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Protecting Your Christian Ministry From Lawsuits

Any day now, the Supreme Court will be issuing a ruling determining whether the American people have the right to define marriage for themselves.

The outcome of the decision will not end the discussion about marriage and family.

The campaign to empower government at every level to intrude on religious freedom has only begun.

Regardless of the outcome, the assault on religious freedom is likely to continue.

Whether you are part of a church, Christian school, or faith-based ministry, the fact is that the belief that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman is now a legal liability that must be accounted for.

It isn’t just the risk of lawsuits that that you should be concerned about.  In fact, the ability for Christian organizations to operate as non-profit organizations could soon at risk.

During oral arguments at the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Don Verrilli acknowledged that it was “going to be an issue” for non-profit organizations who believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman to maintain their tax exempt status.

To help you protect your church, ministry, or school, our friends at the Alliance Defending Freedom have put together a resource designed to help you avoid legal liability in your sphere of influence.

You can download this resource and share it with others who you think would find it beneficial.

Just as much as the Roe v. Wade decision awakened pro-life Americans, I expect this ruling to re-energize efforts to protect and uphold God’s design for marriage in our culture and our laws.

But in the meantime, it is our hope that this tool will be a resource to equip you protect your church, school, or ministry while you also  stand up for America’s longstanding ideals of religious freedom.

3 Things We Learned from the Supreme Court Yesterday

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two-and-a-half hours on two questions.

1. Is it constitutional for  states to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman?

2. Is one state required to recognize legal marriages in another state?

While it is impossible to know what is going on inside the head of each justice, that won’t stop observers from trying to figure it out.  Without trying to get too far inside anyone’s head, here are a few important things we learned from yesterday’s arguments.

1. Justice Kennedy may be hesitant to tell all of human history they were wrong about marriage.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is generally considered to be the swing vote in this case.  But his question early in the argument indicated that he may be hesitant to throw out the definition of marriage that has been used at all times and in all places.

“One of the problems is when you think about these cases you think about words or cases, and-and the word that keeps coming back to me in this case is-is millennia, plus time. First of all, there has not been really time, so the Respondents say, for the federal system to engage in this debate…But still, 10 years is — I don’t even know how to count the decimals when we talk about millennia. This definition has been with us for millennia.  And it-it’s very difficult for the Court to say, oh, well, we-we know better.”

This sounds like a very good argument to allow the question about the definition of marriage to be decided by the people through the legislative process rather than by these nine justices.

Chief Justice Roberts got Mary L. Bonauto, lead attorney for the effort to redefine marriage, to acknowledge that prior to 2001, no jurisdiction in human history had ever defined marriage as a relationship between people of the same gender.  He questioned whether there weren’t actually rational reasons to define marriage in that way that had nothing to do with homosexuality.

2. The Court is thinking about the impact on religious freedom as well. 

Unlike the political activists who insist that same-sex marriage has no impact on religious freedom, the Supreme Court seems to be fully aware of the conflict between religious freedom and the redefinition of marriage.

The first exchange on the subject came when Justice Scalia asked Ms. Bonauto if clergy would be required to perform same-sex marriages.  Bonauto insisted they would not, noting that Jewish Rabbi’s are not currently obligated to perform non-Jewish weddings.

The second exchange came when Chief Justice Roberts asked the United States Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, about the impact on religious schools.

“Would a religious school that has married housing be required to afford such housing to same-sex couples?”

Solicitor General Verrilli did not say no.  He just said that the issue would be handled on a state-by-state basis and depend on whatever “accommodations” the state was interested in giving to religious schools.

Later, Justice Samuel Alito asked Verrilli whether religious schools would maintain tax-exempt status, noting that Bob Jones University lost their tax-exempt status for refusing to allow interracial dating or marriage.  His response was telling:

“You know, I-I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue.  I-I don’t deny that.  I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is-it is going to be an issue.”

Consider yourself warned.

3. Dignity is a major issue in this case 

In their opening remarks, both Ms. Bonauto and Solicitor General Verrilli talked about dignity.

Their primary argument seems to be that the current definition of marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteen Amendment because it denies dignity to people in a same-sex relationship.
That is how proponents of redefining marriage want to convince the justices — and the public — to think about marriage.  Don’t think about future generations, don’t think about children, don’t think about the implications of the reality that we are a gendered species, just think about what it does to someone when they feel “excluded.”

