Obama the candidate made a promise to the LGBT community that Obama the President is now beginning to fulfill. On April 10, 2008 in his second interview with The Advocate, a popular gay publication, candidate Obama said, “…my commitment is to try to make sure that we are moving in the direction of full equality, and I think the federal government historically has led on civil rights. I’d like to see us lead here too.”
In June 2009, President Obama declared the month of June to be LGBT month and he bragged about his intention to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama told the crowd at the White House, “I have called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination against same sex couples in this country.”
Earlier this month, the Obama Justice Department reluctantly filed a brief in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts that defended the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
After the filing, Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler released a statement saying, “The president has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of DOMA because it prevents LGBT couples from being granted equal rights and benefits.” At every turn and every opportunity, candidate Obama and President Obama has pledged, promised, and committed himself to use the Executive branch of government to repeal DOMA. What does the Defense of Marriage Act say that is so offensive to the president?
Passed in 1996 by a margin of 342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate and signed into law by President Clinton, the Defense of Marriage Act offers protection to states that do not want to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. DOMA stated:
1. No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) needs to treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state.
2. The federal government defines marriage as a legal union exclusively between one man and one woman. Taken together, these statements provide legal protection for states not wanting to recognize same-sex marriage and defines marriage in such a way that anything other than a union between one man and one woman is considered illegal by the federal government. Since DOMA passed, twenty-eight states have amended their state constitutions to prohibit same-sex marriage. Four states currently allow same-sex marriage with Maine and New Hampshire set to expand the number to six.
There is no question that a majority of Americans want marriage to remain exclusively between a man and a woman. But legislation now pending in the United States House of Representatives would repeal DOMA and allow the federal government to challenge states that refuse to recognize same-sex unions. Ironically, the House bill (H.R. 3567) is called the “Respect for Marriage Act of 2009.” The bill’s main sponsor, Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) no doubt took some kind of sick, sadistic pleasure in putting the words “respect” and “marriage” together in a bill that is designed to do everything but respect marriage.
The bill states: “For the purpose of a Federal law in which marital status is a factor, an individual shall be considered married if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and the marriage could have been entered into in a State.” It may sound like a lot of doubletalk but the bottom line is if this bill, which already has over 90 co-sponsors in the House, passes and is ever signed into law by President Obama, all state sponsored definitions of marriage will be subjected to this new Federal definition. In other words, marriage as we know it will no longer be protected by state law. Same-sex couples from my home state of South Carolina, who chose to go to Massachusetts to get marriage, will be able to return to South Carolina and force the state to recognize their “marriage.”
While the whole country is fixed on the health-care debate, we must not allow this direct attack against marriage to succeed. God’s Word explicitly condemns homosexuality in I Corinthians 6, Romans 1, and many other places. The Bible also clearly defines the parameters of marriage. Genesis 2:24-25 says, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
Marriage between a man and a woman is the cornerstone of civilization. The government forced recognition of what God has condemned will have severe consequences for our culture…. for our very way of life. I pray that some of the passion that has been demonstrated for stopping health-care reform will be unleashed against H.R. 3567.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.