The group behind the Manhattan Declaration, signed by more than 500,000 Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians, filed a "friend of the court" (amicus) brief reminding the Supreme Court, which is preparing to take on a number of gay marriage cases this year, of the importance of traditional families.
"Natural law, the nature of the human person, and common sense provide ample reason to preserve marriage as it has always been understood," said John Mauck, a Chicago attorney with the firm Mauck & Baker who submitted the brief, in an email shared with The Christian Post.
The Manhattan Declaration argues that God's plan for the family consists of one father and one mother, which is the type of environment in which children should be raised. It also attempts to show how the traditional male-female family institution has helped children benefit in their development and future growth. It has been signed by a number of notable leaders, including Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, among others.
"The brief identifies societal circumstances around the world that have accepted homosexual marriage, resulting in a decline in societal function and a harsh increase in religious oppression," the declaration adds.
The brief also tries to dismiss suggestions that advocates for traditional marriage can be accused of bigotry or being irrational.
This coming year, the Supreme Court will examine two high-profile cases that will determine the future of marriage in America. Those cases include Hollingsworth v. Perry, which will examine whether gay and lesbian Americans have a fundamental right to marriage, as well as Windsor v. United States, which will review the federal law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Currently, nine U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, recognize same-sex marriage, and although states are free to decide their own laws regarding same-sex couples, the Supreme Court has the power to change the federal definition.
In terms of public opinion, the U.S. has been warming up to more favorable positions regarding same-sex marriage. A November 2012 Gallup poll found that 53 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage, while 46 percent remained opposed.
Conservative commentators have insisted, however, that society cannot function without the fundamental unit of the family, which they say should be preserved as a marriage between a man and a woman.
"Everything depends on marriage," said George McCormick, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, "because it is the fundamental unit of society, the original and best department of health, education and welfare, supplying what every other institution in society needs, depends on, for its own flourishing, but which none of those institutions can supply for themselves."
McCormick's comments came during a recent Heritage Foundation seminar in Washington, D.C., attended by Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Dr. Robert P. George, who wrote the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.