Dear Congressman Schilling,
In 1996, the duly elected officials of the US Senate and the US House of Representatives passed the Defense of Marriage Act by strong margins (85-14 and 342-67, respectively). President Clinton, in turn, signed it into law.
Though a federal judge wrongly ruled last year that the act is unconstitutional, that decision is under appeal. This means, of course, that the President is still obligated to enforce DOMA it until the appellate process is exhausted. Yesterday, however, President Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced that the US Department of Justice will no longer legally defend Section 3 of DOMA, the section that defines marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. In an obvious and disappointing effort to pander to his political base, President Obama has arbitrarily concluded that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. I find this politicization of the Justice Department positively reprehensible.
I am appealing to you, my elected representative, to apply your own congressional authority to independently defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. The President and the Justice Department clearly have no interest in preserving this sacred institution, and President Obama has abandoned his constitutional role to defend federal laws enacted by Congress. I beg you to do what he won’t.
As a pastor, I consider DOMA’s Section 3 to be a vital legal protection for me. It preserves the right of individual states to govern themselves with respect to family-related laws and policies. It is also a potent impediment to judicial activism.
Congressman, I would surrender my church, my ministry, my property, my liberty, and even my life before I would solemnize or officially recognize any union that flies in the face of the Bible’s definition of marriage. The President’s action – or rather, inaction – is a step closer to a day when Bible-believing pastors who refuse to perform same-sex ceremonies will face civil and even criminal penalties for our unwillingness to compromise on the Word of God. While that is a price that I’m prepared to pay, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is a valuable precedent that bolsters my own defense against ever having to make such a choice. It should be preserved and I am counting on you and your colleagues to do just that.
Thank you for your service to our great republic. May God bless you.
Pastor Jim Bennett