CORRECTION: A statement issued by Russell Moore for a Baptist Press story Feb. 12 was not quoted in its entirety regarding the legal and ethical issues surrounding a federal judge’s ruling against Alabama law upholding traditional marriage. The Baptist Press story is corrected below to incorporate the full statement by Moore, who is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The U.S. Supreme Court likely will legalize gay marriage nationwide, labeling it a constitutional right under the 14th Amendment, Southern Baptists’ lead ethicist told state convention executives and Baptist state paper editors Feb. 11.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was “probably right” in his apparent prediction that the Supreme Court’s recent denial of a stay to halt legalized same-sex marriage in Alabama “is a signal of what the court intends to do,” Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said at a meeting in Orange Beach, Ala. “… I think we do see the court moving toward handing down a decision that would place same-sex marriage as a 14th Amendment issue.”
The 14th Amendment mandates that a state not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Alabama had asked the high court to delay enforcement of a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban of same-sex marriage until the Supreme Court rules on the issue nationwide. Seven justices agreed to deny the stay, but Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented.
“When courts declare state laws unconstitutional and enjoin state officials from enforcing them, our ordinary practice is to suspend those injunctions from taking effect pending appellate review,” Thomas wrote. “… Yet rather than treat like applicants alike, the Court looks the other way as yet another Federal District Judge casts aside state laws without making any effort to preserve the status quo pending the Court’s resolution of a constitutional question it left open” in a 2013 ruling. The ruling struck down a federal definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman but stopped short of legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
Thomas concluded, “This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question. This is not the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities. And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is.”
Moore said religious liberty considerations are “probably something that will have to wait for a different court decision.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press