6.26.2015

Marriage Remains God's Design

Today the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) redefined marriage to accommodate mono-gender sexuality. While disappointed in our High Court's understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law across America, I am not saddened or disheartened, but resolved that as Christians we will continue to live for Jesus Christ, and must do so now more than ever in our marriages and our families as we raise the next generation of children for our national strength.

Today's SCOTUS decision marks the fourth major homosexual rights ruling by Justice Anthony Kennedy: Lawrence (2000), Romer(200?), Windsor (2013), and now Obergfell (2015), each time using sweeping language in describing new and never conceived rights in the constitution. (To learn more about these previous opinions download and read http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462093.) Using equal protection language from the 14th Amendment with a due process analysis to justify historical changes to marriage, the Court has found a new fundamental right which will expand marriage toward a broader spectrum than was ever expected when women gained rights toward equality in modern marriage law.  Using the examples of legal movement away from arranged marriage and away from coverture in Old English Common Law the Court justified today's ruling as  a continuation of those "deep transformations" in the structure of marriage.  This combined with notions of autonomy developed in the abortion rights cases J. Kennedy applied his Casey analysis of personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy to include intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs, moving from the seed of Casey toward an autonomous sexualization of culture and gender. These changes will bring harm to women and children inevitably. (To see how this is already occurring, download and read http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2551304.) In our brief on how this case will do so Prof. John Easton of Chapman Law School and I state:

Throughout the history of civilization, marriage's universally defining feature has been the uniting of man and woman. That timeless conception of marriage has been society's best means of connecting men to the women who bear their children and ensuring that they collectively remain a family. For centuries, that understanding of marriage has served to forestall the ills—especially to women, children, and underprivileged populations—that all too often result when society separates sex, procreation, and childrearing. It has provided stability where there might otherwise be disorder. Where it has flourished, marriage has greatly benefited society, as well as children and adults (both men and women) in married households, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds.

Now at a time in American culture when father absence is rising to levels devastating to children and their families (download and read http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462112), the High Court has legitimized that harm to children of growing up deprived of a father, or a mother to protect adult sexual autonomy.  As J. Roberts stated in his dissent, today "do not celebrate the constitution. It had nothing to do with it." In fact, religiously affiliated law schools like Regent University have a constitutional and international human right of conscience to continue to require employees and students to adhere to a standard of conduct that reflects their sincerely held belief that God instituted marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Today Christians can rejoice that marriage as God designed it cannot be altered by the Supreme Court.  Rather, we must live to strengthen our own marriages and to teach our children as per Deus. 6: 4-9 of the Commandments of the Great I AM.  

 
Law is more than a profession - it's a calling.
 

6.24.2015

Can’t Buy Me Love?

This guest post is drafted by Regent Oxford Law students Kathleen Knudsen and Joseph Kohm:
Can a woman or man of economic means dictate who she or he will marry? Or who their children will marry?  Yesterday the Regent Oxford Program students visited Blenheim Palace and discovered otherwise.

Imagine being seventeen years old and in love. Then one day your mother insists that you marry someone whom you have never met, from another country and another culture. When you refuse, you are locked in a room until you agreed to marry this unknown person. This is the true story of Consuelo Vanderbilt, only daughter and eldest child of William Vanderbilt, New York railroad millionaire.  

On November 6, 1895, against her wishes, Consuelo was married to Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. The marriage made Consuelo a duchess and gave the Duke of Marlborough $2.5 million of Vanderbilt money (worth over $70 million in 2014 dollars). Their story is one of the many immortalized at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, England.

Home of the current Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace originated when Queen Anne conferred the Oxfordshire estate on the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his victory at Blenheim, Austria in the War of Spanish Succession. It takes a lot of funds, however, to maintain a palace over the centuries, and by the early 1900s Blenheim Palace needed a major makeover.  That prompted the then Duke of Marlborough to arrange the marriage of his son to the American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.  Portraits of the Duchess Consuelo are throughout the Palace.  This money-for-title marriage illustrates the bleak reality that economic pressures impact marriage decisions.

Like a good exchange, both families had what the other wanted: the poor British needed money, and Americans lacked noble titles in their heritage. And though this appeared to be a marriage of solid political and financial advantage, it was not effective to generate happiness in either party to the marriage.  Consuelo even referred to her two sons as “the Heir and the Spare,” as only the eldest would inherit the estate under English law. Their marriage ended in divorce twelve years later.

