The U.S. Supreme Court will take up two crucial questions March 26 and 27: Should California voters be allowed to keep gay marriage illegal? And should the federal government be allowed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman?
If the High Court says no, that could make gay marriage the law of the land. Panelists at a Heritage Foundation event warned these cases could radically alter American culture.
"In redefining marriage to exclude the truth about marriage would teach that marriage is not about uniting a man and a woman. It's not about the fact that biology requires a man and a woman to create a child or the social reality that a child needs a mom and a dad," Ryan Anderson, author of the book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense, told CBN News.
"So redefining marriage obscures those truths," he said. "It makes marriage about the emotions of adults rather than the needs of children."
Constitutional scholar John Eastman said homosexuals argue they're no different than heterosexuals, so they deserve equal protection under the law, thus the same right to marriage.
But Eastman pointed out the Supreme Court has always recognized that the government protects traditional marriage because it's crucial to civilization's continuing existence.
"It's essential to the survival of society because that's the institution that by far best produces and raises the children who are the offspring of those relationships," Eastman said. "You sever that, you destroy why it was a fundamental goal in the first place."
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Austin Nimocks is on the legal team defending traditional marriage before the High Court.
"Marriage is what it has always been since the beginning of time: the union of a man and a woman," he said. "That's how the Supreme Court has acknowledged marriage 14 times in its prior jurisprudence."
But if the pro-gay side triumphs, Nimocks said what's at stake is whether the American people themselves get to have the final say about what marriage is "or whether the Supreme Court is going to impose a radical new definition of marriage upon all 50 states and the four U.S. territories.
"Americans want to engage in this debate," he continued. "We've been doing it for the last 10 years.
"Americans care about this, and what we need is for the Supreme Court to keep its hands off marriage right now," he said. "Let Americans continue to debate this through our democratic institutions."
The Heritage Foundation's Anderson said in a nation that's legalized same sex-marriage, people who argue it's wrong will face discrimination and even punishment.
"We've already seen in the states that have adopted same-sex marriage that they have shut down Christian adoption agencies," Anderson said.
"In Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C., Catholics who were running adoption agencies and they thought kids needed a mom and a dad, and then the states said, 'We're not giving you licenses to run your adoption agencies unless you place children with same-sex couples on an equal footing with traditional moms and dads," he said.