Last week, 5 justices on the U.S. Supreme Court declared that there is a constitutional right to gay marriage, and in doing so overturned centuries of history and the decision by majorities of voters and elected officials of many states who chose to continue to define the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman. The Constitution does not provide the federal government with the power to define marriage. States have historically held this power and have every right to change the definition if their voters and elected officials chose to do so. In 2006. 78% of South Carolina voters approved a state constitutional amendment that established our traditional definition of marriage. I disagree with the court’s opinion because it takes this decision out of the proper role in the hands of voters and elected representatives.
Strong families are the fundamental building block of our civil society, and history has shown that the traditional definition of marriage, the union of one man and one woman, is a key component of strong families. As a conservative, I believe that the antidote to big government is strong institutions in our civil society such as families and churches that can take care of those around us without collective government action.
As all 9 Supreme Court Justices said in their opinions, this new “constitutional right” opens the door to restricting the religious liberty of our citizens whose faith dictates a traditional definition of marriage alone. In the coming years, we must be vigilant to protect the freedom of conscience and resist efforts to take away the rights of churches and people of faith to act on their faith in their daily lives. Our society cannot grant one group rights at the expense of the constitutional rights of other citizens.
Because society derives a benefit from strong families, the government has historically promoted certain family structures that promote strong communities. This ruling and the steps that led to it over the past few years have led me to question whether government should take such action to begin with. I have, after serious thought and prayer, come to the conclusion that we would be better to separate the religious institution of marriage from the government institution. This is the only way to separate the benefits that society confers upon marriage as a government institution from the deeply held religious beliefs of myself and others that marriage is a sacrament between husband and wife and their God. The value of my marriage is derived from this sacredness, not any government papers or tax benefits. Government should get out of the marriage business.
Finally, let me speak directly for a moment to those in the LBGT community. Contrary to what some say about those in my faith, I do not hate you. Actually, my belief in Jesus Christ leads me to love you unconditionally. You are my brothers and sisters, and I want nothing more than to share reconciliation and mutual respect with you. The safest place for you should be in a group of Christians, and if anyone of my faith has ever made you feel otherwise I sincerely apologize to you. We can disagree on this issue, but know that I love you as a fellow human being. We can approach our disagreements in the way that you have asked us to approach your lifestyle – with tolerance of the right for people to have differing opinions.