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President Obama Orders Justice Department to No Longer Defend Marriage

By Deacon Keith Fournier
February 27th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Fifteen years ago Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act. It was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. On February 23, 2011, President Barack Obama unilaterally ordered the US Justice Department to stop defending marriage. The Attorney General sent a five-page letter simply announcing the President's decision to the Congress. Government has long regulated marriage for the common good and the President's action is a threat to the common good.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On February 23, 2011, President Barack Obama ordered the US Justice Department to stop defending marriage. The Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder,  the Nation's Chief Law Enforcement Officer released a statement which can be read in its entirety here. The Attorney General sent a five-page letter to Congress setting forth the President's decision to no longer enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. It was a copiously footnoted effort to legally defend the President's unilateral decision to not defend Federal law. The letter can be read here.

The President's Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at an afternoon briefing that the President has always opposed the Defense of Marriage Act but that personally he is "still wrestling" with his view on "gay marriage."  This kind of false dichotomy between the President's "personal opinion" and his executive leadership reminded me of his contrived "moral" struggle over abortion. President Obama is the most Pro-Abortion President in the history of the United States. His policies make that clear, no matter what his rhetoric tries to pretend. He still has the audacity to speak of his "moral" concerns over the matter. In 2008 he said, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix." Now, look at what he has done. To use an old adage, he cries "crocodile tears."

Here is the game plan: make defending life and marriage sound "religious" and then argue that "religious" positions have no place in public policy. However, the truth about human life is written in the Natural Law and confirmed by medical science. We operate on our youngest neighbors in the womb. We prosecute criminals who kill them during the commission of another crime. Defending the intentional killing of these children at any time and for any reason is based on a notion of "freedom" as a raw power over those who are vulnerable and not wanted. The civil law manufactured a profane "right" to kill them. 

Now the assault on marriage is underway with full force. Marriage is not simply a "religious" construct.  The Natural Law reveals - and the cross cultural history of civilization affirms - that marriage is between a man and a woman, open to children and intended for life. Marriage is the foundation for the family which is the privileged place for the formation of virtue and character in children, our future citizens. The family is the first society, first economy, first school, first civilizing and mediating institution and first government.

All other government grows out of - and must support and not usurp - the primacy of this first government, the marriage bound family. The effort to force giving equal legal status to relationships which are incapable of being marriages and using the Police Power of the State to enforce this new order is nothing less than a cultural revolution and does not serve the common good.  

Fifteen years ago Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act. It was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. It can be read in its entirety here. Now President Obama has unilaterally decided he will not defend the law. He has ordered the US Justice Department to cease defending Federal Law.

On the day that Barrack Obama took the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States he said these words "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America." Sadly, the America which is emerging denies the fundamental human right to life for every human person from conception to natural death. Now, the President refuses to defend marriage. If we fail to act - the Nation we love may become a place where Catholics and other Christians may be forced to either retreat from participation in commerce and political life or face outright persecution.

The Human Rights Campaign was the first to react to the news, "This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  "As the President has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles."

The Human Rights Campaign is "America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality." They are well-funded and committed to a cultural and social revolution. They poured massive amounts of money and human resources into electing this President. Along with him they are committed to "remaking America."

They advocate what I call the "Homosexual Equivalency Movement". This is not about discrimination against anybody. Homosexual equivalency activists insist that all Americans recognize a legal equivalency between true marriages and cohabitating practicing homosexuals or face legal punitive consequences. They are social and cultural revolutionaries. The Human Rights Campaign uses the Courts and the legislature to force this kind of new America on all of us. Now, they have the unbridled support of the Executive Branch of the Government.

The effort to equate how one engages in non-marital sexual acts with a member of the same sex to being a member of a particular race or gender (thereby making practicing homosexuals a "protected class" for civil rights purposes) is legally and socially dangerous. One is a status; the other involves a behavior and a lifestyle. To confine marriage to heterosexual couples is not discriminatory. Homosexual couples cannot bring into existence what marriage intends by its very definition.

This week we mourned the passing of a Pro-Life giant, Dr. Bernard "Bernie" Nathanson. Bernie was quite vocal concerning the verbal strategy of the movement he helped to found before he came to see the truth about the humanity of the child in the womb and became one of the great Pro-Life leaders of our age.  He was a friend. I will always remember his passion when he spoke of the strategic use of the word "choice" to hide the evil of procured abortion. He said it was the turning point in the public debate. He was correct.

Every law student learns that the one who frames the issue usually wins the argument. A shift occurs first in language.  The Press went from speaking of the Right to Life, which is the real issue, to defending a so called "Right" to abortion. Defenders of our first neighbors in the womb went from being identified as Pro-Life to being called "Anti-Abortion Rights". I thought of Bernie when I read the news today. Did you notice the titles of most of the articles? They framed the issue, "President Will No Longer Defend Anti-gay Marriage Law."  Homosexual Equivalency Activists are assisted by some in the media who support their cultural agenda.

In his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Charity, Pope Benedict summarized the duty of the Catholic faithful when confronted with this assault on authentic marriage:  "Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself." Those who support marriage as a lifelong committed relationship between one man and one woman are being pilloried in the press. No matter where one stands on other issues, if you support marriage - as marriage - you are being brushed with all the disparaging terms thrown at people who insist that there is any such a thing as objective truth in an age of moral relativism.

In order to help us to comprehend what is really occurring let me borrow a Property Rights Analogy. It does not even come close in terms of the magnitude of the danger we now face because persons and their flourishing are so much more vitally important than the ownership of property. However, it may help to unmask the tactics being used.

We still defend the private ownership of property as a "right". Let's say that next year; a group among us had decided that "private property" should mean that our land also belongs to the neighbors on adjoining land. Why? Because they decided that approach was better and changed the definition. Then they decided to enforce that private opinion upon the broader society, insisting that the law recognize their new definition by giving it an equivalent status to the "traditional" notion of private property. Next the President of the United States decided on his own to no longer defend the right to private property and ordered the Justice Department to no longer defend property ownership.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church addressed growing efforts in some Western nations to redefine marriage in 2003, "The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives."

Government has long regulated marriage for the common good. For example, the ban on polygamy and age requirements were enforced in order to ensure that there was a mature decision at the basis of the Marriage contract. Heterosexual marriage, procreation, and the nurturing of children form the foundation for family and civil society. The President's decision to no longer defend marriage is a threat to the common good and must be opposed.

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