The Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on same-sex marriage amounted to a stealth version of Roe v. Wade on the issue, Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore told a national television audience.
Appearing on C-SPAN Oct. 14, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) said the justices’ decision not to review lower-court invalidations of state laws banning gay marriage “was essentially an under-the-radar Roe versus Wade for marriage.” Roe v. Wade was the high court’s 1973 opinion that struck down all state bans on abortion.
The Supreme Court’s Oct. 6 orders involving laws in five states across three federal appellate circuits — and an ensuing decision by an appeals court — supposedly will result in same-sex marriage being legal in 35 of the 50 states. Before the action, gay marriage was legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The justices’ “non-decision decision,” as Moore described it, leaves open the question of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage nationally, but it appears highly unlikely the current court would invalidate such unions.
He doesn’t know “what the end game is in the short term, but it’s very clear where the court is wanting to go, and that is toward finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage,” Moore told “Washington Journal” host Greta Wodele Brawner. “I, of course, don’t think there is any such constitutional right.”
The high court’s denial of the appeals was not “something I was all that surprised by,” given its ruling last year in a marriage case, Moore said. That 2013 decision “laid the groundwork for what they wanted to do,” he said of the majority of the justices.
In last year’s opinion, the justices struck down a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that recognized marriage as only between a man and a woman. Though the high court refused in that decision to say states could not limit marriage to heterosexual couples, most lower courts have used the decision as a basis for striking down state laws that define marriage in that manner.
Moore said the Supreme Court’s latest action “doesn’t settle the debate, because we will continue to debate what marriage is and why the government ought to have an interest in marriage at all.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press