Eight Reasons Obergefell Has Derailed America
The Importance of Rediscovering the Authentic American Way
[F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy…the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments.
—Gouverneur Morris, signer of the US Constitution, author of large sections of the Constitution—
Founding Father Gouverneur Morris
Part 6 is available here.
As I write these words on Friday, June 24, 2016, this coming weekend is sandwiched between two all-American holidays—Father’s Day and Independence Day. Let’s consider each one briefly.
In the United States, the genesis of Father’s Day as a national holiday can be traced to several events taking place in the early 20th century. One of these was a heartbreaking tragedy. On Friday, December 6, 1907, an accident occurred Monongah, West Virginia that has been called “the worst mining disaster in American history.” At 10:28 a.m. an explosion tore through two mines owned by the Fairmont Coal Company. Inside were 367 men, most of whom perished instantly. Unfortunately, those who survived the initial blast had little chance of being rescued because the support timbers and ventilation systems in the mines also were severely damaged or destroyed. Moreover, in those days, rescuers did not have life-preserving oxygen masks, so they were exposed to toxic fumes as they labored to free trapped workers. Each rescue trip had a time limit of 15 minutes. Lacking the means to sufficiently clear the mines of toxic gasses, the town lost 362 men. Only one miner was rescued while four managed to escape.
Of those who died in the Monongah Mining disaster, 250 were fathers. Their children numbered at around 1,000. Mrs Grace Golden Clayton, daughter of a Methodist pastor, had lost her own father in 1896. Mrs. Clayton was deeply touched by these losses and the struggles their families were having in the weeks and months that followed. She suggested to her pastor, Dr. Robert T. Webb, that their church, located in nearby Fairmont, hold a service to honor fathers. Later recalling the request, Mrs. Clayton said, “It was partly the explosion that set me to think how important and loved most fathers are. All those lonely children and those heart-broken wives and mothers, made orphans and widows in a matter of a few minutes. Oh, how sad and frightening to have no father, no husband, to turn to at such an awful time.”
The service was held on July 5, 1908, just three days before Rev. Golden’s July 8th birthday. Many years later, in 1962, an effort was gathering steam to place a day honoring fathers on the national calendar. West Virginia Congressman Arch Moore received a letter from a gentleman named Ward Downs. Mr. Downs wrote,
It has recently come to my attention of a movement establishing a Father’s Day by an act of Congress to be observed the same as Mother’s Day. It was my privilege to have attended the first Father’s Day Service July 5, 1908 at the Williams Memorial M.E. Church, South, now the Central United Methodist Church, Fairmont, WV. The sermon was preached by Dr. R. T. Webb at the request of Mrs. Charles Clayton, a member of that congregation, and daughter of a Methodist minister. I recall the occasion very distinctly as the pulpit was decorated by having ripened sheaves of wheat placed about it. Many favorable comments by the individuals and the press were made concerning the service at that time. Any assistance you can give this movement will be very much appreciated by me and all the Methodists in this part of the country.
Despite Mr. Downs’s fond memory of the service, other events in the area, including a 4th of July celebration and the death of a young woman, overshadowed it. City and state proclamations establishing a day to honor fathers, therefore, weren’t a top priority at the time.
Another effort to honor fathers was spearheaded by Sonora Smart Dodd in Spokane, Washington. Dodd’s father, William Jackson Smart, was a Civil War veteran. As a single dad he had raised six children. Having heard in 1909 about Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish a special day honoring mothers, Dodd told her pastor she believed fathers should be similarly recognized. Because her father’s birthday was June 5, Dodd suggested that date. More time was needed for preparation of sermons, however, so the recognition was held on June 19, 1910. The Spokane YMCA hosted the event. Making it official, the mayor of Spokane and the Governor of Washington State issued proclamations.
Additional efforts were made at various times and places to set aside a day to honor fathers, but it wasn’t until 1966 that a presidential proclamation was issued establishing a national holiday called Father’s Day. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued that proclamation.
