Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas said Wednesday's Supreme Court decision to overturn a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act was mostly due to political correctness.
Jeffress, who leads an 11,000-member congregation, said in a statement that "the high court bases its decisions on the shifting sands of public opinion rather than enduring legal and moral principles."
Earlier on Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of DOMA in a narrow 5-4 vote, which now allows married gay couples to receive the same tax, health and retirement benefits that are available to married heterosexual couples.
Less than an hour later, the court paved the way for same-sex marriage in California by denying an appeal on an earlier court decision that overturned Proposition 8, the amendment that defined marriage in the state as a union between a man and a woman.
In his statement following the Supreme Court's decisions, Jeffress argued that there is no absolute, constitutional right to marry, and that the government reserves the right to restrict marriage, such as between siblings or polygamists.
"If you start expanding the definition of marriage between one man and one woman, where do you stop?" the pastor asked.
He continued by reminding readers that former President Bill Clinton signed DOMA in 1996, but has since rejected it and called it "unconstitutional." The First Baptist Church pastor said that the reason behind Clinton's change of mind is "shifting public opinion and political expediency."
A number of polls in the U.S. have indeed shown that public approval of same-sex marriage has been rising over the last few years. Clinton admitted that his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, was one of the main reasons he decided to back gay marriage.
"Chelsea and her gay friends have modeled to me how we should all treat each other regardless of our sexual orientation or any other artificial difference that divides us," Clinton said at the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation dinner in Los Angeles in April, where he received an "Advocate for Change" award.
"Many of them come and join us every Thanksgiving for a meal. I have grown very attached to them. And over the years, I was forced to confront the fact that people who oppose equal rights for gays in the marriage sphere are basically acting out of concern for their own identity, not out of respect for anyone else," Clinton continued.
Jeffress warned, however, that equating gay marriage to heterosexual marriage devalues the contributions that both mothers and fathers make to the lives of children.
"Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan says there is no better environment to raise a child than one in which a child is connected to their biological father and mother," Jeffress stressed. "Though not always possible, government should support rather than devalue that arrangement."
While the Supreme Court decisions were celebrated by LGBT activists and backed by President Barack Obama, who called the DOMA ruling a "historic step forward," other conservative Christians have expressed their disappointment at the developments.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called it a "tragic day for marriage and our nation."
"The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage."
The Rev. Bart Day, executive director of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's Office of National Mission, said he wasn't surprised by the rulings but nevertheless was "saddened for our nation."
"As Christians, we believe and confess that God Himself instituted marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman," said Day. "Same-sex unions are contrary to God's will, and gay marriage is, in the eyes of God, no marriage at all. As Christians, we proclaim this truth, no matter what the courts or legislatures may say. We are called not to popularity but to truth. Therefore, we call on our fellow Christians to be faithful first to God's Word, knowing that another court is ultimately supreme."