The Supreme Court announced its rulings on two high profile cases affecting same-sex marriage on Wednesday, June 26. Both cases were decided by 5-4 votes.

Proposition 8 is California’s referendum banning same-sex marriage. It was overturned by a U.S. district court and U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Usually a state government fights to prove the constitutionality of its laws, but in this case, it was a private entity that was appealing the case to the Supreme Court. The high court ruled that a private party does not have jurisdiction, so it declined to bring any ruling on the constitutionality of Proposition 8. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit, which is expected to lift its temporary stay on its former ruling, overturning Proposition 8.

In the second case, the high court declared that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.” DOMA passed by wide margins in Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. Section 3 provided that same-sex marriages recognized by some states would not be recognized under federal law.

The majority decision on DOMA was read by Justice Anthony Kennedy. He stated that the law was unconstitutional, because it “singles out a class of persons deemed by a state entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

The minority opinion, read by Justice Antonin Scalia, expressed disappointment that the majority did not reference the substantial arguments that existed in justification of the law, and predicted that the country’s divide over this issue would be exacerbated. He noted that the opinion issued was narrow in scope, however, and did not go so far as to declare whether same-sex marriages should be made lawful.

When the ruling was announced, General Superintendent Dr. Jo Anne Lyon stated:

“My heart goes out to those whose lives are affected by these decisions, or whose hearts are troubled by them. It is clear that the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA was deeply divided, and debate will continue in our country, as I don’t expect many opinions have changed. Regardless of the shifts within our culture, we in The Wesleyan Church remain committed to the position that the institution of marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman.”

The church is compelled by the love of Christ to care about all people. When we engage, peaceably, in the quest for healthy and just social structures that reflect God’s plan, it is not just to protect ourselves. It is out of caring for everyone, including generations not yet born. When our stance becomes less popular in a society that is, in some ways, moving farther from God, love does not let us withdraw. It is out of love toward those who may think us enemies that we stand for what we genuinely believe is best for all, not just for ourselves.

For more information, here are the church’s position statements on social issues and its publication on church and culture.