(Please note that this post is informed by views expressed in Part One and Part Two of the series.)
In Part 3 of this exploration, I would like to examine not the morality of Gay marriage, but the Constitutionality. At the heart of this issue lies the intention of the Constitution of the United States to "...secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." (Preamble) The Church teaches that same-sex marriage is immoral and therefore should not be allowed. This religious argument is contrary to the First Amendment, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" The framers thus sought to protect all Americans from the religious zealotry of a few. Some religious groups do not allow same-gender marriages, and others now recognize those marriages, even allowing clergy in local areas to perform same-gender marriage ceremonies. Should Americans be made to honor a conception of the Creator they don’t agree with? Of course not! This is why we have separation of Church and State.
The LDS Church has thrown a lot of time and money into supporting amendments to the federal and to state Constitutions which would preserve "traditional" marriage. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not feasible, as such decisions are clearly left up to the states to decide (Tenth Amendment). Besides, the blatant discrimination would violate Amendment Fourteen, which states: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state 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." Such an Amendment is as laughable as the first proposed Constitutional Amendment on the subject of marriage (1912):
Congressional Record, 62nd Cong., 3rd sess., Dec. 11, 1912. Vol 49, p. 502
Mr. RODDENBERY. ( ... ) The resolution to which I make reference is one already introduced by me, providing for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, with the usual resolving clause, and the article is as follows:
That intermarriage between negroes or persons of color and Caucasians or any other character of persons within the United States or any territory under their jurisdiction, is forever prohibited; and the term "negro or person of color," as here employed, shall be held to mean any and all persons of African descent or having any trace of African or negro blood.
This proposed amendment was unconstitutional because it denied one group of people the equal protection of law (Article Four, Amendment Nine and Fourteen).
The Federal Marriage Amendment, which is supported by the Church treads upon the same shaky ground. It's been very confusing to me to see how the Church feels free to step in to this "moral issue," even though it is one which threatens the Constitutional rights of a large group of people. Perhaps what bothers me the most is the wording of the proposed amendments to both Federal and various state Constitutions, which would define marriage in the United States as a union of one man and one woman. By supporting this, is the Church burning all of its bridges and more or less making a declaration that it will never again practice or support polygamy? It feels like a repudiation and denial of our past.
Though I don't believe the Church as an institution should directly interfere in these matters, it seems to me that if they were to support a course of action to reinforce the moral stand they have taken, they should look at how the issue was handled in Vermont. This state allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions or domestic partnerships that provide some of the rights and responsibilities of marriage under state law. This protects the unique institution of conjugal marriage and does not force any religious group to change its theology or traditions, as well as preserving Constitutional rights.
Readers, do you think the Church's involvement in the proposed marriage amendments is supportive of the Constitution (our Heavenly Banner)? Do you think that by supporting marriage for one man and one woman the Church is repudiating plural marriage as an eternal principle?
My brethren and sisters, I hope that we will go home from this conference determined as a great body of people, to stand for law, order, righteousness, justice and peace on earth and good will among all men. I believe as the Prophet Joseph has written, that the day would come when there would be so much of disorder, of secret combinations taking the law into their own hands, tramping upon Constitutional rights and the liberties of the people, that the Constitution would hang as by a thread. Yes, but it will still hang, and there will be enough of good people, many who may not belong to our Church at all, people who have respect for law and for order, and for Constitutional rights, who will rally around with us and save the Constitution. I have never read that that thread would be cut. It will hang; the Constitution will abide and this civilization, that the Lord has caused to be built up, will stand fortified through the power of God, by putting from our hearts all that is evil, or that is wrong in the sight of God, by our living as we should live, acceptable to him. (Charles W. Nibley, Conference Report, October 1922, p. 40.)
It was Joseph Smith who has been quoted as having said that the time would come when the Constitution would hang as by a thread and at that time when it was thus in jeopardy, the elders of this Church would step forth and save it from destruction.
Why the elders of this Church? Would it be sacrilegious to paraphrase the words of the Apostle Peter, and say that the Constitution of the United States could be saved by the elders of this Church because this Church and this Church alone has the words of eternal life? We alone know by revelation as to how the Constitution came into being, and we, alone, know by revelation the destiny of this nation. The preservation of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” can be guaranteed upon no other basis than upon a sincere faith and testimony of the divinity of these teachings. (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1952, p. 18.)