On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court reached a decision in the Obergefell v Hodges case. The Court ruled 5-4 that the US Constitution guarantees a right for homosexual couples to marry. Rainbow flags flew across city streets and social media sites as gay marriage advocates celebrated their landmark victory. Believers in traditional marriage are already being told to keep their “bigoted, homophobic” views to themselves because the issue is now settled once and for all. What happens now for Catholics? How can we share the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality in our Post-Obergefell society? The Ave Maria Radio team has created this resource page to help you understand the issues and present them in a loving and effective way.
History of the Gay Rights Movement in America
The first documented gay rights organization was founded in Chicago in 1924. In the 91 years since then there were several important events, court decisions and legislations that paved the way for the Obergefell ruling. These two websites provide a thorough background of the American gay rights movement.
What did the Court say?
The court ruled that the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. The majority decision was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito each wrote their own dissents.
You can read summaries of the decisions here
How did the Church react?
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops called the ruling a “tragic error that harms the common good and most vulnerable among us.” You can read the USCCB’s full statement here.
The 11 bishops from Michigan released a joint statement that said the decision, “Represents a profound legal turning point in the contemporary and cultural understanding of spouses and family… While every person is called to love and deserve to be loved, today’s momentous decision will not change the truth of the Church’s teaching on marriage.” Read the full statement here
Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which will host Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September, said, “The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on marriage is not a surprise. The surprise will come as ordinary people begin to experience, firsthand and painfully, the impact of today’s action on everything they thought they knew about marriage, family life, our laws and our social institutions.” Read his full statement here
How did others react?
The decision provoked strong reactions from both sides of the debate. Pride festivals were held across the country. Many corporations, teams and celebrities voiced their approval. Facebook offered its users the option of putting a rainbow filter on their profile picture. Within 3 days, more than 26 million people chose to do so.
President Obama tweeted “Love Won.” On Friday night, he had the White House lit up with rainbow colors. Al has a commentary on this, which you can watch here.
The Catholic Church is not the only religious organization to disagree with the ruling. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America reiterated its position on traditional marriage. The Organization acknowledged that its values will not always align with American law, but expressed its hope that those with religious objections to same-sex marriage will continue to be allowed to teach their beliefs. You can read the full statement here.
There was a wide range of reactions from current presidential hopefuls. Every Democratic candidate supported the decision. Some Republicans, such as Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, repeated their belief in traditional marriage but also called for love and understanding for all people. Other candidates were critical of the Court. Click here for all the candidates’ reactions.
Several states vowed to resist the ruling. Most notable was Alabama, which ceased issuing marriage licenses to anyone until the issue could be examined. Read about it here.
Meanwhile, several judges and state officials nationwide, such as this judge in Michigan, have either resigned or stopped issuing marriage licenses.
Many Christians have argued that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage leaves no logical barrier to the legal recognition of polygamy. After all, if we remove gender in the name of “marriage equality,” then what’s stopping us from removing number? Al has explained before why he doesn’t see polygamy being accepted any time soon. However, a man in Montana has already sued for his right to polygamy using the same language of equality that was popularized by the gay rights movement. Read about it here.
Ross Douthat of the New York Times observed how the gay rights movement can be split into two camps which have very different goals. Read his piece here.
#LoveWins….and if you don’t agree, you’re a bigot
The culture has made it clear: either you support gay marriage, or you’re a homophobic bigot with outdated views that have no place in the modern world. We’ll be fighting that narrative for the rest of our lives.
Gay marriage advocates have no interest in “peaceful coexistence” with their opponents. They want to marginalize us to the point where our message is never heard in the public square. Al has two videos on the plan to demonize Christians:
Conservative blogger Matt Walsh wrote a reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision. Responses to his article called were filled with profanity and called him a “clown,” a “privileged piece of trash” and an “awful human.” They told him to kill himself and burn in hell. All of this in the name of “Love Wins.” Read his response to his critics here.
Molly Oshatz observed similar sentiments on social media. She writes here how love does win, but not the kind of love the culture promotes.
The editors of the Patriot News in Philadelphia have announced that they will no longer accept or publish letters to the editor that argue against the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, because those letters contain opinions that are just as wrong as sexism, racism or Antisemitism. Read about it here.
Writing for the Daily Beast, Sally Kohn described the “new, post-homophobic Christianity.” She said she “sure hopes” that so-called “anti-gay” Christians will be politically and socially ostracized. First Things has a response to her piece, which you can read here.
What do we do now?
We should make it clear that the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality is not going to change. We should continue to preach the Church’s love and acceptance of all people. We also need to be aware of the challenges we will face. Will the courts be able to guarantee our First Amendment right to Free Speech?
Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation wrote that we should begin by supporting the First Amendment Defense Act, which forbids the Federal Government from discriminating against people who speak and act according to their belief in traditional marriage. Read his article here.
Michael Caspino of the National Catholic Register says the ruling leaves faithful Christians with more questions than answers. Read his article here
Dawn Stefanowicz was raised by gay parents in Canada. She wrote about how the legal recognition of gay marriage quickly led to the erosion of free speech rights. Read her article here.
George Weigel says there Church now has one option: Evangelize. Article is here.
David Brooks of the New York Times wrote about the next culture war. His argument isn’t flawless, but his overall point is spot on. Read it here.
In his final video on the Court’s decision, Al says that we’ve reached the Age of the Laity. Are we ready for it?
How can we talk about it?
Greg Popcak, co-host of More2Life on Ave Maria Radio, says the focus of discussion should be on children.
Catholic Stand has put together a list of answers to questions commonly posed by advocates of same-sex marriage.
Bill May of Catholics for the Common Good says that it’s time to stop defending marriage and reintroduce it.
Gay Marriage advocates often say that love is without gender. Check out Al’s response to this argument.
As well as this article We speak the truth in love to all on same-sex marriage.