Marriage Strengthened by States and DOMA Counsel

Several states have had activity on the legal status of marriage in their legislatures and courts, and some have moved toward strengthening marriage with a state constitutional amendment.

Minnesota State senators Warren Limmer and Paul Gazelka introduced a marriage amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If the Minnesota Marriage Amendment passes both the House and the Senate, it will go to the people of Minnesota in November 2012, where it must gain a majority of all votes cast in the election in order to become part of Minnesota's constitution. "This issue constantly comes up during legislative sessions and it's time for the people to decide," said Sen. Limmer. "Allowing a small number of politicians or activist judges in St. Paul to decide the definition of marriage would not be acceptable." Minnesota is moving toward protecting marriage.

Rhode Island has declined to consider legislation extending marriage rights to gay couples. House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is homosexual and a leading supporter of the same sex marriage bill, says that it's clear the bill won't overcome opposition in the Senate. Rhode Island is maintaining its stand for marriage.

The defense of DOMA has also been a major drama this past week, as former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who addressed the Regent Law Moot Court Banquet a couple of years ago, has agreed to accept the U.S. Congress' request that he defend DOMA on behalf of the nation. This has not been without great personal cost, as his D.C. law firm requested he drop the case when the Human Rights Campaign sent a letter to every major law firm warning them not to let any lawyer in their firm take on the House's defense of DOMA. Paul Clement, however, refused bow to the pressure and resigned from the firm. His resignation reads:
"Efforts to delegitimize any representation for one side of a legal controversy are a profound threat to the rule of law. ...When it comes to the lawyers, the surest way to be on the wrong side of history is to abandon a client in the face of hostile criticism," he wrote (pdf) in resigning from his law firm, Kirk & Spalding, when requested to drop his client.
National Organization for Marriage Director Brian Brown discussed the drama: "By responding with courage and grace, Paul Clement has set off a growing backlash against King and Spalding and the HRC campaign—a backlash which goes way beyond the usual party lines. Usually the gay-marriage advocates who threaten people's livelihoods do so behind the scenes. This time they did it in broad undeniable daylight and it looked really ugly. How big is this backlash? Well [] when a major gay-marriage advocate like Andrew Sullivan headlines his criticism, 'Bullies in the Gay Rights Movement' something new is afoot. Sullivan wrote, 'When civil rights groups bully, they lose the moral high-ground...'."

In marriage litigation news, Texas recently refused a divorce to a homosexual couple, ruling that the state does not recognize same sex marriage, and therefore cannot rule on a divorce of a non-marriage. The petitioner has appealed to the Texas Supreme Court [see the USA.net story at http://pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=705869&Itemid=29.

A Montana judge has also rejected a homosexual couple's claims in that state, which you can read about at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gzMQYaMaPVkYdcjhCnxM68-1mgog?docId=26ad9201d6d942a88e78c6108f704926. "The attorney general's office has argued ... that Montana can't extend spousal benefits to gay couples because those benefits are limited to married couples by definition since Montana voters in 2004 approved the marriage amendment." That full story can be found at Yahoo! News at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110421/ap_on_re_us/us_same_sex_lawsuit.

At issue this week has also been the bias and potential prejudice of Judge Vaughn Walker, the ruling judge in the California Proposition 8 case [see the story at http://www.christianexaminer.com/Articles/Articles%20May11/Art_May11_15.html.] "A federal judge has set a June 13 hearing to consider arguments over whether last year's ruling striking down Proposition 8 should be set aside because of allegations that the trial judge may have been biased. In a brief order, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware put the issue on a faster track after same-sex marriage foes triggered another legal showdown with documents filed earlier this week. Proposition 8 sponsors on Monday asked Ware to erase the ruling by former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, arguing that Walker should have stepped aside from the case because he was in a long-term same-sex relationship and stood to benefit from the legal right to marry." Read the full story at http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_17941278?nclick_check=1.]

Another federal judge in the Fifth Circuit ruled that a state could not be forced into a public policy that its own laws did not allow in a battle over homosexual parent adoption. The full opinion can be read at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/09/09-30036-CV2.wpd.pdf. Judge Edith Jones wrote the opinion that ensured Louisiana could not be forced to change a birth certificate of an adopted child to reflect two New York male parents as although New York allowed the adoption, it does not recognize same sex marriage, and Louisiana requires married parents for adoption.

Finally, the battle for marriage continues, and some states still do not understand that civil unions are desireable to no one. As a step toward marriage expansion, civil unions displease same sex couples as falling short of marriage. Despite this fact, Delaware has approved such a bill. The full text of the civil union bill is one of the most detailed pieces of legislation regarding civil unions, running 11 pages. In includes recognition of out of state civil unions, status of children in families headed by same sex couples, as well as the rules of construction mandating it be constructed broadly and at the same time prohibiting any strict scrutiny of the statute that would be made based on the common law; the legislation is to be broadly interpreted to reach its stated objective. [You can read the entire text of the bill here.]

This past week has been filled with marriage news. The battle rages. From the legislative chamber, to the courtroom, marriage is critical to our law and culture. Expanding it weakens it. Strengthening marriage remains the focus of more than a super-majority of states, and of the federal government. Family restoration is only possible as marriage is legally stablized. The events of this week have served more to strengthen marriage, and tocontinue a cultural movement toward family restoration.

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