Statement of Penny Nance
CEO and President of Concerned Women for America
Delivered on April 28, 2015, on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court
on the occasion of oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges
What an amazing country we inherited from our forefathers and mothers. I get to stand before the most powerful judicial body in the nation, perhaps the world, and present my members’ position on the issue of the redefinition of marriage. I can do that because the Founders so thoughtfully protected my right to do so in the First Amendment’s right to free speech. The First Amendment also protects other rights, including my right to practice my faith according to the dictates of my conscience. Now, not everyone standing here today may like the dictates of my conscience. That’s okay. I still love you, and I support your right to be here advocating your beliefs, too.
Jesus died for you just like He did me, and anyone who doesn’t believe that doesn’t understand the Gospel. True Christians know that we are all sinners. It’s just that what you’re asking us to accept goes to the very root of our theology. God designed marriage both as the preeminent and essential foundation for civilization in order to provide children stable homes and as a Holy symbol of Christ and the Church. Marriage is in trouble from divorce and cohabitation, too. Let’s not diminish it further.
The fact remains that here we stand, divided on a basic pillar of civilization. The question today is not really if you are right or I am right. It’s whether or not in one fell swoop the SCOTUS will shut down our ability to continue to grapple with this question. The court can decline to mandate same-sex “marriage” on every state, regardless of how its citizens have voted. The Constitution leaves marriage to the states. If, as some say, public opinion has turned, and it’s settled, then same-sex “marriage” advocates should begin their own effort to amend the Constitution or else allow the history they are so fond of brandishing, take its course.
What none of us should want is a replay of the 1973 SCOTUS decision on abortion. Roe v. Wade was supposed to settle law, but no one thinks that’s the case. Instead, every cold January, hundreds of thousands of people stand on the National Mall and march up Constitution Avenue to this court, urging it to recognize the sanctity of life. If anything, the issue of abortion is less settled then it was 42 years ago.
The issue of marriage is at least as controversial as abortion because, aside from taxpayer funding, which is an entanglement, no one is advocating that people of faith participate unwillingly in someone else’s abortion. If advocates for the redefinition of marriage have their way, people of faith will not only be forced to actively participate — at least via commerce — they will also be penalized by loss of job or other sanctions if they don’t. You see, it’s not enough for them that I tolerate their position. Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and others are to be forced into submission and complicity. And this is the one thing we can never give you. James Madison said, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.” We can love you. We can support you as you navigate life. But we cannot — and will not — ever betray our consciences on this or any other matter.
We ask the Supreme Court to not repeat history but to instead leave this matter to each state to work out in coordination with all of its citizens.