Six years later, on May 1 of 1972, President Nixon issued a proclamation echoing an April, 1972 joint resolution of Congress that from that point forward, Father’s Day would be commemorated nationwide every year on the third Sunday in June.
Consider these statements in Nixon’s proclamation.
To have a father—to be a father—is to come very near the heart of life itself.
In fatherhood we know the elemental magic and joy of humanity. In fatherhood we even sense the divine, as the Scriptural writers did who told of all good gifts coming “down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”—symbolism so challenging to each man who would give his own son or daughter a life of light without shadow.
Our identity in name and nature, our roots in home and family, our very standard of manhood—all this and more is the heritage our fathers share with us. It is a rich patrimony, one for which adequate thanks can hardly be offered in a lifetime, let alone a single day. Still it has long been our national custom to observe each year one special Sunday in honor of America’s fathers; and from this year forward, by a joint resolution of the Congress approved April 24, 1972, that custom carries the weight of law.
So, in the histories of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we see that honoring one’s parents and celebrating one’s family are authentic American traditions. Yet today, these holidays threaten the politically correct message that the Left wishes to promote. The conservative information site conservapedia.com states of Father’s Day,
There has been liberal opposition to Father’s Day, wanting to replace it with “Family Day”. This concept was created in Canada due to the legislation of same-sex “marriage” as it was felt to be unfair to adopted children of same-sex couples. Such a move has been opposed by many normal parents who do not want to see this tradition being overtaken by political correctness. The Liberal opposition do not seem to care about honoring the role of the father, which is highly important for the support and the guidance for children.
Nor do the liberal opposition seem to care that same-sex marriage deprives children adopted by same-sex parents of either a mother or a father—by design! President Herbert Hoover was absolutely right when he observed, “Children are our greatest natural resource.” Walt Disney said something very similar: “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”
Because they are unnatural, the unions forged by same-sex marriage cannot bring children into the world. Moreover, depriving children of either a mother or a father by design will have severe repercussions for a nation’s future. I am not saying here that parents in same-sex unions cannot love their children; of course they can—and they do! What I am saying is that men and women are different. No man ever can be a mother, nor can any woman truly be a father.
What about single parents? They obviously meet their children’s needs as best they can, and many of them are fabulous parents. We who are not in their shoes may well wonder how they do all they do as well as they do in less-than-ideal situations. Even so, a single-parent home doesn’t eliminate the concept of a mom and dad! Same-sex marriage destroys that concept, to the detriment a nation’s children and that nation’s future. Together, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day affirm the absolute best design for the family. We have departed from it at great cost, and it is imperative that we return.
In the United States, Father’s Day can come as early as June 15 (19 days before Independence Day) or as late as June 21 (13 days prior).
Independence Day, of course, commemorates the ratification of the declaration of the American Colonies’ independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence showcases the date of July 4, 1776, although July 4 actually wasn’t the date signatures were affixed.
In the early days of the republic, Independence Day was not merely a national birthday celebration. It was a sacred day. Hear these words from an oration delivered in Newburyport, Massachusetts on July 4, 1837 by former President John Quincy Adams. At the time, Mr. Adams had already been president (1825-1829) and was representing Massachusetts’s 12th district in the US House of Representatives.
Why is it, Friends and Fellow Citizens, that you are here assembled? Why is it, that, entering upon the sixty-second year of our national existence, you have honored with an invitation to address you from this place, a fellow citizen of a former age, bearing in the records of his memory, the warm and vivid affections which attached him, at the distance of a full half century, to your town, and to your forefathers, then the cherished associates of his youthful days? Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day?…
Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the corner stone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity, and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies, announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets six hundred years before?
Cast your eyes backwards upon the progress of time, sixty-one years from this day; and in the midst of the horrors and desolations of civil war, you behold an assembly of Planters, Shopkeepers and Lawyers, the Representatives of the People of thirteen English Colonies in North America, sitting in the City of Philadelphia. These fifty-five men, on that day, unanimously adopt and publish to the world, a state paper under the simple title of ‘A DECLARATION.’
The object of this Declaration was two-fold.
