Wednesday, September 17, 2014
By ASSOCIATED PRESS | 9/16/14 9:04 PM EDT| Politico|
MINNEAPOLIS — People seeking clues about how soon the Supreme Court might weigh in on states’ gay marriage bans should pay close attention to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a Minnesota audience Tuesday.
Ginsburg said cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing. She said “there will be some urgency” if that appeals court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner, she predicted.
She said if the appeals panel falls in line with other rulings there is “no need for us to rush.”
Ginsburg didn’t get into the merits of any particular case or any state’s gay marriage ban, but she marveled at the “remarkable” shift in public perception of same-sex marriage that she attributes to gays and lesbians being more open about their relationships. Same-sex couples can legally wed in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts.
“Having people close to us who say who they are — that made the attitude change in this country,” Ginsburg said at the University of Minnesota Law School.
The Supreme Court returns from a summer recess in early October. Ginsburg wasn’t the only justice on the lecture circuit Tuesday; Justice Clarence Thomas was addressing a gathering in Tyler, Texas.
Fifteen months ago, the high court struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denied a range of tax, health and veterans benefits to legally married gay couples. Rulings invalidating state gay marriage bans followed in quick succession.
Ginsburg spent 90 minutes before an audience of hundreds discussing her two decades on the Supreme Court as well as her days as an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer. In a question-and-answer period, she predicted that cases dealing with the environment and technology would make for watershed decisions in years to come.
Privacy of information carried on smartphones in the context of criminal searches could be particularly big, Ginsburg said. “You can have on that cellphone more than you can pack in a file cabinet,” she said.
The liberal justice said the court is the most collegial place she has worked as she fondly described her close relationship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. She made sure to plug a comic opera about the two of them - “Scalia/Ginsburg” - that will debut next year in Virginia.
And the 81-year-old Ginsburg elicited plenty of laughter by highlighting a Tumblr account about her called the “Notorious R.B.G.” and a never-realized dream job.
“If I had any talent God could give me, I would be a great diva,” she said.
Friday, September 12, 2014
By Cheryl Wetzstein - The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Supreme Court Wednesday gave the clearest signal yet it is ready to wade once again into the legal war over gay marriage, formally adding a slew of gay marriage cases to the justices' agenda for their closed-door conference on Sept. 29.
Seven same-sex marriage cases from five states met the high court's Wednesday filing deadline, which means the justices could take up one or more of the cases in its 2014-2015 term, which formally starts Monday, Oct. 6.
The petitions from Virginia, Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin are expected to be presented to justices at the conference at the end of the month.
The Supreme Court memorably last tackled the issue in June 2013, striking down a federal law recognizing only traditional man-woman unions and seeming to invite the states to decide their policies of gay marriage individually. But since then, gay marriage advocates have won a series of battles to overturn legislative and voter-approved bans on same-sex marriages as unconstitutional, citing in part the legal logic of the Supreme Court decisions.
The lower courts remain divided, however, with the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down prohibitions from Indiana and Wisconsin just last week.
Both sides will be watching closely to see which — if any — of the state-level petitions the Supreme Court agrees to hear. Some state officials are asking for confirmation that they can continue their traditional marriage laws, while gay plaintiffs are asking the court to essentially force states to permit gay marriage based on their Constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.
The cases on the September 29 agenda are from Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, Wisconsin and three cases from Virginia. All five of the states have seen their traditional laws refusing to sanction gay marriage struck down by district and appellate courts.
Cases are accepted when four justices agree to do so; there is no requirement that the justices immediately act on the requests for review.
The justices could also choose to delay action until January and still issue a decision by late June.
The clamor for the Supreme Court to take up the gay marriage issue has been growing louder since June 2013, when the high court ruled that a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. That law blocked the federal government from recognizing legal gay marriages from other jurisdictions for most federal programs
Gay rights groups argue that if DOMA is illegal, so are state-level anti-gay marriage laws.
State officials, however, say that states have the rights to set their domestic relations laws, and even the Windsor ruling pointed to giving states the right to decide who can marry.
"My responsibility is to defend the state constitution and its amendments as Utah citizens have enacted them," said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, a Republican, when that state filed its writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. "All Utah citizens will benefit when the Supreme Court provides clear finality on the important issue of state authority to define marriage."
