DOMA and Proposition 8

Greg Strand – June 26, 2013 2 Comments

The Supreme Court ruled today on two major marriage issues. In both decisions they favored same-sex “marriage.” (I intentionally place quotation marks around marriage when used with same-sex because I do not consider it a marriage. To use the expression without qualification would mean I accept a redefined understanding of marriage, which I do not.)

The Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Specifically they determined that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to refuse to recognize a same-sex marriage that is legal in a state. They allowed to stand a law that protects states from being forced to recognize a same-sex union that is legal in another state. This federal Act (passed in 1996) defined marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and it granted the right to states that they did not have to recognize other states’ same sex marriages.

In the second ruling, the Court ruled that that Proposition 8, which was voted in by California voters and which overturned the California Supreme Court ruling that had legalized same-sex marriage, was determined unconstitutional.

Mohler’s conclusion is apt:

The Christian church does not ask the U. S. Supreme Court, or any other human court, what marriage is. Marriage is a pre-political institution defined by our Creator — for His glory and for human flourishing. Today’s decisions will create serious religious liberty challenges for all churches, Christian institutions, and Christian citizens in this nation. But the greatest impact of these decisions is the further marginalization and subversion of marriage. The destruction of marriage did not start recently, and it did not start with same-sex marriage, but its effects will be devastating.

Christians will have to think hard — and fast — about these issues and our proper response. We will have to learn an entire new set of missional skills as we seek to remain faithful to Christ in this fast-changing culture.

Here are a few responses to the Supreme Court’s decisions:

Al Mohler, “Waiting for the Other Shoe” – The Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

Russell Moore, “What Did the Supreme Court Really Change Today?

Ed Stetzer, “Prop 8, DOMA, and the Christian Response

Summit Ministries, “The Supreme Court’s Decisions on Marriage


Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to DOMA and Proposition 8

  1. Christopher Barnes July 11, 2013 at 2:26 am

    I appreciate your article and the links. Thank you. I am a little confused, however. I thought on the Prop 8 decision, that the court did not rule directly that it was unconstitutional, but ruled that those trying to defend Prop 8 in court lacked standing since the state itself would not defend it. It seemed from my reading that the lower court was upheld, not on the constitutionality of the Proposition, but on a technicality that the groups behind Prop 8 could not defend it in court. Did I miss something?

    • Christopher, thanks for your reading and interaction.

      Here is what one has written about this: “In a 5-4 decision on Perry, the Court ruled that opponents of same-sex marriage did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss at trial years earlier. The ruling says, “[The Supreme Court has] never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.”

      The Alliance Defense Fund states that same-sex marriage is not yet legal in California, noting, “The bottom line is that the U.S. Supreme Court has thrown Prop 8 into legal limbo. We simply do not know what the fate of Prop 8 will be. But under California law, Prop 8 still stands because there is no appellate court decision striking it down, which is necessary to void an initiative of the people in that state.”

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