First, to proclaim the People of the thirteen United Colonies, one People, and in their name, and by their authority, to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with another People, that is, the People of Great Britain.
Secondly, to assume, in the name of this one People, of the thirteen United Colonies, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station, to which the Laws of Nature, and of Nature’s God, entitled them.
You can read former President Adams’s complete speech here. We’ve quoted enough of it, however, to be reminded of the importance of this phrase in the Declaration of Independence: the laws of nature and of nature’s God. This phrase takes on even greater significance today, in 2016, as politically correct voices repudiate these two forces in both words and actions.
The One-Year Anniversary of an Ominous Event
It’s ironic that sandwiched in between Father’s Day and Independence Day—this year almost precisely in the middle—is June 26, the one-year anniversary of perhaps the most egregious overreach of the United States Supreme Court. As you are no doubt aware, on June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court issued its 5-4 decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges, striking down laws nationwide that limited the definition of marriage to one man and one woman. Perhaps not coincidentally, the ruling came just two days shy of the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969, an event that militant homosexual rights advocates point to as a turning point and an historical coalescing of their movement.
President Obama has designated June as LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] Pride Month in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016—each year he has been in office. As one would expect, his most recent proclamation (2016) speaks of Obergefell in glowing terms.
Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 States was a historic victory for LGBT Americans, ensuring dignity for same-sex couples and greater equality across State lines. For every partnership that was not previously recognized under the law and for every American who was denied their basic civil rights, this monumental ruling instilled newfound hope, affirming the belief that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.
During the past several weeks, we have demonstrated that the “right” to same-sex marriage is based on a philosophy of rights that stands in direct opposition to the philosophy of rights embraced by America’s Founders. In summary, we can confidently say that man-woman marriage deprives no one of his or her civil rights, and to suggest that it does is to totally misrepresent the truth about marriage, the family unit, American history, liberty, authentic freedom, cohesiveness in society, and all the rights afforded to individuals by nature and nature’s God.
Man-woman marriage deprives no one of his or her civil rights, and to suggest that it does is to totally misrepresent the truth about marriage, the family unit, American history, liberty, authentic freedom, cohesiveness in society, and all the rights afforded to individuals by nature and nature’s God.
As you may recall, on the evening of June 26, 2015, the day the Supreme Court announced its decision in Obergefell, the Obama administration went out of its way to express support for the decision by lighting the White House in rainbow colors.
As we observed in a post from April of last year,
We can be assured that God is keenly aware of divine signs and images that are being misrepresented today. Thousands of years ago, God placed the first rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His faithfulness after the flood of Noah (see Gen. 9:8-17), but in 2015 many people see rainbow colors and celebrate evil in the name of the politically correct principles of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusiveness.’ Then there’s marriage—a sacred institution ordained and instituted by God (see Gen. 2:18-25) as well as a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church (see Eph. 5:22-32). Needless to say, that picture is being muddied and distorted everywhere people look. If marriage is redefined in America, how can it possibly continue to represent in society anything close to the relationship God ordained it to represent? If we lose marriage, we lose an image that helps people understand why Christ died. While we cannot expect non-Christians to act as Christians, neither can we ignore the fact that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and for many years upheld these ideals. Yet in recent decades in this country, we have, as a nation, kicked God out of public life. Given all the opportunities we as Americans have had to hear and respond to God’s truth, we must understand that God will hold us accountable.
“Gay Pride” celebrations occur frequently in June, and many will be held this coming weekend, including those in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, St. Petersburg, and Nashville. Please pray about these events and for those who participate in them, that they will come to see the truth and that they’ll recognize the perilous risk thrust upon America and America’s children by same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
Pray for another event as well. Thankfully, homosexual rights advocates aren’t the only ones expressing their point of view—but you’d never know this by listening to the mainstream press. On Saturday, June 25, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the annual March for Marriage will take place at the National Mall in Washington, DC. No amount of maneuvering on the part of government can change the reality that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, but pretending marriage is anything else will cause great harm, and we need to be unafraid to articulate this truth.
