions in Scripture to respect women go against ancient (and modern) culture that treats women as objects. The Bible overwhelmingly lifts up the value of women. People who… Read more »

Scott Collier
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Scott Collier

The UMC is so full of hatred and bigotry it will be a wonderful day when we witness the breakup and the dividing of property and assets all over the issue of “love”.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

We certainly do have a generous share of right-wing extremists who claim the title of United Methodists, don’t we?

ryan
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ryan

how do you define ‘right-wing extremists’? It seems an unfair label for anyone I have seen post comments here, but maybe my definition does not correspond to yours.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

My friend, sorry to sink your boat, but as Inigo Montoya says “That does not mean what you think it means.” The Hebrew culture was one of storytelling and while not formally educated, like his fellows, Jesus did not believe the myth of Eve and the snake was literally true but instead referred to it for its mitzvah, He was simply using a marriage as a metaphor, not unlike how the movie director John Ford used a fey, draft-dodging thespian known for his fondness for wearing shorty-shorts, ascots, and sipping wine with his pinkie extended who went by the nom… Read more »

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

It’s no spin. You have no way of knowing what “God’s design” is other than your intense desire to be politically correct. You will never sink my faith in the real Jesus, the one in whose name the manipulators express their hatred and the manipulated execute it (and quite literally when one considers the fate of such as Billy Jack Gaither and Gwen Aruajo).

ryan
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ryan

George, but we do have a way to know God’s design. God has revealed Himself to us through His Word. The Bible tells us of God’s design for our lives. Ultimately, and most completely God speaks of His design for our lives and this world in His Son Jesus.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

The road to a culture where people are respected is always full of bumps and roadblocks, but once the states began to practice it with regard to marriage equality, it’s been a surprisingly flat landscape with only minor twists and turns. The premier political Huckster of The Heart of Dixie, the disgraced Judge Roy Moore, was already removed once from his bench for his misconduct was then unwisely returned to it by an uninformed electorate, and now his latest bout of showmanship [claiming to possess authoriteh to supercede federal judicial procedure based on his loudness, it seems] will most likely… Read more »

ryan
Guest
ryan

It would seem to me that there is a profound difference between respecting all persons and accepting their truth claims as equally valid. If you desire all persons in the US to be treated with respect, I would agree very vociferously with you upon that point. If you are saying that Americans should accept the truth claims that marriage is not an institution of God, but a civil contract that is defined not by the desires of the government (the people), but by the judiciary, then upon that point we do not find agreement. The theoretical difference here is that… Read more »

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