Ethics Statements

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Same-Sex "Marriage" Public Policy Statement

Definition and History of Marriage
Marriage is a consensual, exclusive and lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, expressed in a physical union uniquely designed to produce and nurture children.

The universal recognition of conjugal marriage by virtually every civilization throughout history, arrived at from both secular and theistic perspectives, testifies to the natural evidence for marriage, its objective structure and its significant contribution to human flourishing and societal stability (see Public Policy statement on Marriage for a theistic perspective).

Contemporary Revisions
Ignoring millennia of legal and cultural affirmation of conjugal marriage, a radical revisionist view would uproot and replace marriage with a subjective notion based on emotional relationship, divorced from the natural and objective marital elements of physical union and procreation. While this revisionist notion initially has led to the cultural acceptance and legal sanctioning of "same-sex marriage," its abject subjectivity offers no rational parameters that would exclude further redefinitions of "marriage" as between multiple partners or related persons (see ethics statement on Homosexuality).

An affirmation of the exclusivity of marriage as between one man and one woman does not preclude separate personal, societal or legal sanction of any other consensual relationship. The core debate hinges not on a moral evaluation of various types of relationships, but rather on the objective qualities that make marriage, marriage.

Public Policy Context
Government maintains a valid and vital interest in sanctioning conjugal marriage, given demonstrated benefits to children raised by both a mother and a father, economic factors favoring father-mother families and the high cost to government and society when marriage breaks down. In contrast to the decades of research that supports traditional marriage, research has not clearly demonstrated similar benefits associated with “same-sex marriage.”

Court decisions have asserted wrongly that the government's interest in advancing conjugal marriage has no rational basis and can only be based on animus toward those who seek “same-sex marriage." Such judgments lay the legal groundwork for lawsuits, firings, censure, denial of government funds, denial of student organization privileges, loss of professional license and privileges and other severe forms of bias and discrimination against adherents of conjugal marriage.

Faith and Conscience Freedom
(See also ethics statement on Healthcare Right of Conscience.)
America's founders recognized as central to all civil liberties the freedom to think and speak freely and to live out the convictions of conscience. The First Amendment reflects this recognition: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…. ,

To protect such individual freedoms, the Constitution limits the reach of government, as the Declaration of Independence asserts, to the boundaries of self-evident Truths and unalienable Rights endowed by our Creator.

Government unbounded by objective, universally recognized standards can wield its power to abridge faith and conscience freedoms and advance its own ideology, privileging those who submit to the government's view and punishing those who dissent. Once the government adopts an official position that opposition to “same-sex marriage” is based solely on animus and constitutes discrimination, the state can assert a compelling interest to advance this social policy--even if doing so means trampling the rights of religious conscientious objectors. This assertion of government power to enforce the ideology of the state threatens not only the individual exercise of conscience but also the entire constitutional balance of the church-state relationship.

As the Supreme Court was striking down a federal conjugal marriage law, court cases, sanctions and other actions around the country were suggesting an assault against those who hold the conjugal view of marriage. “Same-sex marriage” and homosexuality advocates have successfully challenged, and the government and other institutions have issued penalties against, professionals, private business owners, organizations, students and others who for reasons of faith and conscience decline to participate in homosexuality-related events, ideology and issues.

Such an aggressive, state-sponsored squelching of the free exercise of religion, as expressed in faith-based dissent, creates a powerful deterrent to free speech and the exercise of conscience. Apart from the intervention of courts and/or a reversal of societal values, faithful supporters of conjugal marriage stand to face a virtual ideological Inquisition of increasing intensity.

As assaults on faith and conscience freedoms target commerce including medical practices, physicians stand to face increasing legal challenges, for example, regarding how they counsel patients who are engaging in homosexual activity or questioning their sexual orientation or seeking endorsements to adopt children.

For these reasons, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) strongly support measures to protect rights of faith and conscience in law and policy. Recognizing the imperative of our mission to influence hearts and minds, we also support and encourage educational, professional, advocacy and artistic efforts to influence the culture toward America's historic tolerance of diverse views, free speech and the free exercise of faith and conscience--principles on which the future of our democratic republic rests.

Policy Recommendations
CMDA supports:

A: Legislative Measures that

  • Recognize marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.
    • Accord protections, incentives and privileges that reflect a recognition of the economic, social and child-related benefits to the state of conjugal marriage.
    • Do not conflate conjugal marriage with same-sex relationships. 
  • Comport with the original intent of Amendment XIV of the US Constitution.
    • Maintain equal protection of applicable laws for those who engage in homosexual activity without according special status or privileges based on that activity.
  • Parallel and reinforce the guarantees of the First Amendment of the US Constitution by protecting the broadest possible free exercise of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.
    • Prohibit requiring an individual to perform or assist in the performance of any program or activity that the individual deems contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.
    • Specifically prohibit adverse governmental actions against any person or other entity that acts in accordance with a religious belief or personal conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.
  • Allow the fullest expression of speech and exercise of faith and do not equate opposition to sexual relations outside of marriage with "hate speech" or "hate crimes."
  • Provide conscience protections for organizations and individuals who hold a conjugal view of marriage and sex, including an ability for those who experience discrimination or other harm on the basis of those convictions to seek justice and compensation in the courts.

B: Executive Actions that:

  • Establish government-wide programs that help eliminate government employment-related barriers to organizations and individuals who hold a conjugal view of marriage and sex.
  • Ensure that federal grant programs do not discriminate against organizations and individuals on the basis of their conjugal view of marriage and sex.
  • Designate impartial agencies and officials to receive complaints and investigate and adjudicate cases of discrimination within the government against organizations and individuals who hold a conjugal view of marriage and sex.
  • Establish programs to advance the study of the personal, social and economic benefits of conjugal marriage and to develop policies designed to help advance these benefits.
  • Establish programs to educate the public about and advance support for religious and conscience freedoms.

C: Judicial Interpretations and Rulings grounded in the historical context and the Founders' original intent in the US Constitution's First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition.

D: Regulatory Measures that enforce freedom-protecting legislation and principles with broad construction, clear definitions and effective compliance measures.

E: Professional Organization and Institutional Policies that protect individuals and organizations who hold a conjugal view of marriage and sex by prohibiting discrimination against them such as the withholding of certification, licensure, advancement, office-holding, or other privileges or benefits.

Adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees on September 18, 2014.
Revision adopted unanimously by CMDA Board of Trustees on January 23, 2016

Download file Same-Sex Marriage Public Policy Statement with References