On this weekend marking the one year anniversary of Obergefell—a foreboding anniversary situated between the authentic American holidays of Father’s Day and Independence Day—I’d like to demonstrate that same-sex marriage and the positive rights flowing from it are wholly un-American. They’re even anti-American. Consider these eight realities.
First, the real American way embraces free speech and open debate in the marketplace of ideas. In fact, at the founding of the country, free speech and personal integrity were so cherished that no one thought of trying to adjust his or her position so as to attract a greater number.
Modern Americans are assaulted by misguided calls for “bipartisanship,” a code word for one side ceding its ideas to the party favored by the media. In fact, however, [Founding Father James] Madison detested compromise that involved abandoning principles, and, in any event, thought the Republic was best served when factions [groups with opposing viewpoints, especially political parties] presented extreme differences to the voters, rather than shading their positions toward the middle. The modern moderate voters—so highly praised in the media—would have been anathema to Madison, who wanted people to take sides as a means of creating checks and balances. 1
Thus, while at the time of the founding rigorous debate was considered healthy, with Obergefell, the Supreme Court effectively choked it off! As Justice Clarence Thomas said in his dissent (citations have been omitted to enhance readability),
The majority [of this court making this decision] apparently disregards the political process as a protection for liberty. Although men, in forming a civil society, “give up all the power necessary to the ends for which they unite into society, to the majority of the community,” they reserve the authority to exercise natural liberty within the bounds of laws established by that society. To protect that liberty from arbitrary interference, they establish a process by which that society can adopt and enforce its laws. In our country, that process is primarily representative government at the state level, with the Federal Constitution serving as a backstop for that process. As a general matter, when the States act through their representative governments or by popular vote, the liberty of their residents is fully vindicated. This is no less true when some residents disagree with the result; indeed, it seems difficult to imagine any law on which all residents of a State would agree. What matters is that the process established by those who created the society has been honored.
That process has been honored here. The definition of marriage has been the subject of heated debate in the States. Legislatures have repeatedly taken up the matter on behalf of the People, and 35 States have put the question to the People themselves. In 32 of those 35 States, the People have opted to retain the traditional definition of marriage. That petitioners disagree with the result of that process does not make it any less legitimate. Their civil liberty has been vindicated.
Second, the debate over conscience rights isn’t a debate over whether or not same-sex couples will be allowed to “marry.” No same-sex couple wanting a ceremony has been or will be unable to arrange it; every gay and lesbian couple has complete freedom to orchestrate the outcome they want. Yet if they honor the conscience rights of religious vendors, they may not be able to have a particular vendor for one job or another. Is it truly the American way to single people out and force them to act against their most deeply held convictions? Of course not! As we noted last week, and as Founding Father James Madison declared, “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…. Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”
Third, generally speaking, those who have objected to hosting or otherwise participating in same-sex weddings or civil unions have not hesitated to do business with homosexuals in a wide variety of other contexts. Nevertheless, they believe it wrong to lend their talent and other resources for a “marriage” ceremony—or any ceremony, for that matter—solemnizing a same-sex union. Therefore, the debate isn’t about discrimination against a group of individuals, but about whether or not what one believes about marriage will prevent him or her from acting peacefully on that belief.
Fourth, conscience rights aren’t new, but a part of America’s heritage. Conscience rights are negative rights consistent with the Founders’ view of liberty and limited government. As Justice Thomas indicated in his dissent, the “right” of members of the same sex to “marry” involves government intervention inconsistent with Founding principles and with the Constitution. You may recall that Thomas wrote,
Since well before 1787, liberty has been understood as freedom from government action, not entitlement to government benefits. The Framers created our Constitution to preserve that understanding of liberty. Yet the majority invokes our Constitution in the name of a “liberty” that the Framers would not have recognized, to the detriment of the liberty they sought to protect.
