Religious leaders, Nashville attorney react to Supreme Court ruling on gay rights

2:11 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
Gay rights supporter Jay Norris, of New York City, holds a U.S. flag outside the U.S. Supreme Court building June 26, 2013 in Washington, DC.(Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images)
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Written by Heidi Hall, The Tennessean

Updated at 11:13 a.m.: Religious leaders respond

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, was surprised that justices made such a sweeping ruling in striking down DOMA. They ruled that the law was unconstitutional in part on the grounds of human dignity - that some same sex couples were consider less valuable than other married couples.

He said that the ruling is a sign that traditional Christianity and American culture have parted ways.

"This decision demolishes the myth that orthodox Christianity represents some kind of moral majority in this country," he said.

Moore said that churches have failed to make a distinction between secular and religious views of marriage. He said the ruling will likely bring an end to the "marrying parsons" - clergy who marry couples without making any religious demands on them.

Baptists and Catholics, among others, he said, believe that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman and their God.

"An eclipse of traditional marriage has gospel implications," he said "Marriage is a picture, an imbedded icon of Christ and the church."

The Rev. Greg Bullard of Covenant of the Cross in Madison, Tenn., applauded today's decision.

Bullard, who married his partner in a same sex religious ceremony in 2006, was putting his infant son in a car seat when reached about the ruling.

He said that the government will no longer be enforcing a specific religious view when it comes to marriage.

"This to me is the government saying that we are not going to take part of in your religious wars anymore," he said. "We are going to be a government for all the people."

REPORTED EARLIER

This morning's Supreme Court's overturning of DOMA will provide huge relief for same-sex, married couples living in a third of the country, where same-sex marriage is recognized, said Nashville attorney Abby Rubenfeld.

The question is what it can do for Tennessee's same-sex couples who married elsewhere and live here, and she'll challenge that in state courts as soon as possible.

"I already have people lined up," said Rubenfeld, former legal director for Lambda Legal Defense. "The important point is the decision today, the relief it gives people. But I think the reasoning of this decision is really, really clear.

"Mini DOMAs in Tennessee and other states are all unconstitutional. They treat people differently. That doesn't meet the minimum standard."

The ruling is clear that same-sex, married couples will be able to file their federal income taxes jointly, she said. Questions remain about state income taxes, being forced to testify against a same-sex spouse, children born to same-sex couples and other issues.

Rubenfeld married her wife in California in 2008 before Prop 8 went into effect, meaning her marriage was recognized there before a separate Supreme Court ruling affecting that state today. The court today also overturned Prop 8, reopening the door for legally recognized same-sex marriages there.

Tennessee banned same-sex marriage by state statute in 1996 and by constitutional amendment in 2006.

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