Last week marked a nadir in the battle for biblical marriage. Two huge events occurred. First, former VP Dick Cheney voiced his support for same-sex marriage. Second, New Hampshire became the sixth state in the Union to legalize gay marriage. Despite these two events, nationalizing same-sex marriage is absolutely not inevitable. Gay marriage proponents are only too aware that the recent California Supreme Court ruling that the 2008 Proposition 8 victory will stand guarantees that a fresh round of marriage amendments, initiatives, and referendums will undoubtedly be levied in the states that have scored temporary victories for same-sex marriage.
I must admit that Cheney’s defection from his party’s long-term stance on marriage was especially disappointing. His open admission of his transition to same-sex marriage advocacy - which places him left of President Obama - seemed especially hypocritical in light of his second term ascension to power on the wings of the same sex-marriage controversy. Perhaps this admission explains why the Bush administration ran out of steam on the issue shortly after their 2004 victory. Numerous pro-family groups who have supported the GOP for years are questioning where their values will find a new political home.
While these groups meditate on the political ramifications of recent marriage regulations and decisions, new alliances are being formed and millions of nameless and faceless Americans will soon join the struggle to affirm biblical marriage. The New Hampshire legislature muddied the waters in the marriage debate by attempting to throw the religious community a bone, declaring that conservative ministers would not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
Despite the New Hampshire governor’s attempt to paint this as a compromise position, the religious services exemption is tantamount to giving pro “biblical” marriage proponents the sleeves out of one’s vest. In most cases openly gay people will not seek out conservative ministers to perform their weddings. Only activists seeking a precedent setting case would even entertain coercing a biblically faithful minister.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.