Fifth, “Anti-discrimination” laws that essentially say any and all vendors must participate in a same-sex ceremony aren’t really anti-discrimination laws at all. As we have noted, in other contexts, those who object to participating in a same-sex ceremony will gladly and cheerfully do business with gays and lesbians. Thus, rather than leveling the playing field, such laws give homosexual activists carte blanche to target specific vendors and to force them to participate in ceremonies they find objectionable. This makes an absolute mockery of the Fourteenth Amendment’s provision that “No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The positive “rights” flowing from Obergefell make a mockery of the Fourteenth Amendment’s provision that “No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws.”
During the years that led up to the Supreme Court’s decision that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, proponents of same-sex marriage would repeatedly ask this rhetorical question: “Just how is my same-sex marriage going to affect you?” They were making the case that same-sex marriage is a private affair between two consenting adults. The denial of either a father or mother to every child adopted by a same-sex couple is a whole other issue, but activists were appealing to heterosexual adults and making the case that even if they didn’t agree with same-sex marriage, they personally would not be affected by it in any way.
Now we know that a growing number of people are being directly affected. Many are being threatened; some may even lose their livelihoods. Do not be fooled. Forced compliance to the militant gay agenda will not be limited to photographers, bakers, florists, artists, wedding planners, and venue operators. We ought to see this clearly now, especially in light of the push to give biological men who identify as women access to women’s restrooms. Where will it stop? We need to understand that unless we as a nation regain a solid moral footing, it won’t stop! This is blatantly un-American. In fact, it is tyranny.
Sixth, moral objections to homosexuality aren’t new, so homosexual activists can’t claim someone has recently invented a new rationale to discriminate against the gay community. As Eric Metaxas writes,
American freedom is, of course, nothing like pure and unmitigated freedom—which would indeed be anarchy and no freedom at all. True freedom just be an “ordered freedom,” at the center of which is what we call “self-government.” So to be clear: People would not have freedom from government, but would have freedom from tyrannous government, or from government that might easily become tyrannous.”2
Yet today, as we have seen, government has thrown off many of the constitutional restraints that otherwise would prevent it from acting in a tyrannical manner.
Seventh, evidence from the health sciences raises red flags about homosexual activity and, therefore, about legitimizing homosexuality through same-sex marriage. The American way of free and open debate in the marketplace of ideas is not prevailing on this issue today. In our politically correct climate, even professionals with proven track records have hit a brick wall in their efforts to uphold safety and good health by presenting the truth.
Eighth, the belief that marriage should be a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman has been upheld in the civilized world for thousands of years and never was considered a bigoted position until very recently. Furthermore, those who contend this is an unfairly discriminatory point of view can offer no real evidence that gays and lesbians have been harmed by this perspective. Advocates of same-sex marriage make emotional appeals when they claim “discrimination” and call those who disagree with them names. But the evidence is on the side of those who believe marriage to be a lifelong heterosexual union. Also, it is undeniable children do best when they are brought up in homes by their married moms and dads. Listen to this one-minute clip.
The burden of proof for the notion that man-woman marriage is a bigoted position should rest on advocates of same-sex marriage. Simply calling those who disagree with them bigots is no proof. The Supreme Court’s ruling shuts off spirited, healthy, substantive debate and effectively acts to shut up proponents on one side of this issue. Again, this is un-American.
Unfortunately, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to recognize our country as the “land of the free and the home of the brave” (a quotation from the “Star-Spangled Banner”)—and to believe that she even remotely has the capacity to “confirm thy soul in self-control; thy liberty in law” (a quotation from “America the Beautiful”). It is imperative that we rediscover the authentic American way. We must never give up hope that we can return to the ideals embraced by America’s Founders. After all, our God is God of miracles.
Still, we must pray for America, because if God doesn’t act, things are looking pretty desperate.
Next week, in our eighth and final article in this series, we’ll consider ways that, with God’s help, we can lead our country back to the principles on which it was built.
Part 8 is available here.
Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
- ‘March for Marriage’ challenges WH transgender push—onenewsnow.com
- 2016 March for Marriage Was a Great Success
Websites in this article have been cited for information purposes only. No citation should be construed as an endorsement.
1Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, (New York: Sentinel, 2004), 122.
2Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, (New York, Viking, 2016), 29.