Giving proponents of real marriage reason to be concerned about the ultimate outcome of this case, Justice Kennedy seemed to sympathize with the dignity argument. Attorney John J. Bursch, arguing against the redefinition of marriage, made the statement that the purpose of marriage is not to infer dignity. But Kennedy responded with,

“Just in – just in fairness to you, I don’t understand this not dignity bestowing.  I thought that was the whole purpose of marriage. It bestows dignity on both man and woman in a traditional marriage.”

So what’s going to happen?

Ultimately, Justice Kennedy seems conflicted.  He seems to recognize that there are reason to preserve the current definition of marriage that have nothing to do with prejudice toward gay people (a position I agree with) which suggests he will preserve the right of people to define marriage for themselves.  At the same time, he seems to believe the purpose of marriage is to infer dignity upon private citizens (a position I don’t share) which seems to suggest he would be willing to take the issue away from the people and settle it as a constitutional matter.

It might also be true that none of these questions are the issues that will ultimately decide this case.

What is the impact of this decision?

If the Supreme Court finds that marriage is unconstitutional, every state will be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

If the Supreme Court determines it is constitutional  to define marriage between a man and a woman, then the states would remain free to define marriage for themselves.

The Constitutional amendments in 26 states that have been overturned by the courts would remain in effect. Only the 11 states that have redefined marriage by popular vote or through the legislative process would have same-sex marriage.

What can you do?

Pray for the court as they deliberate. Every day.  The implications of this decision are tremendous, but

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wills.” Prov. 21:1

You can listen to the entire, fascinating conversation, or read a transcript by clicking here.

Click here to read what was happening outside the Supreme Court while the arguments were being made.

The Supreme Court & Marriage: What You Need to Know

Tomorrow the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. The decision that results will have tremendous implications.

There are two legal questions the court is taking up.

  1. Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between people of the same gender?
  2. Does the 14th Amendment require one state to acknowledge a valid marriage from another state?

Fundamentally, the question for the court is not whether same-sex “marriage” is good policy, but whether the public is allowed to debate the issue through the democratic process.

The text of the Constitution is silent on the issue of marriage.

As you are well aware, one side argues that marriage is a relationship designed to confer a series of legal rights and benefits and give societal approval to the life-long commitment adults make to each other. As such, it is inappropriate to distinguish between commitments.

The other side argues that while people should be free to form whatever relationships they desire, marriage exists not primarily for the benefit of the adults but to connect one generation to the next. The fact that all children have a mother and father justifies encouraging the one kind of relationship that makes that possible.

Either the court will conclude that this is a political issue to be decided through the legislative process, or it will decide that the Constitution forbids such a debate because there is a constitutional right to marry someone of the same gender.

If it finds a constitutional right to marry someone of the same gender, it would become illegal for a state to specifically promote the arrangement that makes it possible for a child to know both their mother and father.

Same-sex “marriage” would then be compulsory in all 50 states.

Either way, the debate won’t be over soon. But it could be intensified if the Supreme Court tells one side of the debate their ideas have been banned from consideration.

If someone asks you, “What’s wrong with gay marriage?” ask them, “What’s wrong with square circles.”

They may be offended simply because, for a certain segment of the population, being offended is an involuntary reaction to encountering ideas they disagree with.

Still, the question makes a point all of us defending real marriage need to remember.

The fact that marriage is not a relationship between two men is not a judgment, it’s an observation like saying, “An orange is not an apple.” The debate over which one is better or worse (or neither) is distinct from the acknowledgement that they are in fact different kinds of fruit.

If the Supreme Court makes it illegal for the law to recognize the fact that some relationships are different from others, people will still figure it out.

“What kind of marriage?” we’ll ask.

Of course, that question might soon lead to protests and pickets. So the world will adapt signals or handshakes that allow the kind of information that was once communicated through a wedding ring to be shared without incurring the wrath of those who think belief in gender difference should be verboten.

Sweet, sweet tolerance.

But the idea that the world will soon be blind to gender is fanciful.

Pray that the Supreme Court doesn’t repeat the mistake of Roe v. Wade, which inflamed a cultural debate, by silencing the people’s voice on the matter.

However, even if the Supreme Court takes the position that the Emperor’s new clothes are stunning, know that you won’t be the only one watching the parade who knows better.

March for Marriage: Where are the white people?

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to determine whether it is constitutional to define a relationship between a man a woman.   Today, around 10,000 supporters of marriage rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol then Marched up the hill to the Supreme Court.

The message from the crowd and a lineup of speakers was clear. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.  Not only should it not be changed, it cannot be changed.

It seems appropriate that the Capitol is under construction as we deliberate whether to attempt a reconstruction of the family.

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But maybe the most striking thing about the crowd was it’s diversity.  In a way, it wasn’t very diverse at all. It was hard to find white people.  Churches and communities bused people in from New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington State… others flew in from the Puerto Rico.

While there is a lot of debate about immigration, it is apparent that on the issue of marriage, immigration is not the problem.  It may, in fact, be the solution.  The predominantly white churches in America have a lot to learn about the courage it takes to publicly stand for what is true from their minority brothers and sisters.

The good news is that this was the largest March for Marriage in the short history of the event. It is apparent that a strong foundation is being built.

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People were excited!

 

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Of course it’s no fun to have a rally if you don’t have a counter protest.

So there were these folks.  I guess the white people took a little longer to get ready so they came late.

 

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And this guy…

 

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But really, what we tried to focus on was this guy.  And the world his grand kids are going to grow up in.

 

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That is why we marched.

 

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For oral arguments on Tuesday, only 50 seats will be open to the public and people are already camping outside to get one of the coveted seats.  These two drove up from Georgia to sleep on the sidewalk for five days to be inside the courtroom.

Or it could be that they’re being paid by someone who wants to be inside the courtroom but doesn’t want to sleep on the sidewalk.  We don’t know for sure.  But we don’t judge. We like an entrepreneurial spirit.

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Please keep praying.  The arguments made on Tuesday at the U.S. Supreme Court and the decision that follows will be remembered hundreds of years from now.  The lives that will be impacted for good or for harm are innumerable. God is never not in control, but every day people suffer harm that wasn’t necessary…if only we’d obey.

Pray that wisdom prevails and truth wins.

 

 

FPIW Files Marriage-Affirming Brief at Supreme Court

The Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) has filed a legal brief at the United States Supreme Court in support of marriage. The brief was filed along with 34 allied organizations around the country and describes the benefits of marriage.

On Tuesday, April 28th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will determine the constitutionality of laws defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. More than 140 friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed with the court.

Joseph Backholm, Executive Director of FPIW, said the brief provides a powerful testimony.

“Friend-of-the-court briefs give the justices an in-depth look at one aspect of the case,” he explaind. “This brief gives a compelling overview of the social-science showing that children thrive from the unique contributions from their mother and father.”

He said these briefs could have an important impact on this case.

“The Supreme Court is being asked to say it is illegal to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman because there is no rational reason to do so. This brief underscores that time and experience support what our instincts already tell us; not every combination of people is the same. There are really good reasons to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.”

You can read the entire brief here.

Marriage Goes to Court

This Tuesday, April 28th, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hear oral arguments on the question of whether it is unconstitutional to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

While the debate over the definition of marriage has been taking place for more than a decade, the Supreme Court could remove the entire debate from the legislative process.

This is what happened in Roe v. Wade when SCOTUS declared a constitutional right to an abortion.

In the same way, Plaintiff’s in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges are asking the Supreme Court to declare that it is unconstitutional to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.

In one sense, the assertion is just silly.

The word “marriage” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution.

When the Constitution was written, every state defined marriage in this way and federal law has always recognized it as such.

This would be something like declaring the horse and buggy unconstitutional.

You may not like the horse and buggy.

You may think there’s a better way of getting around these days.

You may even want to pass a law to keep horses and buggies off of interstates given the changes in transportation technology (which we have done).

But that’s very different than claiming the horse and buggy was unconstitutional all along, we just hadn’t realized it.

Of course marriage and the family is not a form of transportation subject to technological changes. It is an ecosystem governed by rules that we did not create.

While many on the left would beg us (no, force us) to honor the balance of that fragile ecosystem if it were a salamander, when it is merely a child, we are more inclined to innovate and hope for the best.

So on Tuesday, they will ask the Supreme Court to discover a constitutional right for two men to get “married”.

These days, Constitutional law is a bit like gold mining. Just keep digging and one day, “Well, looky here. It’s a constitutional right.”

Most observers believe there are four solid votes in favor of discovering a new right (Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan) and four votes in favor of allowing marriage to be defined through the legislative process. (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito).

That would leave Justice Anthony Kennedy as the deciding vote in the final decision expected to be released in June.

But that is just conjecture. The court has surprised us before. Whatever the outcome, the debate over marriage will not soon be over.

The Supreme Court is powerful, but they do not have the power to reengineer the rules that govern what makes a family strong.

The rules that determine whether individuals, families, and cultures will be strong are not made by us, they were made for us. We will either honor them or suffer the consequences of pretending we are the smartest people who ever lived.

Either way, reality, truth, and marriage (the real kind) will need advocates.

Redefining Discrimination

By now you probably know that a Florist in Richland, Washington is being sued by the Attorney General because she declined to decorate for a same-sex ceremony.

The lawsuits are based on the belief that declining to be part of that event was discrimination based on sexual orientation.

However, there’s a problem with the argument that she discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. She has consistently and happily done business with people who identify as gay for years, including the individuals involved in this case. She considered them friends.

Still, the perpetrators of these lawsuits have found a way to rationalize their attempts to ruin the life of a perfectly decent grandmother whose life is a model of how to be charitable without abandoning your convictions; something we used to value in this country.

Since there is no evidence that she actually discriminates based on sexual orientation, they have redefined what discrimination means in order to make it illegal to have a business and disagree with them about same-sex “marriage”.

The old definition of discrimination meant that you couldn’t have a policy of refusing to business with a protected class. Meaning, you can’t say “no Mexicans allowed” or “Protestants only”.

The new definition of discrimination means this: if you offer a particular service for any purpose, you must offer that same service for every purpose. In her case, if you’re willing to do a wedding for a man and a woman, you must be willing to do a wedding for two men.

Where their argument stops no one knows.

Is Mrs. Stutzman obligated to decorate for a Satanic wedding as well? Can she be forced to do a wedding for a thruple (three people of various genders or maybe no gender at all)? If a family member was to be involved in a wedding she did not personally support, will she be compelled to attend at gun point if the family member was willing to pay for her services?

Or maybe gay is the only thing you’re not allowed to say no to? No one knows, yet.

Whatever your business is, stop and think about how this new understanding of “discrimination” could affect what you do?

If you’re a general contractor, surely you can imagine a contract you would decline out of personal conviction. The new ISIS community center perhaps.

You’re a website designer. You probably want the right to decline to build a support group page for pedophiles or a memorial site for “Great, but not forgotten, Nazi heroes”?

Every lawyer has both a right and obligation to decline a case if he feels he cannot provide zealous representation for the client.

You think the Christian thing to do is to decorate for the gay wedding? Great, have a great time decorating for it.

But we should be able to agree that people shouldn’t be forced to choose between their business and their faith. That’s what they do in Cuba, China, and Russia.

Once the government has created a religious litmus test in order to run certain types of businesses, are they not discriminating on religious grounds?

Of course they are. But from their perspective, this is good discrimination necessary to prohibit bad discrimination.

In other words, “you shouldn’t be able to use your religion to hurt people, so I should be able to use the government to hurt you.”

In their mind, the harm associated with needing to find another florist is a greater harm than bankrupting a grandmother because of her beliefs about homosexuality.

In one sense we should be sympathetic. There’s an old saying that “hurt people, hurt people”. When you encounter someone who is genuinely interested in harming another person who offended them, they are inevitably acting out of a lot of real pain. The homosexual community is filled with people who have real stories of real pain because they have been legitimately wronged.

But that doesn’t justify their attempts to use political leverage to destroy the lives of good people in an act of general revenge.

There’s an important parallel to the Islamic Terrorists who shot the cartoonists in Paris. While so many on the left are insisting that Je Suis Charlie, in reality, the left in America has been playing the same game with (thankfully) different weapons for a long time.

Brendan Eich was fired as CEO of the company he started because of his beliefs about marriage. Private property owners have been fined because they do not want their private property used for a same-sex ceremony. Every time a TV personality expresses their commitment to the biblical understanding of marriage, protests organize to get them off the air.  Bakers, florists, and wedding photographers are facing lawsuits and fines because they prefer not to be part of same-sex ceremonies.

Without question, mass murder is orders of magnitude worse than the tactics the militant gay lobby has been using to make examples of the people who disagree with them.

But the root problem is the same.

A society cannot remain free if the people within the society seek the personal destruction of those who offend them.

The law exists to provide a remedy for real harms. But if we now believe that finding another florist after a polite conversation is an injury requiring the attention of our nation’s leadership we might as well drop any remaining pretense of adulthood and return to our pacifiers.

The essence of tolerance is the ability to disagree agreeably. Barronelle Stutzman has proven to be a model of how to do that. The other folks…not so much.

We have different stories, beliefs, and experiences. Each of us can learn something from our neighbors, especially our neighbors who are very different than us.

We all can agree that everyone should have the same opportunities in life regardless of what groups they are a part of. In that sense, we all oppose “discrimination”.  But if “discrimination” has now been redefined to have nothing to do with opportunities and everything to do with feelings, count me out.

I prefer the adult world.

Sixth Circuit Upholds Marriage

In the latest developments in the national conversation about marriage, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that laws in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky that define marriage as a relationship between a man and woman are constitutional.

The Court said it would be inappropriate of them to make a final determination on the issue of marriage:

“Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for the matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea. Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us — just two in truth — to make such a vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens who live within the four States of the Sixth Circuit: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.”

Finally, they concluded that the legislative arena as the better place to resolve political debates over social issues:

“In just eleven years, nineteen States and a conspicuous District, account for nearly forty-five percent of the population, have exercised their sovereign powers to expand a definition of marriage that until recently was universally followed going back to the earliest days of human history. That is a difficult timeline to criticize as unworthy of further debate and voting. When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

For this reason, we reverse.”

This decision comes only four weeks after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of other decisions ruling that marriage is unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court is far more likely to hear a case when there is disagreement among the circuit courts. Marriage now meets that criteria.

Will the Supreme Court take this case up now?  Only time will tell.

What Does the SCOTUS Decision Mean?

In a surprising move announced this morning, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of five separate decisions in which judges ruled that Constitutional Amendments defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman are unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court did not affirm the lower court decisions, but by virtue of not hearing the appeal, the decisions from Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana will stand.

This decision, however, has implications beyond those five states.

The federal court system is broken up into 11 circuits. A decision from one state will apply to all states in that circuit. Therefore, by allowing the decisions from these states to stand the Supreme Court has effectively struck down marriage laws in North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado as well.

As a result, the number of states now recognizing same-sex “marriage” could be as high as thirty.

While proponents of natural marriage are disappointed because it redefines marriage in other states, proponents of redefining marriage had hoped the Supreme Court would take up the issue and rule in their favor.

No one is entirely pleased.

Still, the decision is surprising because the Supreme Court had previously granted a stay (delay in implementation of the ruling) of the lower court decision pending a final outcome.

It is unusual for the Supreme Court to grant a stay but then refuse to hear the appeal.

Regardless, by refusing to hear the appeal, the stay will expire and marriage to be redefined by default.

The decision is troubling because it furthers a trend of unelected bodies overturning the will of the people.

However, this is certainly not the final word on this subject either in the courts or in the culture.

In the courts, there are several other cases working their way up through the system. The Supreme Court could be waiting for one of those cases to delay their final decision a couple of years.

Culturally, the conversation over this issue is just getting started. In one sense, proponents of redefining marriage are just finishing their opening argument. Time will afford the chance for a rebuttal.

While it is critical that we respond to the confusion over marriage, gender, and the family right now, time is our greatest ally.

Proponents of same-sex “marriage” insist that as people get to know same-sex couples, we will all come to see that same-sex relationships are no different. In reality, those closest to same-sex relationships will be the greatest advocates for natural marriage a generation from now.

In thirty years, it is the children of same-sex relationships who will be arguing most forcefully on our behalf. That is not because those children will hate the same-sex couples who raised them but because they will be immune to the argument that the only possible reason to support natural marriage is because you hate gay people. They will also have a perspective that those who deal only in theory and never in practice will have no response for.

A mother or father cannot be removed from the eco-system of the family without harming it. I cannot make decisions based on my belief that my own personal happiness is the greatest good without hurting myself and others.

We may find reality inconvenient but reality did not ask for our opinion.

As Cicero once wrote, “Time obliterates the fictions of opinion and confirms the decisions of nature.”

The Supreme Court’s decision is unfortunate, but this is all far from over.

The best response is vigilance.

Of course with the redefinition of marriage comes lawsuits and other forms of harassment directed at people who believe in natural marriage.

But if you we want to protect our freedoms from those who would take them in the name of tolerance and diversity, we have to know which candidates share our perspective. And we have to actually go to the trouble of supporting those who share our perspective with our vote.

And then make sure you get your friends and family to do the same. Remember, with our new Vote Finder tool, you can know if your friends and family have voted before the election is over. So use the tool to find 10 friends and family members who share your perspective and make sure they turn in their ballot.

A few more votes in the right places from the right people will be the difference between grandmas being sued because of their beliefs about marriage and people being free.

Yes, it’s easy to be frustrated about some of these developments. But doing something about it is far more fulfilling.

Breaking the Silence: Redefining Marriage Hurts Women Like Me – and Our Children

This article was originally published on September 22, 2014 in The Public Discourse. Janna Darnelle lives in Washington State.

Every time a new state redefines marriage, the news is full of happy stories of gay and lesbian couples and their new families. But behind those big smiles and sunny photographs are other, more painful stories. These are left to secret, dark places. They are suppressed, and those who would tell them are silenced in the name of “marriage equality.”

But I refuse to be silent.

I represent one of those real life stories that are kept in the shadows. I have personally felt the pain and devastation wrought by the propaganda that destroys natural families.

The Divorce

In the fall of 2007, my husband of almost ten years told me that he was gay and that he wanted a divorce. In an instant, the world that I had known and loved-the life we had built together-was shattered.

I tried to convince him to stay, to stick it out and fight to save our marriage. But my voice, my desires, my needs-and those of our two young children-no longer mattered to him. We had become disposable, because he had embraced one tiny word that had become his entire identity. Being gay trumped commitment, vows, responsibility, faith, fatherhood, marriage, friendships, and community. All of this was thrown away for the sake of his new identity.

Try as I might to save our marriage, there was no stopping my husband. Our divorce was not settled in mediation or with lawyers. No, it went all the way to trial. My husband wanted primary custody of our children. His entire case can be summed up in one sentence: “I am gay, and I deserve my rights.” It worked: the judge gave him practically everything he wanted. At one point, he even told my husband, “If you had asked for more, I would have given it to you.”

I truly believe that judge was legislating from the bench, disregarding the facts of our particular case and simply using us-using our children- to help influence future cases. In our society, LGBT citizens are seen as marginalized victims who must be protected at all costs, even if it means stripping rights from others. By ignoring the injustice committed against me and my children, the judge seemed to think that he was correcting a larger injustice.

My husband had left us for his gay lover. They make more money than I do. There are two of them and only one of me. Even so, the judge believed that they were the victims. No matter what I said or did, I didn’t have a chance of saving our children from being bounced around like so many pieces of luggage.

A New Same-Sex Family-Built On the Ruins of Mine

My ex-husband and his partner went on to marry. Their first ceremony took place before our state redefined marriage. After it created same-sex marriage, they chose to have a repeat performance. In both cases, my children were forced-against my will and theirs-to participate. At the second ceremony, which included more than twenty couples, local news stations and papers were there to document the first gay weddings officiated in our state. USA Today did a photo journal shoot on my ex and his partner, my children, and even the grandparents. I was not notified that this was taking place, nor was I given a voice to object to our children being used as props to promote same-sex marriage in the media.

At the time of the first ceremony, the marriage was not recognized by our state, our nation, or our church. And my ex-husband’s new marriage, like the majority of male-male relationships, is an “open,” non-exclusive relationship. This sends a clear message to our children: what you feel trumps all laws, promises, and higher authorities. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want-and it doesn’t matter who you hurt along the way.