Ironically, the richest family in the world could buy whatever they wanted, even a noble title, but they did not buy happiness for their own daughter. While money can’t buy love it may still be the best default for some conflicts ; or consider the latest twist on the rich girl dilemma

This English-American marriage liaison illustrates that marriage for political or financial benefit, nonetheless, does not inherently or necessarily foster a strong family or family restoration. But the Oxford group of Regent students enjoyed every minute!


6.23.2015

Marriage Judicially Defined?

This week the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will likely render a decision on marriage law that will have a direct impact and collateral effect throughout the nation.  Oral arguments on this issue convened on April 28th (Obergefell vs. Hodges), and the decision is expected by the end of June, 2015. Five lawyers representing clients in favor of expanding marriage to include same-sex couples argued against the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, all of which have upheld marriage's definition. Courts have struck down laws protecting marriage in other states, including Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. SCOTUS will decide ifhomosexual couples have a constitutional right to marry or whether state laws protecting marriage can remain in place. Much is at stake regarding this decision.

The High Court addressed two questions only:
  1. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
  2. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state? 

Pray for the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and their decision on marriage  

Possible outcomes expected from this decision include:
  1. The High Court recognizes  that the Constitution, being silent on the issue of marriage, allows states the freedom to safeguard marriage as the union between one man and one woman through the democratic process. In this scenario, states are not compelled to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states. This would be the least damaging decision the court could make. (NO on both 1 and 2 above.)

  2. The Court decides that while there's no constitutional "right" to same-sex marriage, states that adhere to God's design for marriage will be compelled to recognize same-sex marriages licensed by other states. (NO on 1, and YES on 2 above.) That would require traditional marriage states to provide all the same rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples married elsewhere, eventually leading to a de facto redefinition of marriage in the entire nation. While this does vindicate that there is no constitutional "right" to same-sex marriage, this decision would still negatively impact parental rights in education and religious liberties and conscience rights of business owners and others across the country.

  3. The Supreme Court finds a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, thus legalizing such unions at the federal and state levels across the entire country. (YES on both 1 and 2.) This would automatically redefine all states' marriage laws, overturning 31 democratically enacted marriage amendments and ignoring the will of more than 60 percent of American voters who have cast ballots to maintain the traditional definition of marriage in their states.

"...Two out of the three most likely outcomes include an immediate or eventual redefinition of marriage – and as much as we are praying and hoping for the first outcome, many analysts believe it's a longshot. This means that it's entirely realistic to anticipate the Court might impose a definition of marriage on a country that's deeply divided on this important issue. For many of us, this decision would counter our deeply held faith beliefs and directly infringe upon our religious freedoms. If Roe v. Wade has taught us anything, it's that Americans don't simply acquiesce to rulings by Supreme Court decree when it comes to these deep moral issues." 


The proliferation and recognition of expanded marriage options will have a severe effect of family deconstruction rather than family restoration.  (See http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=269418).  Marriage was designed and will always be defined by a power much higher than the Supreme Court of the United States.  Family Restoration depends on that.

6.22.2015

Regent Law in Oxford studying Marriage Law & Economics

This summer Regent Law, Government, and Undergraduate students are studying in Oxford, England in a course entitled "Economics, Law & Literature of Marriage: UK & US 1720-2020." Marriage economics is a hot topic as the law of marriage faces dramatic change.

Jane Austen understood well the marriage financial connection: Image result for jane austen banknote concept"Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor – which is one very strong argument in favor of Matrimony..." Nineteenth century novelist Jane Austen, a single woman all her life in a socio-legal culture that afforded women no legal or economic rights, understood the consequences of a lack of income and wealth, and wrote about it from a perspective that entertained millions while teaching readers about old English laws of primogeniture and the consequences to single women. How fitting that she's the newest woman on the British 10 pound bank note. Read how "Baby Mama Drama Meets Jane Austen" >.

While never a mother, Austen's insight and advice on money, finances, and families are salient today in a prospective analysis of broken or never-formed families, commonly described as family fragmentation, popularized as Baby Mama Drama.
The course will cover material on marriage law and economics from an historic and legal perspective of dramatic effect and change, from the old English laws of couverture and primogeniture to modern dilemmas of child marriage, marriage by consent, family fragmentation, and gendercide.  Family fragmentation, a very timely aspect of this topic, has significant societal effects as never-formed families are generally characterized by non-marital childbearing, and impoverished single mothers with young children. Add the drop in marriage rates in the United States, and unmarried child bearing is the essence of a never-formed family, contributing to a very noticeable gap in marriage and income inequality.  Indeed... money affects families and their restoration. "These matters are always a secret, till it is found that everybody knows them." Jane Austen, via Mr. Weston, in Emma. This course presents an exciting learning experience in every way for Regent students.