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The Constitution, Same Sex Marriage, Judicial Opinion, and Law

On Friday April 3, 2009 the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled that the Iowa Law that essential defined marriage as between one man and one woman unconstitutional according to the Iowa State constitution. It was indeed an historic decision, and people on both sides of the issue are very emotional about the outcome.

Being a Christian and a Libertarian there are two sides of this issue that I have to consider. The first side of the issue is figuring out how the Church can best reach out to homosexuals with the Gospel. This is what I told my congregation on Sunday:
This ruling is one more piece of evidence that we are living in a culture that has rejected traditional Christian morals, morals which have been the foundation of our culture for a very long time. We have to stop and ask ourselves: Why is the culture rejecting Christian morality? Why are 3 out of 4 Christian youth leaving the faith once they leave home? Why has church attendance dropped in this country from an average of 75 people per week in 1998 to 70 people per week in 2008? Why do 67% of Americans say that religion has lost or is losing its influence in this country?

Besides asking those questions we have to think about how we are to reach out to homosexuals. The Church has done a very poor job in this area. We have either ignored them, and hoped that they would just go away, or we have made them feel that because they were homosexuals they were going to burn in hell. This should be a wake up call for us, because we have been called to reach out to all people and help them understand that their true identity is found in Christ Jesus. We have to help them discover life, the life God created them to live, without compromising God’s Word.

This is my main concern. I want people, regardless of who they are or what they have done, to find freedom, forgiveness, love, and life by following Jesus Christ. The Church needs to build bridges rather than erect walls when it comes to these very controversial issues.

The second side, and what I want to focus on today, is the constitutional issue. Our freedoms are protected by the Constitution. From whom are our freedoms protected? Our freedoms are protected from the government by the Constitution, so it is very important that we hold the government accountable to the Constitution, whether it is at the national level or the state level. When the government ignores the Constitution what results is the loss of freedom and eventually tyranny .

Through constitutional ignorance we have allowed the government to ignore the Constitution, and the result has been that our liberties and Constitutional protections are slowly taken away from us. A great example of this constitutional ignorance at work is seen in this historic decision by the Iowa Supreme Court which called Iowa’s marriage law unconstitutional.

In light of that ruling the government agencies are racing around to change documents so that the paper work will be ready for same sex couples to marry in Iowa. People have assumed, from the governor to the legislators to the news media to the average citizen, that now the law of the State of Iowa is that marriage is either between a man and a woman or a same sex couple. The problem is that no law stating that has been passed. All that has happened is that the court has ruled on Iowa’s current marriage law, and their opinion is that the Iowa law is unconstitutional.

If we were really following the Constitution the next step that is to happen is that Congress is to review the law in question. Upon their review of the law they can do one of two things: 1) they can say they disagree with the court’s opinion and affirm that the law is indeed constitutional or 2) they can agree with the court’s opinion and make the needed changes to make it constitutional.

Yet the process doesn’t end there. If Congress follows option number 2 and makes the changes, then the governor, or the president, can either reject and veto the bill because he thinks the original law is constitutional, or he can sign the new bill into law.

Once the new bill is law, if an average citizen has a problem with it, they can take it before the Supreme Court for a review. The Court can then give their opinion on the new law. This way a law is constantly under the threat of Judicial review. A judicial opinion isn’t under that type of threat, that is why it is so important for Congress to properly respond to the Court’s opinions, our freedoms are protected when a law has the potential of being reviewed.

If Congress follows option number 1 then the law, which the court has ruled unconstitutional, can once again be thrown into the lap of the court. This can go back and forth and back and forth, but here is where we, the people, can step in. If we agree with the court that the law is unconstitutional we can vote for candidates who agree with us and promise to change the law. After all our congress people represent us. When we follow constitutional procedure the voice of the people is heard, rather than the voice of special interest groups with money to spend.

The reason that same sex marriage is becoming legal in the state of Iowa isn’t because the voice of the people was heard on the issue, but because the Iowa State Congress is too gutless to follow through with their Constitutional responsibility. Judicial Opinion is not law, it is merely a recommendation about the constitutionality of a law. A recommendation that Congress can listen to or they can affirm the constitutionality of the existing law. Either way the ball should be back in the court of Congress.

The real tragedy of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling isn’t that homosexuals are given the right to marry (if that is the will of the people then it will be law), it is that the Constitution is ignored and a legal opinion, something the people have no say in, is on its way to becoming law. Not only does it become law, but it becomes a law that cannot be challenged, because there is no actual bill that has passed legislative procedure to challenge.

There is every reason to be sadden by the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision. Don’t be sad that a small group of people were granted a right, but be saddened that we have allowed the government once again to ignore the Constitution. Remember, by ignoring the Constitution the government cannot only grant rights, they can also take your rights away.

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” ~ James Madison

* From now on I will not use marriage in relation to same sex unions. A union can only be called a marriage if it is recognized by God as such, and same sex unions aren't marriages in God's sight, regardless of what the State wants to call them.


Susan Snyder said…
Great Commentary! Exactly right! We are slowly because of fear, ignorance, complacency, whatever becoming something our forefathers would not recognize. I think several of us will wake up some day when it is too late and say, "Hey whatever happened to America? Did I miss something?" Most frustrating.

Susan Snyder
Paul said…
Thanks Susan for your comment. I agree, the time is coming when people suddenly realize that the country they thought they lived in, is no longer the country they live in.

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