The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue two major rulings on the question of same-sex marriage any day now, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what the substance of those decisions may turn out to be.
Supporters of traditional marriage hope the high court will uphold as constitutional both the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8, both of which define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Advocates for same-sex marriage hope for the opposite result.
Speculate as we might, the Supreme Court operates under a shroud of confidentiality that admits of no breaches of secrecy. It is not easy to get inside the minds of the justices, individually or collectively, which is why their rulings often surprise us. That does not stop pundits from making projections, but they are largely unreliable due to their lack of inside information regarding the justices’ closed-door deliberations. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joked last year as rumors ran rampant prior to the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act last year, “Those who know don’t talk. And those who talk don’t know.”
Nevertheless, the most reasonable analysts seem to be predicting that neither side will be able to claim an outright victory in either the DOMA or Proposition 8 cases. The best guesses suggest the court will take a middle road that essentially sends the appeals back from whence they came for further review without settling the issue once and for all. Both sides could look at such decisions as partial victories and partial defeats, one might suppose, living to fight for their positions another day.
The folks behind the Manhattan Declaration, which fights on the side of upholding the traditional definition of marriage and family, puts the anticipated Supreme Court decisions in sound perspective:
As we anticipate the announcements, let us remember one thing: Whatever the results, it will not mean the end of our work to rebuild a culture of marriage and family.
Should the Supreme Court affirm the meaning and purpose of marriage, we will breathe a sigh of relief. But we won’t be satisfied.
If the Supreme Court rejects the time-honored purpose of marriage, it will be because the court — like many of our friends, neighbors and colleagues — has lost the meaning of marriage and its civic importance…
It took generations to erode marriage and family, with disastrous consequences. Restoration may take just as long. No matter this week’s rulings, we will rededicate ourselves to renewing in American culture the profound beauty, mystery and holiness of faithful marriage. We will be patient in the light of any setbacks. And, in the end, we we will succeed — if we do not give up.
In the battle for the defense of authentic marriage and family, we’re in it for the long haul. There is no quick, decisive victory in sight — quite the opposite, in fact. This battle is about much more than a pair of Supreme Court rulings. It involves far more than holding the line against the present alarming efforts to redefine marriage to encompass relationships other than one-man, one-woman unions. At its core, this battle requires that we recover within our culture the notion of marriage as a faithful, exclusive covenant between a man and a woman oriented toward the nurturing of families and the common good of society — an ideal that we have allowed to slip away from us through our increasing toleration of liberalizing trends that undermine these values.
As defenders of traditional marriage, we hope and pray the high court will not hand us the worst-case scenario. If not, there will not be much cause for celebration just yet. We will only have dodged a bullet. Hopefully, that will serve as the wake-up call we need as a Church and as a people. Our work has only just begun.