In Virginia, an official with the group that brought one of the gay marriage challenges there also urged the high court to take up the issue.
"Gay and lesbian couples in Virginia should not have to wait another day to enjoy their right to marry," said Adam Umhoefer, executive director of American Foundation for Equal Rights.
The current group of gay marriage cases include rulings from the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeal, which all ruled for gay marriage, and struck down state man-woman marriages in states around the country.
Rulings are expected in the near future from the 6th and 9th Circuits, which also affect Midwestern and Western states.
Oral arguments are also expected to be heard soon by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in cases from Texas and Louisiana. The latter case is distinctive because it marks the first ruling in recent months where a federal judge upheld a state's traditional-marriage law.
Currently, 19 states and the District permit gay marriage.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Published September 07, 2014 |Associated Press |Fox News|
SALT LAKE CITY – The Mormon church and four other religious organizations are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and settle once and for all the question of whether states can outlaw gay marriage.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a statement Friday, said it joined a friend-of-the-court brief asking the high court to hear Utah's marriage case.
Also taking part in the filing were The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Each teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman.
"The time has come to end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage," the brief states.
Multiple organizations and governmental entities on both sides of the debate have filed similar briefs asking the court to take up the issue.
The religious groups urged the Supreme Court on the basis of tradition and religious freedom to uphold a state's right to disallow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
"Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions," the brief says. "Is their right to refrain from participating in, recognizing or facilitating marriages between persons of the same sex, contrary to their religious convictions, adequately shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections? Or is further legislation needed to guard religious liberties in these and other sensitive areas?"
Last month, attorneys for three Utah gay and lesbian couples formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take Utah's appeal of a favorable gay marriage ruling.
The plaintiffs said they asked for the review even though they won at the federal appellate court level because they want the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether state same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution.
The high court is under no obligation to take Utah's case or the others.
Monday, September 8, 2014
September 7, 2014|8:38 am |The Christian Post|
The attorneys general of 17 states, led by Colorado, have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the U.S. Constitution includes a right to same-sex marriage. The Mormon church and a few Christian groups have also filed a friend-of-the-court brief.
"There are scores of cases requiring thousands of hours to litigate the same legal question presented in this petition," the filing by 17 statesreads, asking the high court to take up the cases challenging gay marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah, noting that 89 ongoing cases across the country challenge traditional marriage laws.
"These cases are divisive and costly, not only in terms of money and manpower, but in terms of respect for the democratic process and deliberation undertaken by millions of voters where the nature of marriage has recently been debated," adds the brief, filed Thursday. "Once resolved, the legal issues presented in the Utah and Oklahoma petitions are well positioned to provide the necessary guidance to the other states with traditional marriage laws."
The 17 states include: Colorado, Oklahoma, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Associates Press reports that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and four Christian organizations have also asked the Supreme Court to settle once and for all whether states can outlaw same-sex marriage.
The friend-of-the-court brief — joined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics & Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — urges the high court to hear Utah's marriage case.
"The time has come to end the divisive national debate as to whether the Constitution mandates same-sex marriage," the brief states.
"Legal uncertainty is especially burdensome for religious organizations and religious believers increasingly confronted with thorny questions," the brief adds. "Is their right to refrain from participating in, recognizing or facilitating marriages between persons of the same sex, contrary to their religious convictions, adequately shielded by the First Amendment and other legal protections? Or is further legislation needed to guard religious liberties in these and other sensitive areas?"
Federal judges in many states have struck down state amendments and laws banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court last June squashed a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
Same-sex marriage is currently recognized in 19 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Ryan T. Anderson / September 03, 2014/ The Daily Signal
Does the U.S. Constitution require the states to redefine marriage? Earlier today a federal judge said no. Judge Martin L.C. Feldman upheld Louisiana’s constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman—as 78 percent of Louisiana voters did in 2004.
Feldman noted that Louisiana’s marriage law furthers two important interests: “linking children to an intact family formed by their biological parents, as specifically underscored by Justice Kennedy in Windsor” and “safeguarding that fundamental social change … is better cultivated through democratic consensus.” That is, Feldman noted the two central issues in this debate—the policy question: What is marriage, and the legal question: Who gets to define marriage.
