Some supporters of traditional marriage may be encouraged by the Supreme Court's decision to keep parts of the Defense of Marriage Act intact and to refuse to declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. They shouldn't be. The assault on marriage won't let up.
The court did a lot of damage to the traditional understanding of marriage and efforts to protect it. It struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In California, it effectively punted, finding it has no way to rule because of a technicality.
Overall, the rulings hasten the day when same-sex marriage will be forced on the American people. For those who believe marriage is between a man and a woman, Wednesday was a clarion call to redouble our efforts.
Why must we continue to fight? Because we know the other side will. A couple of hours after the decisions were announced, President Obama's Organizing for Action sent an email to supporters stating that the rulings were "a call to action." "This is a fight we will win," Mr. Obama's team announced. "We will go state by state if we have to. And OFA is going to be there every step of the way."
With each court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, the country takes another step away from the vision of our Founders, who understood that American exceptionalism is rooted in Judeo-Christian values — values that include the biblical definition of marriage. They understood that our freedom is based not on the liberty to do what we please, but on liberty that comes from God, who teaches that only a virtuous people can remain free.
Our slow movement away from traditional marriage is disheartening, but not surprising. For two generations, secular elites have become increasingly hostile to faith. They have become more willing to use their status in the culture to mold the minds of young Americans into an understanding of marriage that the Founders would not have recognized.
Although it's no surprise that the political left is celebrating the decisions, I'm convinced that some Republicans, particularly in the donor class, were hoping that the court would go further in ruling that restrictions on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. They long for a day in the not-too-distant future when same-sex marriage will be taken off the table as a political issue.
They seem unable to realize that the party is competitive only because the majority of its voters believe in the traditional definition of marriage and find the country's slow move toward redefining marriage abhorrent.
The party will find its voice on this issue only when its leaders understand that marginal tax rates and attractive balance sheets will not save their party if, at the same time, it fails to defend the most cherished values of its voters.
The party will be effective only when it fights for the rights of citizens who engage in the political process — rights that the justices said were under attack. This anti-democratic power grab was noted in Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent. "This case is about power in several respects," he wrote. "It is about the power of our people to govern themselves, and the power of this court to pronounce the law." He continued:
"Today's opinion aggrandizes the latter, with the predictable consequence of diminishing the former. We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court's errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America."
The ultimate goal of homosexual-rights activists is not to legalize same-sex marriage. Rather, it is to silence those who disagree with them and, if necessary, to throw them in jail. In a world in which the biblical viewpoint of marriage is demonized, it does not take a constitutional scholar to predict that soon those who hold that view will find themselves in court.
How did we get to the point where homosexual-rights activists would be clamoring to redefine society's oldest and most reliable institution and people of faith would be worried about being fined or jailed for teaching their faith?
A lot had to happen, and it's not all the left's fault. It took the breakdown of traditional marriage. It took churches deciding that they could accommodate the homosexual culture or ignore it altogether. It took businesses placing their bottom lines ahead of morality. It took politicians who assured voters on the campaign trail that they would protect marriage and then did nothing to keep their promises once they arrived in Washington.
As a society, we have lost the understanding of what marriage is and what the consequences will be if we redefine it. Nobody has the right to redefine marriage. Doing so ignores research that makes clear that children do best when raised by a mother and a father. Nobody has the right to force children to grow up without the unique contributions that a mother and a father provide.
The media and many liberal activists continue to act as though this is only about marriage rights, but it is about much more. It is a battle over religious liberty and, ultimately, over whether America will be completely ripped away from its Judeo-Christian foundation. Wednesday's rulings guarantee that this battle will continue to rage.
Gary Bauer is president of American Values and chairman of Campaign for Working Families.