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How Will the Supreme Court Marriage Ruling Affect You? An Interview with Mike Farris

November 16–20, 2015   |   Vol. 125, Week 4

You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same–sex marriage. But how will that decision affect our country’s schools and education policy—and will it reach homeschoolers, too? Hear the answer on today’s Homeschool Heartbeat with HSLDA Vice President Jim Mason and Chairman Mike Farris.

“We’re running up against the only thing that the Supreme Court has ever said is an absolute right. And that is the right to believe.”—Mike Farris

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What did the Supreme Court really say in its recent decision on same–sex marriage—and what does it mean for homeschoolers? Find out on this week’s Homeschool Heartbeat.

Jim Mason: Hi, I’m Jim Mason, HSLDA’s Vice President of Litigation. With me is Mike Farris, HSLDA’s Chairman. Welcome, Mike!

Mike Farris: Hi, Jim. Great to be with you!

Jim: Mike, the U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down a major decision regarding same–sex marriage. Can you tell us about that ruling?

Mike: I think every American has heard the phrase, “The Supreme Court legalized same–sex marriage.” And that phrase is actually pretty accurate. That’s exactly what they did.

They’re not supposed to have the power to pass new laws. But by distorting the original meaning of the Constitution—in this case, the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause—they effectively rewrote the Constitution. The dissenters to this case essentially say the same thing that I said, just a little more lengthy and a little more eloquently. But it’s called tyranny. When people who are not authorized to make law make law for a free, self–governing nation, they have been engaged in tyrannical actions. And you can’t say it any more bluntly than that.

To say it historically accurately, you would have to say that in 1868 when the people wrote and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, they intended to legalize same–sex marriage, but nobody just discovered it for about 150 years. And that’s so obviously fallacious just to say it out loud correctly, as to tell you, really what’s going on here, the Supreme Court is acting like a legislature, not a court.

Jim: Mike, can you tell us about the legal impact of the Supreme Court’s recent same–sex marriage decision. And in particular, how will it affect homeschoolers?

Mike: Well, it’s going to affect homeschooling as a subset of the way it affects education in general. In the oral arguments and in the opinions, eventually, Justice Alito brought up the idea that this decision could have the effect of requiring Christian colleges to recognize same–sex marriages, both for students and faculty and otherwise. And the solicitor general of the United States, Donald Verilli, admitted that that was a very realistic possibility.

And so if that’s the general principle—that private educational entities can be forced by the nature of this ruling to recognize same–sex marriage—the ultimate trickle–down effect could impact homeschooling, starting with support groups, with churches that rent their facilities to homeschooling groups, that allow homeschooling groups to use their facilities. There’s all kinds of activities mainly in a group nature—homeschool support groups are the most likely to see the output of this.

Jim: Mike, homeschool co–ops and support groups are a vital part of many families’ educational programs. In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, will anything change for these groups?

Mike: Well, it could. First of all, it would depend upon state law to some degree. If a state law has an anti–discrimination provision that relates to same–sex activities, sexual orientation activities, it’s much more likely for a homeschool support group to have a formal conflict with the officials of that state for refusing to allow same–sex recognition or activities or families into their organization.

Christian groups who want to be faithful to the Christian nature of their mission should have the freedom to do so. Now if a group wants to admit anybody and everybody, they should have the freedom to do so as well. And so, I’m not saying that homeschool groups could never include such persons, but it should be the choice of each individual group. And those state laws could impact that. The state law plus this decision: add them together—there’s going to be real trouble for a lot of private organizations, ultimately, as we’re already seeing with cases involving more services like bakeries and florists and those kinds of activities right now. But it’s going to creep and move into the educational sphere before very long.

Jim: Mike, you’ve told us about the legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s recent same–sex marriage case. Can you give us some real–life examples of how those consequences could play out for a homeschooling family or group?

Mike: Well, let’s do the group first, because that’s the place that that kind of conflict will actually probably start.

Let’s say there’s a Christian homeschooling regional group that wants to have a curriculum fair, and a gay and lesbian group wants to come in and buy a booth in their Christian homeschool fair. Can that group keep the gay and lesbian group out?

Now, if we’re going to follow freedom of association, free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, the answer would be yes. They can decide who they want—whether it’s gay, or they don’t want tractor dealers, or whatever it is. They can make any decision they want. But in light of this decision the groups are going to have much more likelihood of a conflict. If truth and justice will prevail, they’ll win. But in the current legal atmosphere, it’s really going to be a dicey situation.

Families—it’s really hard to invade the family in any kind of meaningful way except this: curriculum requirements can be imposed. So–called tolerance–based—curriculum requirements will be promoted. There are law review articles [that] have been written for years on this subject, promoting coerced tolerance education upon homeschooling families, and I think you’ll see increased efforts in that direction.

Jim: Mike, you mentioned how academics are encouraging changes in curriculum to adopt a more progressive view of same–sex marriage and other topics. How could that play out in homeschooling legality generally?

Mike: The general ability of government to impose curriculum requirement has been not contested too much in this country, even for homeschooling because, “You’ve got to teach math, you’ve got to teach history, you’re got to teach science.” No one has imposed the details of how you have to teach math or how you have to teach science. “Just cover these subjects; you’re going to be okay.”

I think that the regulators and the progressives who believe in establishing their utopia for everyone will get much more detailed and try to provide very specific, Common Core–like standards for a whole range of subject matters that will basically cover the entire school day. And I think you can see—in social studies, in history programs, in literature programs, in government programs, and many other places in the curriculum, health education programs, other places—you will see efforts to impose a theocracy of the left, if you will, saying that “You will bow the knee to the idea that same–sex marriage is a wonderful idea. And if you don’t go along with that, you’re going to be crushed.” Those efforts are going to be made.

Now, we’re running up against the only thing that the Supreme Court has ever said is an absolute right. And that is the right to believe. And we’re going to see whether we really believe that anymore or not, when we have conflict between the march of the totalitarian left and the right to believe. We are going to do everything we can to preserve the absolute right to believe whatever you want to believe in this country.

Jim: Thanks, Mike. That’s just another reason why homeschooling families need to remain vigilant. For Homeschool Heartbeat, I’m Jim Mason.

Mike FarrisMike Farris

Michael Farris is Chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association and a professor at Patrick Henry College. He was the founding president of each organization. At PHC, Farris teaches constitutional law, public international law, and coaches PHC’s Moot Court team which has won eight national championships.

Farris is a constitutional appellate litigator who has served as lead counsel in the United States Supreme Court, eight federal circuit courts, and the appellate courts of 13 states. He has been a leader on Capitol Hill for over 30 years and is widely known for his leadership on homeschooling, religious freedom, and the preservation of American sovereignty.

A prolific author, Farris has been recognized with a number of awards including the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship by the Heritage Foundation and as one of the “Top 100 Faces in Education for the 20th Century” by Education Week magazine.

Mike and Vickie Farris have 10 children and 18 grandchildren.

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