Feldman ruled that, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, citizens and their elected officials should get to define marriage, and they can define it as the union of man and woman if they choose to. In response to those who argue that there is no rational basis for such marriage laws, Feldman writes: “The Court is persuaded that a meaning of what is marriage that has endured in history for thousands of years, and prevails in a majority of states today, is not universally irrational.”
Feldman cites the Supreme Court’s decision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case, U.S. v. Windsor, as support that Louisiana has the right to define marriage for itself. Feldman writes: “Windsor repeatedly and emphatically reaffirmed the longstanding principle that the authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations belongs to the states, subject to indistinct future constitutional guarantees that in Windsor were, by its expressed limits, left open and rather inexact.”
When the Supreme Court struck down part of DOMA, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained, “The significance of state responsibilities for the definition and regulation of marriage dates to the Nation’s beginning.” Taking Kennedy at his word, Feldman emphasizes the basic equality of state citizens and the vital importance of democratic debate. Just as citizens are free to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships, so too are citizens free to retain the historic definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman—as citizens in a majority of states have done.
Our federal Constitution is silent on what marriage is. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution. As Feldman notes, “it is not for this Court to resolve the wisdom of same-sex marriage.The nation is witness to a strong conversation about what is marriage.” The courts should uphold the freedom of the American people and their elected representatives to make marriage policy.
Feldman accepts that Louisiana’s voters had a rational basis to define marriage as the union of a man and woman:
Louisiana’s laws and Constitution are directly related to achieving marriage’s historically preeminent purpose of linking children to their biological parents. Louisiana’s regime pays respect to the democratic process; to vigorous debate….The fact that marriage has many differing, even perhaps unproved dimensions, does not render Louisiana’s decision irrational.
Feldman rightly questions where the re-definition of marriage will lead:
Must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female? All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs.
This again highlights the importance of respecting the authority of citizens and their elected officials to make policy about marriage. As Feldman emphasizes, marriage policy should be worked out by the people in the states: “Federalism is not extinct. Federalism remains a vibrant and essential component of our nation’s constitutional structure.” The debate about marriage cannot be put to rest by a court-imposed 50-state solution. This is the people’s decision.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
By KEVIN McGILL |Sep 4, 4:47 AM EDT|
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- It was a rare loss for gay-marriage supporters - one that even the judge who issued the ruling acknowledged won't be the final word.
"Clearly, many other courts will have an opportunity to take up the issue of same-sex marriage; courts of appeals and, at some point, the U.S. Supreme Court," U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman wrote in upholding Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage - and its refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
"The decision of this Court is but one studied decision among many."
Feldman's ruling Wednesday was the first to uphold a state ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act last year.
Gay-marriage supporters had won more than 20 consecutive rulings overturning bans in other states. They said they would take the Louisiana case to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which already has before it an appeal by the state of Texas of another federal judge's ruling that struck down that state's gay marriage ban.
In 2004, 78 percent of Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage. Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Isabel Medina, a professor at the Loyola University New Orleans law school, said she didn't see the ruling as a significant road block for gay marriage advocates. Even a 5th Circuit decision upholding Feldman's ruling would affect only three states: Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, she noted.
It's likely the Texas case will be the first to go to the 5th Circuit, and cases elsewhere likely will reach the Supreme Court before Louisiana's, said Professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia. Nevertheless, he said, Feldman's ruling is significant.
"It is important, because Feldman is a very experienced federal district judge, and no other federal judge has ruled that way at the trial level," Tobias said in a telephone interview. Feldman was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
Feldman said gay-marriage supporters failed to prove the ban violates equal-protection or due-process provisions of the U.S. Constitution. He also rejected an argument that the ban violated the First Amendment by effectively forcing legally married gay couples to state that they are single on Louisiana income tax returns.
Feldman sided with the state, which had argued that the nation's high court, in the Defense of Marriage Act decision, recognized the rights of state voters and legislatures to define marriage.
"Although opinions about same-sex marriage will understandably vary among the states, and other states in free and open debate will and have chosen differently, that does not mandate that Louisiana has overstepped its sovereign authority," he wrote.
