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The Point Washington Update - June 27, 2013

In this edition of The Point:


Article #1

Excerpted from "Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act," Washington Post, June 26, 2013--The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the states where they reside. The decision was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court’s liberals to form the majority. It did not address the question of whether there was a constitutional right to same-sex marriages.

Excerpted from "Supreme Court clears way for same-sex marriage in California," Washington Post, June 26, 2013 - The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for same-sex marriages in California, declining to rule on the state’s Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The court ruled 5 to 4 that those who appealed a decision throwing out the constitutional amendment did not have legal standing to proceed. Thus, the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the case.


Commentary #1

CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): (excerpted from CMA news release): "We as doctors have long recognized that the most important function of marriage is to protect the needs of children--not simply to fulfill the emotional desires of adults.

"The best research shows that children consistently experience the most positive outcomes with a mom and a dad and too often experience negative outcomes in same-sex households1. When some research has attempted to convince us otherwise, rigorous examination of those studies has uncovered fatal research flaws, most likely the result of presuppositions and political agendas that undermined objectivity2.

"Some activists, both in the courts and in public policy, appear intent on forcing people of faith to bow to a new and radical viewpoint that ignores our faith convictions and the testimony of millennia regarding marriage. Such pressure inevitably threatens religious freedom, as same-sex relationship advocates insist that conformity to their ideology trumps First Amendment speech, religious liberty and conscience freedoms.

"The Supreme Court failed to recognize that 'We the people' should decide marriage policy. Activist judges with an agenda have been foisting their views on the people--based not on the original Constitution or the duly registered will of the people--but on what these judges imagine their progressive society should look like. Yet 38 states have affirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman. Regardless of this Court's decision, the debate on marriage will continue.

"We will continue to advocate for marriage and the children protected by marriage."

1 Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support child development (Child Trends Research Brief after reviewing the literature, June 2002). “Most researchers now agree that together, these studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two married biological parents” (Center for Law and Social Policy, May, 2003).

2 Lerner, Robert, Ph.D and Nagai, Althea K., Ph.D. “No Basis: What the Studies Don’t Tell Us About Same-Sex Parenting.”Marriage Law Project, Washington DC. January 2001. “Lerner and Nagai, professionals in the field of quantitative analysis, evaluated 49 empirical studies on same-sex parenting. Lerner and Nagai found at least one fatal research flaw in all of the 49 studies.


Article #2

Excerpted from "Supreme Court says law can’t dictate anti-AIDS groups’ speech, Washington Post, June 20, 2013 - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday, June 20 that it is a violation of the First Amendment for the federal government to force groups to endorse the government’s views opposing prostitution in order to receive funding to combat AIDS overseas. The justices ruled 6 to 2 that a requirement in a multibillion-dollar anti-AIDS program withholding money from organizations that do not have a policy “explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking” violates their free-speech rights.

“This case is not about the government’s ability to enlist the assistance of those with whom it already agrees,” wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “It is about compelling a grant recipient to adopt a particular belief as a condition of funding.”

The provision at the center of the court’s ruling Thursday is of a 2003 law under which the United States is spending $60 billion to combat infectious diseases worldwide. It forbade any of the money being used to “promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficking,” which are ways the diseases can be spread.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Scalia said the government was not coercing speech but simply acquiring partners who share its beliefs.

“The First Amendment does not mandate a viewpoint-neutral government,” Scalia wrote. “The government may enlist the assistance of those who believe in its ideas to carry them to fruition; and it need not enlist for that purpose those who oppose or do not support the ideas. That seems to me a matter of the most common sense.”


Commentary #2

CMA Vice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: "Some colleagues who focus on religious liberty issues had filed briefs opposing the 'prostitution pledge' provision. They reasoned that its allowance would let the government unconstitutionally dictate the ideological views of any organization that receives government funding. These groups understandably feared strengthening the Obama administration's attacks on religious liberty, buttressing local governments' attacks on pregnancy centers through speech requirements, and squeezing out campus student groups that decline to conform to university dogma on social issues.

"Other religious liberty colleagues, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, reasoned--rightly, in my view--that requiring grantees to supply proof of opposition to prostitution was an eminently reasonable requirement to further the goals of a government health program that hinges on stopping prostitution. The anti-prostitution requirement in this view, does not restrict the free speech of anyone--it just keeps the government from paying for speech opposed to the goals of this particular program, which provides funding on a completely voluntary basis.

"Whatever one might conclude regarding the theoretical impact of this case on religious liberty, what remains undeniable and real are the immediate harms, from a pro-life, anti-trafficking and anti-AIDS perspective, that result from this ruling:

  • more money to groups that see prostitution as legitimate 'sex work' rather than as an evil to be eradicated--including pro-abortion and pornography groups (like DKT International, which had filed a similar suit);
  • a blow to efforts to eradicate prostitution, along with prostitution's threat to public health and its degradation of and violence against women and children;
  • the prospect of yet more forced and elective abortions, resulting from relying on condom distribution programs and unionization of prostituted women and children rather than rescuing them out of sex trafficking and other forms of prostitution."
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