Interview: Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel of the ADF

On Tuesday, May 25, 2004, the California State Supreme Court held the first session of arguments over the validity of the gay “marriage” licenses issued by San Francisco earlier in the year, and whether Mayor Gavin Newsom abused his authority by sanctioning the licenses without the consent of the State. On the side of traditional marriage were the attorneys for the state of California and the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.

The following is the full text of an interview held with Jordan Lorence, senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund, on Thursday, May 27, 2004.

Before we begin, do you identify yourself as being Christian?

Yes, most definitely.

Mr. Lorence, what was the most crucial and incisive part of the argument you were making on behalf of the Alliance Defense Fund during Tuesday's court hearing?

I think the most important argument was that there was no constitutional trend to same sex marriage. In other words, it is not inevitable that same sex marriage would be legalized in the United States. I pointed out three court decisions in recent years where the court had said there is a right to same sex marriage. When it happened – in Alaska and Hawaii – the citizens passed legislations to overturn this. In the third case, Massachusetts, the process in the legislature has already begun; what we’ve been seeing of same sex couples getting married may be reversed in the next three years. Therefore, San Francisco had no basis of saying “we see a trend in the constitutional law and we will follow that law by issuing licenses to same-sex couples here.”

I also said the city and the county of San Francisco lacks the authority to rewrite the marriage laws. All the authority comes from the state statutes and San Francisco has no authority to rewrite marriage laws because that is unconstitutional under the state statute.

During the hearing, you had emphasized the pre-existent nullity of past illegal marriage licenses, which would preclude any active decision to invalidate licenses. Why do you believe there was such a heavy, elaborate and intense screening of this argument on the part of the Justices?

I think the court wanted to make sure it makes the right and fair decision because it involves four thousand couples that entered into the relationships. I personally think San Francisco is using these couples as a weapon to intimidate the court to back off from declaring the obvious - that the defective licenses never were valid. However, that would be a wrong decision and as I was saying, these licenses were invalid from day one. Even San Francisco knew these were of dubious legal validity when they issued them because they put a disclaimer in the licenses.

Do you believe the Supreme Court justices were influenced by a personal stance on the issue?

No. I felt the California court justices asked very informed questions, had a high degree of understanding and very clear thinking.

Do you believe the issue on same-sex “marriage” has been fairly covered in the media?

I think there is a major effort by the media to promote same sex unions as equivalent to marriage. I understand it is something people feel very strong about, but it is not the created order and there is a consensus among human culture that society is best with the traditional marriage model; disorder follows the deviation from this model.

Aside from the civil and legal issues, what are the other reasons traditional marriage must be protected?

Theologically, as the bible says in Ephesians 5:35, marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the church -- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. The gospel message of Christ dying for the sins of humanity is described in this verse as the relationship between one man and one woman. To redefine marriage, whether it is through polygamy or homosexuality, is to distort the message of God that one man is for one woman, just as Christ is willing to give up his life for the one church. Therefore, the distortion of marriage idistors the message of the gospel.

There are other reasons as well: Society experiences the greatest level of stability and progress when people limit their sexual activity to marriage, consisting of one man and one woman, and children are raised and nurtured in a social structure of marriage, representing the full spectrum of humanity, a man and a woman, living in harmony. Other forms of social entities, such as orphanages and single-parent households, exist. However, these forms are inferior to having every child raised in the social structure of one man and woman. We may recognize and tolerate the other social forms, many of which are created by disaster and sin, but it would be a societal error to pretend that two men or two women raising a child is as good as mother and father raising a child.

I acknowledge the enthusiasm of those on the other side and their belief that same-sex marriage is not bad for anyone, but this idea is wrong for society because traditional marriage is important for sustaining the humanity.

If we have widespread same sex marriage, then marriage as an institution will disappear. The reason is because homosexual activists who urge the legalization of same sex marriage have a very different concept of marriage than does a traditionalist or Christian who support marriage. What I mean is that the traditionalist view of marriage is that people should remain celibate until they are married, and should only engage in sexual activity with their spouse. Traditionalists also believe that this marriage is the model for all society.

However, what homosexual activists believe is that marriage is not the model for everyone in society, but a lifestyle choice one can make; they do not see marriage as better than cohabitation or anomalous sex. Therefore, marriage becomes a concept of equal rights where being married is no better than any other model of life.

In Holland where homosexual marriage has been legalized, the heterosexuals are not getting married, children are not getting raised by married couples and people believe everybody should do their own thing. The hearts of men are sinful, so it is rare that they will choose commitment, fidelity and laying down their lives for their wives and children over selfishness and excess. They will view marriage as confining rather than empowering, and over time, this concept corrodes society. This concept of radical individualism, of viewing sexuality as a personal choice where I could do whatever I want, will bring the erosion and chaos of society over time.

I think for decades Christians have been guilty for having a weak defense of marriage. But the attacks were not from same-sex marriage but from no fault divorce. Of course there are situations where domestic violence call for separation. But too frequently husbands abandon their wives for younger women. At these situations, many Christians will not take action against their friends, telling them: “you are being selfish and you can’t consider yourself Christian if you do such a selfish act.” The friends may say, “How dare you judge me.” However, this is God’s standard and God does not accept the pummeling of marriage - the first institution he created in the Garden of Eden after he created human beings.

What do you think can be done on the part of the churches?

I think the main thing church should talk about is maintaining sexual purity. Pastors need to teach the wrongness of divorce, not by condemning the divorcees, but by calling for repentance. Our society permits divorce in so many more situations than the bible does, and the exultation of the self and my pleasure has become more important than laying down my life for others. Marriage has become a Junior High school dating scene where if I am unhappy I could divorce my husband or wife and move onto someone else.

But we must remember that Christ laid his life for the one church, and I think the pastors need to speak more strongly about this. The divorcee can also help by reconciling to his past partner and by publicly saying that what he did was wrong. We as the church need to come to the aid of those who are having difficulties in their marriages, as well as outreach to the homosexual community because they are obviously living a deception that they are born that way. In the Christian community there are many people who were once homosexual but are now married to an opposite sex partner. Such is the case in the world as well, and there needs to be an outreach to show that the Christian church is a loving community whose principles liberate and bring the most security and fulfillment to its members. The pastors really need to emphasize this.

After 90 days, if the CALIFORNIA supreme court decides in favor of pro-gay groups, what further actions will the alliance defense fund take? How far is the ADF planning to go to win this case through the legal system?

It depends on what they say exactly; there could be an appeal on the Federal constitutional issues to the U.S. Supreme Court and we’ll just have to see what happens. But we will not give up because it is a fight we can win and must win. Any defeat is a temporary setback because God created the family to operate with one man and one woman. Human culture cannot go against this structure. To support same sex marriage is to support a foundational bone of society, marriage, being out of joint. A society cannot sustain itself over time with such a norm on marriage.

Is there anything you would like to tell the Christian audience?

I would tell them not to give up and to persevere in bringing the white of the message of traditional marriage, because it is rooted in the gospel itself. As Galatians 6:9 says: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

This is the battle our generation of Christians is called to fight and we must not shrink back.