The conservative Louisiana Family Forum praised the ruling.
"This ruling confirms that the people of Louisiana - not the federal courts - have the constitutional right to decide how marriage is defined in this state," Gene Mills, the group's president, said in a news release.
"I am very pleased with Judge Feldman's ruling today," Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a statement Wednesday night. "He agreed with my position that states have a legitimate interest in defining marriage through the democratic process."
Gay-marriage advocates were disappointed.
"Every citizen of the United States deserves protection of their rights, uphill climb or not," said Mary Griggs, chairwoman of Forum for Equality Louisiana.
Feldman said the Supreme Court decision "correctly discredited" the Defense of Marriage Act's effect on New York law legalizing same-sex unions. But he also noted language in the decision outlining the states' historic authority to recognize and define marriage.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently considering arguments over six gay-marriage cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Two other appellate courts, the 10th Circuit in Denver and the 4th Circuit in Virginia, have overturned statewide gay-marriage bans in Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia. However, those rulings and others overturning gay-marriage bans have been put on hold while appeals are considered.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
August 22, 2014|4:50 pm |The Christian Post|
Even though the citizens of Florida voted in a 2008 referendum to define marriage as between one man and one woman in their state's constitution, yet another federal district judge has ruled that amendment is unconstitutional because it does not let Floridians marry someone of their same gender.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle came to the same conclusion Thursday as judges from four other districts in Florida previously found. Hinkle ruled that labeling marriage as only "between a man and a woman" was in violation of 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as it does not provide a guarantee of equal protection and due process under the law.
In his reasoning, Hinkle used the frequently used argument that same-sex marriage is inevitable, or, as some same-sex marriage supporters put it, opponents are on the "wrong side of history."
"When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination," Hinkle wrote in his decision. "To paraphrase a civil rights leader from the age when interracial marriage was struck down, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed the court ruling, as she did with the other rulings in the counties of Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach and Broward. Due to the appeal, Hinkle has delayed the effect of his order. Same-sex marriages are not immediately allowed in those districts until the appeals have been ruled upon.
Opponents of gay marriage in Florida, including Bondi and Family Research Council Senior Fellow Chris Gacek, argue that the power of the Florida citizens' votes should be respected by the judicial process.
"The people's voice and vote need to be respected to preserve the rule of law. Judge Hinkle assumes that the marriage debate will disappear - the same wrong conclusion made in 1973 by the judges who imposed abortion on demand," Gacek said. "However, Judge Hinkle can't erase the reality that children need a mom and dad. He also can't wish away the very serious consequences that marriage redefinition has for free speech and religious liberty. Far from live-and-let-live, the redefinition of marriage is forcing people to violate the basic teachings of their faith, or lose their livelihood."
Bondi told NBC Miami that the appeal rulings should wait until the U.S. Supreme Court comes to a decision on this matter. The Supreme Court could decide as early as next year whether state laws recognizing marriage as between one man and one woman are constitutional. Such a decision would give clear precident to the legal implication in Florida.
"The U.S. Supreme Court, they need to decide this case, they are going to decide this case, hopefully sooner than later so we will have finality," Bondi said. "There are good people on both sides of this issue and we need to have finality for everyone involved."
According to USA Today, proponents of same-sex marriage have already won more than 20 legal cases across the nation. The Supreme Court voted in June of 2013, 5-4, to throw out part of a 1996 law that denies federal marital benefits to same-sex couples in states that allow same-sex marriage. Also, they voted to let same-sex marriage resume in California.
The national view of same-sex marriages has sharply changed in the last 10 years and now 19 states and District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Same-sex couples will have to wait longer to begin marrying in Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to delay an appeals court ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban.
The nation's highest court granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to delay a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond that would have allowed for same-sex couples to marry beginning Thursday morning. The state would have also had to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state if the Supreme Court had denied the request. The court provided no explanation for its order.
The Supreme Court's decision was not unexpected, as it previously issued an order in January putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah. A federal appeals court had upheld a decision striking down Utah's ban. Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.
By granting the delay, the Supreme Court is making clear that it "believes a dignified process is better than disorder," said Byron Babione, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group based in Scottsdale, Arizona, that supported the challenge by the two Virginia circuit court clerks whose duties include issuing marriage licenses.
