Skip to main content

Supreme Court got it wrong on gay marriage

By Ryan T. Anderson, Special to CNN
updated 2:12 PM EDT, Wed June 26, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ryan Anderson: Supreme Court's decisions on marriage law are disturbing
  • He says the court got it wrong on the federal DOMA and California's Prop 8
  • Anderson: Marriage is about the union of one man and one woman

Editor's note: Ryan T. Anderson is the William E. Simon fellow at The Heritage Foundation and co-author with Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of the book "What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense" (Encounter, 2012)

(CNN) -- The Supreme Court on Wednesday announced disturbing decisions on two important cases regarding marriage law, but the high court refused to create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

In striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the court declared that the federal government can't define marriage as the union of one man and one woman for its own policies and laws but must accept whatever the states decide about marriage. The court's ruling, though, doesn't affect Section 2, which provides that no state is required to give effect to another state's recognition of same-sex marriages.

The court got it wrong with DOMA. The justices ignored the votes of large, bipartisan majorities in Congress in 1996. It is absurd for the court to suggest that Congress doesn't have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes that Congress itself enacts. This is a serious loss for federalism and democratic self-government. We must work to reverse it -- and to defend the rights of all Americans to make marriage policy.

Ryan T. Anderson
Ryan T. Anderson

In its ruling on California's Proposition 8 (which defined marriage in that state as the union of one man and one woman), the Supreme Court declared that the citizen group that sponsored the initiative didn't have standing to defend the state constitutional amendment that millions of Californians voted to pass.

Kennedy's same-sex marriage legacy
Toobin: Prop 8 ruling 'puzzling'

The only reason this jurisdiction question was an issue is because the governor and attorney general of California decided to not defend a law passed by the people. Although the government of California through inaction tried to silence the voices of Californians, the court didn't create a right to redefine marriage.

Marriage laws in the states that tell the truth about marriage -- that it is a union of one man and one woman to provide children with a mom and a dad -- were not struck down. We must now work to protect marriage laws in 37 other states.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ryan T. Anderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:15 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 1:28 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT