Attorney General Eric Holder is now arguing that state attorneys general who refuse to defend provisions in their state constitutions restricting marriage to the union of one man and one woman are following in the footsteps of the civil rights movement.
Holder provided an example of what the Times was talking about when he spoke earlier this month at a dinner sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s most prominent advocate of same-sex marriage.
“Just as was true during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the stakes involved in this generation’s struggle for LGBT equality could not be higher,” said Holder. “Then, as now, nothing less than our country’s founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law was at stake.”
Is Holder right? Is our country’s founding commitment to the notion of equal protection under the law at stake in the same-sex marriage movement and in other causes advanced in the name of “LGBT equality”?
Yes, but not in the sense Holder claims.
On Good Friday 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century — was arrested and thrown into the Birmingham jail for marching in protest of racist laws in what King described as “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.”
While King was incarcerated, a group of local clergymen published a statement in a Birmingham newspaper questioning his act of civil disobedience. Kings response, “A Letter from Birmingham Jail,” was brilliant and timeless.
“One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?'” King wrote.
“The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust,” he said. “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.
“I would agree with St. Augustine,” said King, “that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’
“Now what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust?” King wrote. “A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”
“Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful,” said King.
King concluded that civil rights activists who engaged in civil disobedience against unjust segregation laws were in fact defending this nation’s founding principles.
“One day,” said King, “the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”
King was right.
So, on the question of whether two men ought to be allowed to legally “marry” and do such things as contract with technicians to create human beings in laboratory dishes and with women to use their wombs to carry these babies to term, who is following God’s eternal and natural law? Who is standing up for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage?
Not Attorney General Eric Holder. Those who advocate man-made laws that treat the union of two men as if it were a marriage, and that allow men in such unions to adopt children, are defying the laws of nature and nature’s God and denying children their God-given right to be conceived and nurtured by a mother and father.
Holder and his Justice Department are not reaffirming the fundamental principle of the civil rights movement — that man’s law must be rooted in God’s law — which the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. brilliantly articulated in his letter from the Birmingham jail. They are defying it.
Eric Holder is wrong because Martin Luther King was right.