Passions are running high ahead of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on gay marriage, with religious leaders pleading for the justices to steer clear of a ruling that could legalize the unions nationwide.
Faith2Action President Janet Porter and more than a dozen pro-family leaders took to the steps of the high court on Monday morning, the day before the justices were to begin considering the legality of gay marriage bans in several states.
The advocates stood behind a makeshift wall of empty cardboard filing boxes — 60 in all — that they said were there to “symbolically” represent the 300,000 restraining orders Porter said will be delivered to the Supreme Court and to Congress to keep the justices from ruling on gay marriage.
“We have appealed to Congress to restrain the judges, and the good news is Congress has heard our cry,” Porter said.
Last week, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) introduced the Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015, which would remove jurisdiction from the federal courts to rule on gay marriage. In the Senate, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Texas) has introduced the Protect Marriage from the Courts Act, which would also limit the federal courts’ jurisdiction to consider same-sex marriage cases.
Cruz, who is running for president, said marriage should be left up to the states.
“The union of a man and a woman has been the building block of society since the dawn of history, and the people in numerous states have repeatedly affirmed that truth in their laws,” he said in a statement last week. “Nothing in the Constitution prohibits that.”
At Monday’s rally, Scott Lively, president of Abiding Truth Ministries, criticized Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan for having officiated same-sex weddings and said he’s filing a motion to have them recused from this week’s case.
“Justices Ginsburg and Kagan, knowing full well that unique legal issues regarding the definition of marriage would soon come before them, deliberately officiated at so-called homosexual wedding ceremonies creating not merely the appearance of bias, but an actual and blatant conflict of interest,” he said. “In my personal view they have committed an unparalleled breach of judicial ethics by elevating the importance of their own favored political cause of gay rights above the integrity of the court and of our nation.”
Lively said Kagan and Ginsburg’s “vividly demonstrated disposition” in favor of same-sex couples shows that they are unable to render a fair judgment.
The case before the court, Obergefell v. Hodges, stems from a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. The court has grouped the appeals from several couples into two and a half hours of arguments Tuesday morning, 90 minutes more than the court typically allows.
In their rulings, the justices will seek to answer whether states are required to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and whether states have to recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states under the 14th Amendment.
Supporters of gay marriage have compared their fight for marriage equality to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but Pastor Charles Flowers, of Faith Outreach, said there is no comparison between the two.
“The Dred Scott decision of 1857 forbid minority people, mainly black people, from ever participating as citizens of the United States, such has never been the case with the homosexual, the lesbian or the gender confused,” he said. “The black codes of 1865 and ’66 restricted the movement of minorities, confining them to low-wage jobs and slave conditions. Such has never happened to those involved in the [gay] agenda.”
Stephanie Jones and her wife, Diana Iwanski, of Clermont, Fla., stood near the back of the crowd during the event and called Flowers’s statements “intellectually dishonest.”
“They’re not taking into consideration the thousands of LGBT folks who are hung, beaten and subjected to hate crimes,” she said. “We’ll start with Matthew Shepard and go forward.”
Shepard was a 21-year-old gay student at the University of Wyoming who was kidnapped and beaten to death in October 1998.
“I find the intellectual dishonesty extremely unnerving,” said Jones, who married Iwanski in California in 2008.
“I’m not asking anyone’s religion to accept me,” she said. “I’m not asking their church to marry me.”
Jones and Iwanski weren’t the only gay rights advocates on hand for Monday’s rally. Larry Sternbane, of D.C., held a sign that read, “Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get gay married.”
“This right here is the last gasp of a group that is losing this issue in the public square,” he said. “They are talking to themselves. There are a bunch of tourists listening and the only ones clapping when somebody ends is them.”
“This is a civil rights issue for us,” he said.