America’s justice system does more than deal with deciding the guilt or innocence of alleged criminals, or settling civil suits between two parties where a crime has not occurred. The federal courts often rule on the constitutionality of a law, and it never fails that regardless their decision one of the parties refuses to accept the decision; particularly if the court rules against a law founded on religion. Last weekend in a very religious state a federal judge ruled that a law forbidding two people who love each other from marrying was unconstitutional, and it sent religious conservatives into a frenzied panic because a federal judge struck down what they thought was their dog-given right to impose biblical law on people who do not subscribe to the Mormon religion.
After a federal court ruling overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage on Thursday, the Republican theocratic party went berserk and immediately filed an emergency motion for a temporary stay the next day; likely because it was inconceivable that a federal court would curtail the Mormon’s right to impose the bible as law. It is likely that Utah Republicans, especially Governor Gary Herbert (R), denounced the decision and threatened the federal court that he intended to appeal the ruling because it violated his Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) dogma forbidding one class of people from marrying the person they love. Directly following the ruling, same-sex couples rushed to the country clerk’s office to procure marriage licenses and enjoy the same rights as couples of the opposite sex. The ruling was another case of a powerful religious organization practiced in demonizing and punishing an entire class of Americans seeing their dominance shot down by the United States Constitution that would have made Founding Father Thomas Jefferson celebrate.
Even though federal courts are tasked with ruling on the Constitutionality of laws, and Mormon Governor Herbert swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, he followed through on his threat after denouncing the decision where he said, “I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.” Herbert followed through on his threat and appealed to the 10th Circuit Appeals Court to put a stop to equal rights for same-sex couples. They promptly denied the governor’s emergency request “without prejudice” because “the motion before us does not meet the requirements of the Federal or local appellate rules governing a request for a stay, we deny the motion.”
According to the 10th Circuit’s ruling, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the local rules of this court provided and set out the requirements for a stay pending appeal, and they noted that the defendants-appellants “acknowledged that they have not addressed, let alone satisfied, the factors that must be established to be entitled to a stay pending appeal.” It is likely that because they are Mormons and rule of their own accord in Utah, they felt they were not bound by requirements for a stay pending appeal. It is highly probable that regardless how a higher court rules on appeal, the Mormons could not, and would not, allow any same-sex marriages to go forward in the interim because the LDS church has set in stone that, like the National Organization for Marriage, only the union of one man and one woman is accepted as legal. Regardless if Republicans prevail on appeal, same-sex marriages will be allowed to stand.
What the 10th Circuit found, like the federal district court ruling Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, is that Governor Herbert or the overriding will of the people of Utah cannot infringe on same-sex couples by violating their “rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.” The original ruling, by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, noted that the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any conceivable way. Shelby wrote that “In the absence of such evidence, the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens.”
The Mormon argument that same-sex marriages destroy opposite-sex marriages is precisely what they spent untold dollars in California to convince ignorant voters to pass the unconstitutional Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. It is likely Mormons, like NOM, know that gays enjoying equal rights to marry the person they love does not destroy unions in traditional, one man, one woman, marriages, but it is a favorite argument that frightens insecure opposite-sex couples and religious sycophants into voting to violate gay couples’ “rights to due process and equal protection” guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.
Governor Herbert’s claim that an “activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah” is another well-rehearsed complaint of religious groups to cover a majority’s right to deny a minority their Constitutional protections and is routinely struck down by the courts. The Mormon church on Friday said it stands by its support for “traditional marriage” and “continues to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.” That view is predicated on forcing a religious belief on all Americans and the Constitution is crystal clear that government shall “make no law respecting an establishment of religion;” especially a law establishing one religion’s right to violate other Americans 14th Amendment rights whether or not the will of the people demand it.
America is changing, and finally reverting to the nation’s founding document to bring religious imposition based on the bible to the end it deserves. It is remarkable that any, and every, time a federal court rules that laws based on the bible are unconstitutional and violate some Americans’ 14th Amendment rights, Republicans, particularly religious Republicans, make the same accusation that an activist judge is overriding the will of the people. What irks Mormons, evangelicals, and any religious group seeking to force their dogmata and beliefs on the people is that despite their machinations, the bible is not, and never will be, the Constitution and America’s justice system is not about to let it be.
BONUS: Betty Bowers explains Bible Based Marriages.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.