County Clerk Lynn Ellins’ has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ellins’ decision was followed by the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision in Elane Photography, LLC, v. Willock, on Thursday, which held that photographers cannot refuse to photograph same-sex couples at a gay ceremony under the New Mexico Human Right’s Act—even if it violates the tenets of their own religion. According to the Court, operating a small business in New Mexico means you must agree to give up your Constitutional right to practice your religion as you see fit. This is a violation of one of our most basic human freedoms.
So in one fell swoop, Lynn Ellins has cast off the plain clothes of a county clerk, and put on the robe of a judge; interpreting the Constitution, and deciding what the law is for all Doña Ana residents. And thanks to a wholly liberal Supreme Court, New Mexicans are now in an impossible position—compromise your religious beliefs or give up your livelihood. This is now the law of the land... of enchantment?
Forgive me if I am disenchanted.
When I talk with Dona Ana Republicans, they are upset for several reasons. They are upset about Ellins exceeding the authority granted to him as a clerk. Others are upset because gay marriage is not consistent with their values. Some think that social issues are not as important, but see government overreach. All are calling for action. But to what end?
The reality is this. Attorney general Gary King, a democrat, said his office will not file a legal action to stop Ellins. I personally believe Ellins made his decision in the hopes that it would expedite legal action. Why? The State Supreme Court is completely comprised of democrats and Ellins knows they will affirm his decision. It’s not a question of if, but when.
Governor Martinez issued a statement on Wednesday that any change regarding marriage should be made by the people of New Mexico and called for a Constitutional Amendment. Governor Martinez’ approach is consistent with the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Is this the answer? Only time will tell. But know this; any state marriage amendment will ultimately be appealed by gay rights activists to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court recently held that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples. In light of this, the U.S. Supreme will likely reject an amendment defining traditional marriage between man and a woman as unconstitutional for the same reasons.
So what is the solution to the Ellins debacle, the fight for traditional marriage, and the Elane Photography decision?
Get the government out of marriage and our private business affairs.
The Republican Party is at a crossroads. It has surrendered to the notion that the government—a man-made institution—has the moral, legal and constitutional power, to define marriage or compel behavior. To suggest that government can redefine marriage or to force someone to abandon their religious convictions is antithetical to the principal value upon which America was founded. Both parties have let us get here. But understand this: Our Party can begin to turn this around. The government is not sovereign. Thomas Jefferson acknowledged this when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our rights are inalienable — they cannot be separated from us — because we have been endowed with them by our Creator.
Yet, by ignoring the wisdom of the Founders, we have invited all of the machinations that come with the secular legal process. A hallmark of the secular-progressive is that truth is relative and open to reinterpretation. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that marriage and the protections afforded by the Constitution and Bill of Rights are being redefined (or ignored) to accommodate our increasingly liberal courts’ equal protection analysis under the law. Sadly, truth has become the casualty.
The concept of meaning and truth in our culture has changed dramatically over the last half-century. Historical scholars, judges, and priests were once tasked with the responsibility to find the fixed meaning of a text, whether it be an essay, the Constitution, or the Bible. Their professional integrity demanded that they justify and explain the texts with historical and grammatical arguments. Meaning in texts was not created. It was found. Authors had intentions and it was a matter of integrity to find what a writer intended. Common sense tells us that if a person writes “no” and someone else creatively interprets it to mean “yes,” a lie has been perpetrated.
This is why progressives are so enamored with the “living Constitution.” With this interpretative freedom, they can create out of nothing a definition of marriage that has never existed. They can create case law that mandates we purchase health insurance, or compel individuals to provide business services to persons we disagree with on religious grounds. I believe Republicans must steer clear from this incoherent ideology, even if it makes it more difficult to win elections. If winning means becoming more like a progressive, we all lose. Truth is being perverted and we are slowly being convinced that our rights are not inalienable. It’s time to wake up. Say it with me: “Our rights are inalienable — they cannot be separated from us — because we have been endowed with them by our Creator.” Repeat this until you believe it again.
Republicans instinctively defend our core values by referring to natural law concepts acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or more authoritatively, the Bible. For example, Republicans routinely appeal to the Bible as the source of authority to defend the definition of traditional marriage. In particular, Genesis 2:24 and Mark 10:6–7.
Yet, we hamstring ourselves by fighting secularist-progressives on their battle ground. Namely, that our fundamental rights come from the government and not our Creator. Though well intentioned, we have welcomed the government into our marriages by promoting subsidies and tax breaks in order to promote the nuclear family. This has unintended consequences. By providing government benefits to some and withholding from others, we provide the very legal foothold progressives need to establish grounds for a lawsuit based on discrimination. In this writer's opinion, when we remove marriage from government control, we save it. If government has to be involved, it should only be at the State level in accordance with the Constitution.
Progressives want conservatives to base our arguments on ever-changing societal norms and “tradition” instead of the Constitution and natural law. Why? Because progressive reforms can infiltrate, endure and become the new “tradition.” When Republicans are complicit in creating meaning never contemplated by the authors of the Constitution, we lose our intellectual ammunition and end up accepting the change, for better or worse.
Republicans, it is only with an intellectual revolution and a reclaiming of the Constitution that we can effectively fight for religious freedom, marriage, property rights, and free speech. Truth is our strongest weapon. Arm yourself with the truth and change the battlefield.
Start by calling and writing Lynn Ellins, your County Commissioners, the Sun News, the Las Cruces Bulletin, and make your voices heard.