After our children’s pictures were publicized, a flood of comments and posts appeared. Commenters exclaimed at how beautiful this gay family was and congratulated my ex-husband and his new partner on the family that they “created.” But there is a significant person missing from those pictures: the mother and abandoned wife. That “gay family” could not exist without me.

There is not one gay family that exists in this world that was created naturally.

Every same-sex family can only exist by manipulating nature. Behind the happy façade of many families headed by same-sex couples, we see relationships that are built from brokenness. They represent covenants broken, love abandoned, and responsibilities crushed. They are built on betrayal, lies, and deep wounds.

This is also true of same-sex couples who use assisted reproductive technologies such as surrogacy or sperm donation to have children. Such processes exploit men and women for their reproductive potential, treat children as products to be bought and sold, and purposely deny children a relationship with one or both of their biological parents. Wholeness and balance cannot be found in such families, because something is always missing.I am missing. But I am real, and I represent hundreds upon thousands of spouses who have been betrayed and rejected.

If my husband had chosen to stay, I know that things wouldn’t have been easy. But that is what marriage is about: making a vow and choosing to live it out, day after day. In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, spouses must choose to put the other person first, loving them even when it’s hard.

A good marriage doesn’t only depend on sexual desire, which can come and go and is often out of our control. It depends on choosing to love, honor, and be faithful to one person, forsaking all others. It is common for spouses to be attracted to other people-usually of the opposite sex, but sometimes of the same sex. Spouses who value their marriage do not act on those impulses. For those who find themselves attracted to people of the same sex, staying faithful to their opposite-sex spouse isn’t a betrayal of their true identity. Rather, it’s a decision not to let themselves be ruled by their passions. It shows depth and strength of character when such people remain true to their vows, consciously striving to remember, honor, and revive the love they had for their spouses when they first married.

My Children Deserve Better

Our two young children were willfully and intentionally thrust into a world of strife and combative beliefs, lifestyles, and values, all in the name of “gay rights.” Their father moved into his new partner’s condo, which is in a complex inhabited by sixteen gay men. One of the men has a 19-year-old male prostitute who comes to service him. Another man, who functions as the father figure of this community, is in his late sixties and has a boyfriend in his twenties. My children are brought to gay parties where they are the only children and where only alcoholic beverages are served. They are taken to transgender baseball games, gay rights fundraisers, and LGBT film festivals.

Both of my children face identity issues, just like other children. Yet there are certain deep and unique problems that they will face as a direct result of my former husband’s actions. My son is now a maturing teen, and he is very interested in girls. But how will he learn how to deal with that interest when he is surrounded by men who seek sexual gratification from other men? How will he learn to treat girls with care and respect when his father has rejected them and devalues them? How will he embrace his developing masculinity without seeing his father live out authentic manhood by treating his wife and family with love, honoring his marriage vows even when it’s hard?

My daughter suffers too. She needs a dad who will encourage her to embrace her femininity and beauty, but these qualities are parodied and distorted in her father’s world. Her dad wears make-up and sex bondage straps for Halloween. She is often exposed to men dressing as women. The walls in his condo are adorned with large framed pictures of women in provocative positions. What is my little girl to believe about her own femininity and beauty? Her father should be protecting her sexuality. Instead, he is warping it.

Without the guidance of both their mother and their father, how can my children navigate their developing identities and sexuality? I ache to see my children struggle, desperately trying to make sense of their world.

My children and I have suffered great losses because of my former husband’s decision to identify as a gay man and throw away his life with us. Time is revealing the depth of those wounds, but I will not allow them to destroy me and my children. I refuse to lose my faith and hope. I believe so much more passionately in the power of the marriage covenant between one man and one woman today than when I was married. There is another way for those with same-sex attractions. Destruction is not the only option-it cannot be. Our children deserve far better from us.

This type of devastation should never happen to another spouse or child. Please, I plead with you: defend marriage as being between one man and one woman. We must stand for marriage-and for the precious lives that marriage creates.

Janna Darnelle is a mother, writer, and an advocate for upholding marriage between one man and one woman. She mentors others whose families have been impacted by homosexuality.