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January 18, 2011

Court rejects challenge to same-sex marriage in D.C.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a Maryland pastor and others seeking to overturn the District of Columbia's same-sex marriage law.

Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, has led the lawsuit against the district's elections board for rejecting a ballot measure defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman on the District of Columbia ballot.

The Supreme Court turned away the appeal on Tuesday without comment. Washington began recognizing sane-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions in 2009, and began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples last year.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 12:33 PM | | Comments (12)


While it's certainly disappointing the way the Supreme Court ruled on this case, I think it would be a mistake to construe this as a majority on SCOTUS favoring gay marriage. When the MA high court handed its grubby ruling down in 2003, if memory serves correctly, an appeal was filed with SCOTUS and they also turned down the appeal to get involved. Also, don't forget that only 4 justices need to favor getting involved - not a majority and it's almost a certainty that the conservative wing (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) oppose same-sex marriage. Kennedy would probably rule against it in the right circumstances, too.

Steve, the point is that the court chose not to hear the case because it has no merit, because the initiative has no basis in either DC or federal law, and because it is a local issue. Now we will not have to put up with well moneyed conservative wingnuts pumping money into amicus briefs and media posturing. That’s a good thing.

Get used to the fact that marriage equality is here to stay and Maryland is next.


Not disappointing for the gay couples who want to legally protect their families and households.


I am not as informed or as adept at handicapping SCOTUS decisions as you apparently are. So, I will simply applaud this "decision" and remind you of two things:

"Past Performance Is Not an Indication of Future Results"


“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is a good decision. A pastor in MD has no real interest in whatever may or may not be happening outside his state or parish. His followers ought to benefit from his guidance locally.

There are are several things our pastor ought to keep in to keep in mind as the MD General Assembly prepares to legalize secular/civil marriage.

First, marriage equality does not mandate that eligible people get married. It merely permits them to at their own choosing if they feel it's appropriate for them. And that they only receive the state benefits of their marriage contract. Second, no U.S. state would require our Pastor friend to solemnize same sex marriages (See amendments 1 and section 1 of amendment 14 of U.S. Constitution). He can still withhold the sacrament of holy matrimony. If he so chooses.

It's reasonable that the Supreme Court left the affairs of the District of Columbia to the Congress (see section 8 of article 1 of U.S. Constitution) who chose in 2009 not to challenge the will of the D.C. Republic. Oh yeah, and for all the folks who want to vote away equal rights in MD, DC, and elsewhere in the U.S., the U.S. is not a democracy -- it is a Republic (see section 4 of article 4 and amendments 9 and 10 of U.S. Constitution.) I suppose correct is right and we'll get there whether we like it or not.

To those of you using the Bible as a weapon against homosexuality, you are wrong. Homosexuality is not a sin. The Bible is constantly being taken out of context to support anti-gay views. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, Greek temple sex worship, prostitution, pederasty with teen boys, and rape, not homosexuality or two loving consenting adults.

Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

(Change *** to www)

shadow_man actually the reverse is true. Modern scholars looking for a way to rationalize why homosexual acts are ok. The Bible speaks in many places about man and womam and the two becoming one. No where does is mention man and man or woman and woman.

Just looking at Romans 1

"Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. "

Even if you accept this had to do with idolotry or pagan worship rituals no where does it mention when such behavior is acceptable. Nowhere in the Bible are homosexual acts condoned or considered normal.

Your argument is that because – the “Bible speaks in many places about man and woman and the two becoming one, and that it doesn’t mention man and man or woman and woman,” doesn’t really prove anything Anonymous.

Many things are not mentioned in the bible; that doesn’t make them immoral, bad, or evil. Laying on of hands is mentioned, antibiotics are not, for instance. Yes, Paul wrote “Males did shameful things with males.” But that doesn’t mean that men did not also do loving and kind things with other men. If they burned in lust without charity or compassion then that is brutish and I would agree with the word “perverse.”

On the other hand, the bible does not speak of loving same sex couples making a lifetime commitment and serving one another and their community in a spirit of service and charity. Since we are talking about “marriage” here, not “degrading passions,” I think you should find a passage that excludes such marriages. Finding a passage that does not include them will not prove your point. Lack of inclusion is not the same as exclusion.

Finally you say that “Nowhere in the Bible are homosexual acts condoned or considered normal.”

I’ll take “normal” first and simply say that normality is never described in the bible or in our faith (I’m assuming you are Catholic, tell me if I am wrong) as being morally superior. I don’t think anyone would consider Joan of Arc or Father Gabriele Amorth “normal.”

There are no sexual activities that are specifically “condoned” in the bible. Yet you single out same sex loving. Paul suggests a preference for D/s (dominant/submissive) relationships but his preference is not demanded of the flock (anymore). That is about a style of relationship though, it is not about sex. Oral sex, frottage, Intergluteal sex, and Tribadism are all left out of the good book. Does the fact that they are not officially condoned make sinful in your view?

The Bible speaking in many places about man and woman and the two becoming one means everything. It invalidates your attempt to use the argument based on things the Bible doesn't mention. That only works when discussing things which are not covered. In many cases they are things which did not exist during the period the Bible was written. In this case the subject is covered.

1 Corinthians is pretty specific'

"Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Matthew 19:4-5 mentions the subject as well.

Charity and compassion don’t offset or justify acting on lust. Since homosexuality was the subject of the post I responded to I didn’t see the need to get into discussions of other issues. I have to disagree Corinthians is referring to the framework around when sexual activities are condoned. I believe you are stretching to try and justify what you want to believe as opposed to what the Bible is saying.

I do apologize the use of the word normal was a poor word choice on my part. I’ve looked at the verses and others a long time, reflected and prayed on them as well. As much as I’d love to be wrong, I don’t think I am. I haven’t heard an argument yet that doesn’t come off as rationalizing to justify something someone wants to believe. My post was in response to another which I believe to be incorrect. I did not intend to get into a discussion on sex in general.

Just because the bible speaks about a man and a woman becoming one in more than one place there is no reason to say that it “invalidates” my argument. You are correct that my argument only “works when discussing things which are not covered.”

And that’s the whole point; gay marriage isn’t covered, straight marriage is covered. At least we assume that only straight marriage is discussed. We can’t really be sure that the wedding at Cana was between a man and a woman. It goes right back to my example of the fact that the laying on of hands is mentioned but antibiotics were not. Do we conclude that antibiotics are therefore sinful?

Of course not, myrhh was used as an analgesic and an antiseptic and is mentioned in the bible, but marijuana and the opium poppy are not. Does that make them medicinally sinful? Or do we say they are not objectively disordered and only sinful when actually used to treat illness?

The best arguments to be made against same sex marriage based on the bible could have been made by then Cardinal Ratzinger when he was younger and a little faster on his intellectual feet. Fortunately for the LGBT community there is no one in the Catholic camp with the intellectual rigor to do what he could have done when he was still on his game. JMJ!

Dana I understand what you are trying to say. I just don't agree with your conclusions. That said I do respect your ability to make you point with out appeals to ridicule or personal attacks. Likely we will never agree on the subject. As I said I hope and pray you are right and I am wrong.

May God Bless you and your family.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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