"Virginians deserve an orderly and fair resolution to the question of whether they will remain free to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws," Babione said in a statement.
Supporters of same-sex marriage were disappointed, saying gay and lesbian couples have waited long enough to marry.
"Loving couples — and families — should not have to endure yet another standstill before their commitment to one another is recognized here in Virginia," James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a statement.
While awaiting the court's ruling, Virginia officials and some clergy members were preparing for the possibility that same-sex couples would have been able to wed by drafting a revised marriage license form for courthouse clerks. Some clerks in urban areas were also preparing for an influx of marriage license applicants by bringing in deputy clerks to assist with marriage licenses and setting up overflow rooms.
Earlier this year, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated that as many as 7,100 same-sex Virginia couples could get married within three years of a change in law. That's based on 2010 Census figures showing Virginia had 14,243 same-sex couples and past experiences with Massachusetts after gay marriage was legalized there.
Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 that banned gay marriage and prohibited the recognition of such marriages performed in other states. State Attorney General Mark Herring has said he will not defend the ban and believes the courts were correct in striking it down.
The appeals court ruling overturning that ban was the third such ruling by a federal appeals court and the first in the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states' rights and traditional, conservative moral values that have long held sway.
Herring has also supported a delay because of unintended negative consequences if the court later rules against marriage equality.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Herring said he understood that some might be disappointed. However, there is cause for optimism "that ultimately when the Supreme Court hears our case or whether it hears another one of these cases, that it will strike down these discriminatory bans."
The Virginia lawsuit was filed by Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk, who were denied a marriage license, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County. The women were married in California and wanted their marriage recognized in the state where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter.
Bostic said in a written statement that the delay was disappointing but not unexpected.
"There are thousands of couples just like us in 30 other states waiting to get married. It is time for all Americans to be able to enjoy the freedom to marry, no matter what state they live in," Bostic said.
A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati recently considered arguments regarding six cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some observers have said the 6th Circuit may be the first to uphold statewide gay marriage bans after more than 20 consecutive rulings in the past eight months striking them down.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
BY NAPP NAZWORTH , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
Judges who have been overturning marriage laws are misreading the U.S. Supreme Court rulings and ignoring counterarguments in order to promote their own ideological agenda, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, told The Christian Post in a video phone interview.
"This is a pure ideological power play by liberal judges, some of whom were Republican appointed, ... who don't like traditional morality and the traditional understanding of marriage and want to overturn it," George said. "So they're abusing their offices, they're usurping the authority of the elected representatives, ... and sometimes the people themselves acting through referendums and initiatives, to impose their own vision, their own preferences, their own political policy preferences on the American people. It's not right and it's not constitutional. Judges acting in the name of the Constitution are themselves acting unconstitutionally."
Last Summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in two same-sex marriage cases. One upheld a lower court ruling that struck down California's "prop 8," which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The other, U.S. vs. Windsor, ruled unconstitutional the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that said federal law will not recognize same-sex marriages in states that allow couples of the same gender to get married. Since then, many state courts, federal district courts and federal appellate courts have overturned state marriage laws, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court required, suggested or implied that they do so in the Windsor decision.
Overturning marriage laws was never the intent of Windsor, George argued. Rather, the Court only wanted to do what it did, which was to say that state contracted marriages must be recognized by the federal government. When judges useWindsor as justification for striking down marriage laws, they are actually imposing their own views of what marriage should be rather than faithfully interpreting the law, he claimed.
"Judges who are very eager, for ideological reasons of their own, to invalidate marriage laws to promote the ideology that's behind the movement for same-sex marriage are seizing on the — Windsor decision as a pretext for invalidating the laws that have been on our books historically, have always served us well — understanding marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife," George said.
Though it is considered proper to address counterarguments in judicial opinions, George said that the judges overturning marriage laws are ignoring his arguments. The reason George believes they are doing so is that they do not have answers to his arguments.
"The argument is very inconvenient, it gets in their way. They are in a headlong rush to redefine marriage for their own ideological purposes, so they refuse to engage the best arguments that are available on the other side, despite the fact that those arguments are being made," he said.
