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The U.S. Supreme Court this morning announced that it declined to hear any appeals in cases dealing with same-sex “marriage,” effectively allowing lower court judges to overturn the will of voters in five states by imposing a redefinition of marriage. In all, 11 states could be affected.

The court dismissed petitions from the states of Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin to review appeals court rulings overturning their marriage protection amendments. Six additional states are subject to the same appeals courts as those states.

Lower courts have overturned state marriage law but stayed their rulings until the Supreme Court could weigh in. Since justices denied the motion, gay “marriages” are beginning in those five states today.

“The Supreme Court’s refusal to take up marriage cases means an immediate expansion of gay 'marriage,'” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Ed Whelan of National Review's “The Bench Memo” wrote that “the Court’s denial of review” was “grossly irresponsible, as a huge abdication of duty on the part of at least six justices.” Since four justices are required to vote yes in order to place a case on the court's docket, he wrote, “At least one of the four conservative justices on the Supreme Court voted against reviewing the state [marriage] cases, and none of the four has registered a peep over the Court’s irresponsible denial of review.”

The court's orders do not reveal how each justice voted. But legal experts believe two of the court's liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, must recuse themselves from ruling on any same-sex “marriage” case that comes before the court, because both have conducted same-sex “weddings.”

Justice Ginsburg told the University of Minnesota Law School recently that SCOTUS would not need “to rush” to entertain the issue unless lower circuit court rulings began to conflict. So far, all cases have struck down marriage protection amendments.

“The problem we have in this case is that some lower courts have overstepped their bounds and ruled several state marriage amendments unconstitutional,” said Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America. “That judicial activism, overturning the will of millions of Americans who went to the polls to say they wanted marriage to remain as the union between one man and one woman, will stand.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the decision “will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves,” ultimately “undermining the rule of and respect for law.” In a 5-4 ruling last June in U.S. v. Windsor, the justices specifically held that states had the right to define marriage for themselves.

But homosexual activists rejoiced at the ruling – and demanded more judicial activism to strike down all laws nationwide. “Any time same-sex couples are extended marriage equality is something to celebrate, and today is a joyous day for thousands of couples across America who will immediately feel the impact of today’s Supreme Court action,” said Chad Griffin, president of the powerful homosexual lobbying group Human Rights Campaign. “But let me be clear, the complex and discriminatory patchwork of marriage laws that was prolonged today by the Supreme Court is unsustainable. The only acceptable solution is nationwide marriage equality and we recommit to ourselves to securing that ultimate victory as soon as possible.”

Paul D. Castillo, who sued Indiana for the homosexual activist group Lambda Legal, said, “In American history there has never been a comparable social phenomenon that has achieved victory so quickly.”

American history is exactly the problem, Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said. “The effect of the lower court rulings is to say that a constitutional right to same-sex ‘marriage' has existed in every state in the union since 1868 when the 14th Amendment was ratified, but somehow nobody noticed until quite recently,” he said. “That's the absurd belief we are being told to accept.”

The Supreme Court could still hear cases involving 17 other states that have seen their laws struck down by judges – many appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama.

Idaho and Nevada see their marriage cases pending before the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has a record as one of the most activist, and most overturned, appeals courts in the nation. Sometimes derided by commentators as the “Ninth Circus Court,” 20 of its 29 judges were appointed by Democrats.

Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee are awaiting a ruling from the more conservative Sixth Circuit Appeals Court in Cincinnati.

Perkins said as unelected judges strike down laws and impose new moral guidelines, culture will become less hospitable to families and people of faith. “As more states are forced to redefine marriage, contrary to nature and directly in conflict with the will of millions, more Americans will see and experience attacks on their religious freedom,” he said. “Parents will find a wedge being driven between them and their children as school curriculum is changed to contradict the morals parents are teaching their children.”

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Perkins said, “Congress should respond to today's announcement by moving forward with the State Marriage Defense Act, which is consistent with last year's Windsor ruling and ensures that the federal government in its definition of marriage respects the duly enacted marriage laws of the states.”

Assuring passage will require a more conservative government than exists today, Nance said. “In that sense, we cannot overemphasize the importance of the upcoming elections,” she said. “Conservatives must come out to the polls in the upcoming elections in overwhelming numbers and make sure that our elected officials and the next president of the United States respect and appreciate the right of the people to define marriage as it has always been throughout our history – the union between one man and one woman.”

As for the church, Russell Moore said Christians must stand tall, live out the Gospel, and show strength of conviction mixed with love for all. “We have no authority to revise what Jesus handed down to us. And the church must not respond with a siege mentality,” he said, adding that Christians already “live in an era in which marriage is redefined and confused.”

The most recent Pew Research Poll showed that the American people's support for gay “marriage” had dropped by five percent since February, and that 49 percent of Americans want the church to take a larger role in discussing moral issues that come up in the public square, a sharp increase since 2012.

Moore called on Christians, especially Southern Baptists, the second largest denomination in America, to “hold fast to what the gospel reveals about the meaning of marriage” and “articulate a Christian vision of what marriage should be.”

“This is no time for retreat or for resentment,” he said. “This is a time for mission.”