As the U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday it will review 6th Circuit marriage cases, and thereby decide the future of marriage in America, Christian groups said the people and their elected representatives, and not unelected judges, should decide if states should legally recognize gay marriage.
"The majority of citizens in each state voted that the law should continue to recognize marriage as the union of a man and a woman," said Ryan T. Anderson, a fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in a statement after the Supreme Court said the justices will consolidate and hear together four cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Anderson, co-author of the book What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, pointed out that the 6th Circuit ruled last November that these laws do not violate the U.S. Constitution.
The justices will hear two-and-a-half hours of oral arguments in April, followed by a ruling before the term ends in late June, according to USA Today.
"The people and their elected representatives should deliberate and vote about marriage policy—not unelected judges—and they should make policy that serves the common good by reflecting the truth that marriage is the union of a man and woman," Anderson added, underlining that redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage. "It teaches that mothers and fathers are interchangeable."
Central to the case are two questions. One is whether states are required to license marriages between same-sex couples under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which the Michigan case has to decide. And the second is whether the amendment requires states to recognize such marriages when licensed by other states – which the Ohio and Tennessee cases have to decide.
The Kentucky case includes both.
Gay marriage is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Gay rights groups want all 50 states to legalize same-sex marriage.
"We've reached the moment of truth — the facts are clear, the arguments have been heard by dozens of courts, and now the nine justices of the Supreme Court have an urgent opportunity to guarantee fairness for countless families, once and for all," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.
However, Brian S. Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage, said in a statement that it is time for the 50 million Americans who stood for marriage in 30 states, to have their day in court
"We are confident that the Supreme Court has chosen the 6th Circuit case in order to affirm the finding of the Appeals court, just as it did in the cases of Windsor v. United States and Sabelius v. Hobby Lobby," Brown added. "We will be watching this case closely and anticipate an eventual victory for the democratic process, religious liberty, and the cherished institution of marriage which forms the very bedrock of our society."
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also released a statement, saying this case could potentially transform the cultural landscape of America.
"We should pray for the Court, that they will not seek to redefine marriage," he said. "Marriage was not created by government action, and shouldn't be re-created by government action. Even more than that, we should pray for churches who will know how to articulate and embody a Christian vision of marriage as the one flesh union of a man and a woman in the tumultuous years to come."
Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said marriage is an institution older than the Constitution. "Marriage is a natural bond that society or religion can only 'solemnize.'"
Alliance Defending Freedom said the people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws.
"Consistent with the Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor decision, which said that 'states have the essential authority to define the marital relation,' the 6th Circuit rightly concluded that the Constitution does not demand that a new view of marriage be judicially imposed on everyone," ADF Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks said in a statement. "We are hopeful the Supreme Court will uphold the freedom of the people to affirm marriage."