George provided a brief summary of his argument in the interview. Here is an edited transcript of what he said:
Marriage is, and historically has been, the relationship that brings together man and woman as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children who are born of that union.
Not every marriage will produce a child, but every child has a mother and father and deserves to be known and loved by, and to be able to know and love, those parents who gave that child life. So, our marriage laws, our conjugal understanding of marriage, as embodied in our laws, has historically fulfilled the purpose of maximizing the chances, it doesn't work every time, but it maximizes the chances that a child will be brought up with a very great blessing of knowing and being known by his mother and father in the marital bond, the loving bond of man and woman that brought that child into existence.
That's the ideal. Now when the ideal doesn't happen, we have ways of dealing with that. Adoption, for example, is a wonderful way the we have historically provided, where possible, a mother and father to orphan children. There are ways we deal with the cases where the ideal cannot be realized. But we want the ideal to be realized as much as possible for the sake of children, boys and girls, who do best when brought up in the loving bond of their mother and father.
We need to rebuild a marriage culture that will maximize the chances of any child being brought up in that loving bond. the loving bond of the man and woman whose union gave them life.
That's the whole reason the law is interested in marriage at all. The law is not interested in your romantic relationships. What business is that of the laws? The law is not interested in your ordinary friendships or companionships. The law doesn't regulate them, the law doesn't recognize them. It would be a bad thing if they did. Would we want the law intruding itself on our friendships or even our romances? Why is the law interested in marriage at all?
Going all the way back to the Greeks (this isn't a Christian idea) the pagan Greeks, Plato, Aristotle, the Romans ... all recognized marriage.
Why is the law interested in it? For the sake of children. Because we all know that children really do deserve to be brought up, whenever possible, in the loving bond of man and woman as husband and wife who brought them into the world.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
August 12, 2014|9:14 am |The Christian Post|
A judge has ruled that Tennessee's constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage is legal, breaking a streak of judicial losses for the traditional marriage side.
Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. ruled last week against the claim that the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In his decision, Simmons cited the 1972 case Baker v. Nelson, a lesser known decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, arguing that gay marriage is not a fundamental right.
"Baker holds that a state's law on same-sex marriage does not violate the equal protection or substantive due process rights under the United States Constitution," wrote Simmons in his memorandum opinion.
"Although the United States Supreme Court has had opportunities to overrule the Baker decision, it has refused to take that position even in the decision on which the plaintiff relies, which is United States v. Windsor."
The decision is the first since the 2013 Supreme Court decision Windsor v. United States to rule that a state marriage amendment was constitutional.
Last year, the highest court in the land ruled five to four that a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
While the decision did not comment on the constitutionality of state-level same-sex marriage bans, judges across the nation have concluded in the past several months that various state's bans violate the constitution.
In 2006, Tennessee was one of multiple states in the U.S. to have a majority of voters approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Known as Amendment 1, the ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly with 81 percent of voters in favor. In the same election cycle, Virginia, Wisconsin, South Dakota, South Carolina, Idaho and Colorado approved similar bans.
"The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a state that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional," continued Simmons.
"Further, the Supreme Court does not find that one state's refusal to accept another state's valid same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution."
Simmons' ruling comes not long after multiple parties both for and against same-sex marriage legalization have petitioned the Supreme Court to address the issue.
Earlier this month Utah, Virginia and Oklahoma filed petitions of appeal with the Supreme Court in response to the numerous lawsuits across the nation.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stated that his duty is to legally defend the will of the state's voters, who supported the state's marriage amendment via referendum.
"My responsibility is to defend the state Constitution and its amendments as Utah citizens have enacted them," said Reyes.
"We recognize this litigation has caused uncertainty and disruption and have accordingly tried to expedite its resolution as quickly as possible by filing our petition a full month-and-a-half before its Sept. 23 due date," he added.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who gained headlines for refusing to defend the Commonwealth's voter-approved marriage amendment, also asked the Supreme Court for its decision.
"Throughout this case, I have fought for the fundamental rights of Virginians and the quickest possible resolution," said Herring. "I believe the district and appeals courts ruled correctly in striking down Virginia's discriminatory marriage ban, but it has long been clear that the Supreme Court will likely have the final word."