America’s Orthodox Archbishops: Supreme Court Has Overstepped its Purview with Marriage


The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America is a bishops’ assembly that is made up of all the active, canonical Orthodox Christian bishops of the United States of America, of every jurisdiction, including the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Archbishop Demetrios of America, head of the Greek Orthodox Church is the assembly’s chairman.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, legalizing same sex marriage in every U.S. state, the Orthodox bishops issued the following statement:

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America strongly disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision of June 26, Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court invents a constitutional right for two members of the same sex to marry, and imposes upon all States the responsibility to license and recognize such “marriages.”

The Supreme Court, in the narrowest majority possible, has overstepped its purview by essentially re-defining marriage itself. It has attempted to settle a polarizing social and moral question through legislative fiat. It is immoral and unjust for our government to establish in law a “right” for two members of the same sex to wed. Such legislation harms society and especially threatens children who, where possible, deserve the loving care of both a father and a mother.

As Orthodox Christian bishops, charged by our Savior Jesus Christ to shepherd His flock, we will continue to uphold and proclaim the teaching of our Lord that marriage, from its inception, is the lifelong sacramental union of a man and a woman. We call upon all Orthodox Christians in our nation to remain firm in their Orthodox faith, and to renew their deep reverence for and commitment to marriage as taught by the Church. We also call upon our nation’s civic leaders to respect the law of Almighty God and uphold the deeply-rooted beliefs of millions of Americans.



  1. I have difficulty understanding this response.
    1. Many marriages are recognized by the state which are not recognized by the Church. Fourth marriages, marriages between baptized Christians outside of the church, marriages where one party is not a Christian, etc. The church did not recognize my legal marriage to my husband, and we were considered in schism, until we were married in a sacrament within the Church. The Church has always treated the marriage sacrament as distinct from the legal agreement. The Church has always recognized that what defines a legal marriage agreement is quite different than what defines an Orthodox marriage. It is a sign of “picking and choosing” and hateful judgment that the church is responding to THIS particular difference in definitions of marriage.

    2. I fail to see how gay marriage deprives children of mothers and fathers. Children in the foster care system are not under the care of a mother and a father. Research shows that children have poor outcomes if they age out of the foster care system, and that they have just as good outcomes if they are in the care of gay parents. is taking children away traditional families. Similarly Children who are artificially borne to gay couples would not exist if not for the choices of the gay parents. A child is not being taken away from a mother and a father. And a child is better off born than not.

    3. There are 1,138 benefits that were previously granted to legally married heterosexual couples, but not to gay couples. These include Social Security: Surviving spouses are eligible to receive Social Security payments, and a surviving spouse caring for a deceased employee’s minor child is also eligible for an additional support payment. Visitation in the hospital and ability to make medical decisions. Visitation in jail and spousal immunity from testifying. Immigration and residency benefits. Even protection by domestic violence laws. NONE of these have anything to do with the Church. We should be proud that the state has recognized equal rights, even if we know the Church’s definition of marriage will never change and will always require a man and a women to be joined in Christ.

    We are all sinners, we all miss the mark whether by in inch or a mile. We all have the plank in our eye to remove first. Why has the Orthodox church chosen to focus on one particular sin? It seems to me that these Church leaders, much like evangelicals, are merely following the tide and the times rather than remaining true to the Church. We have always been able to look back on our history in pride. We’ve never denied science nor have we been on the wrong side of history. I have always been proud that the Church has remained unchanged and has never had to revise her stance. And now I know in 50 years this will be as ugly of a blemish as if we had been railing against interracial or interfaith marriage.

    Why do we need to speak out on Caesar’s marriage? I am very disappointed.

    • Georgia Leckie on

      Karen your respons to the Bishops is right on and so well stated. This is an issue of civil rights and it was a positive one. Thank you for your eloquent well stated position. The Supreme Court decision has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It has all to do with a human beings civil rights in a free country. God bless and keep you!

      • The bishops are simple charged to uphold the biblical orthodox Faith of Christ Jesus Our Lord.

        Civil matter that it is, they still had the duty to speak out against it.

  2. The Church would do better to focus on matters to keep people within the church. There are many Gays who give of themselves tirelessly because of their love for it. Forcing people to live alone serves no purpose and is not a Human value. The church needs a new face or it will lose intelligent members and become filled with an increased populace of right wingers who are becoming an embarrassment to the institution.

  3. Some of us Christians are living our lives with concern for the everlasting life that is promised to us and that goes for members of the clergy as well. There is a small percentage of people who do their work to the best of their ability, honest, respectfully, and with concern for the well being of others and some in fact are concerned for the spiritual well being of others rather than the physical/mental health or mostly just superficially and just for the moment. There’s a difference in how people believe in God, our Lord Jesus Christ, some the way they want to, and a very few, the way it has been for 2000 years. It is a spiritual struggle that is a different world than the norm and which requires you to live in the world by trusting God and not yourself/your pride. And the Holy Spirit teaches you what you ask for if it is beneficial for your soul. And there’s also great joy and relief living this way and you realize how great God’s love is for all sinners. Sinners are one’s who know and accept what sin is and they are loved by our Lord Jesus Christ because they try and eventually repent. If a sinner does not understand what a sin is then he/she is a heretic and no matter how nice a human being he/she is, this person has already condemned his/her self by their God given free will and so is living for their pride and not for our Lord Jesus Christ who simply said to love Him more than ourselves and to love our neighbor as much as our selves. Our Christian Triune God loves a sinner who knows well enough to keep repenting for their sins till their last breath. A heretic on the other hand simply and directly means they’ve accepted the deceptions of the demons and are living seemingly content with the thoughts/logismoi the demons are constantly bombarding them with. Our Christian Orthodox Saints have for 2000 years, with the help of the Holy Spirit, explained in detail all one needs to live with our Lord Jesus Christ for ever. It’s all in print in books from our monasteries and on the internet. Our Orthodox clergy are clearly aware of sin, they are educated in the writings of our Saints who were in constant prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit. There’s much to learn if you believe and care for the everlasting life with our Lord Jesus Christ that is promised to us.

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