What the Courts Are Saying October 2, 2006
What the Courts are Saying. This past July those advocating for same-sex marriage received a strong defeat to their call for marriage equality. In seven states and in both federal and state courts rulings were handed down rejecting legal challenges for same-sex marriage. Courts found no fundamental right for same sex-marriage and more importantly the highest courts in two states found compelling and legitimate state interest for limiting marriage to one man and one woman. A Federal Appeals Court ruled that there is no violation of the Federal Constitution by limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
New York On July 6, 2006 the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court ruled that a decision on the issue of marriage should be left to the state’s legislature. Marriage is not merely a commitment between consenting adults, nor is it a financial system designed to provide benefits to loving couples, It unites men and women in stable lifelong relationships so that children will be raised by their mothers and their fathers as often as possible. For this reason alone, the state has a legitimate, indeed a compelling, interest in supporting marriage between one man and one woman.
Georgia On July 6, 2006 a Georgia High Court ruled unanimously (5-0) reversing a lower court ruling, and reinstates the state constitutional amendment passed by the 77% of the citizens of Georgia voting in a 2004 election. The High Court overturned a trial judge’s ruling that threw out the state constitutional amendment on a technicality and ruled that it does not violate the "single-subject" rule.
Connecticut On July 12, 2006 a Connecticut judge ruled that banning same-sex marriage does not violate same-sex couples’ constitutional rights because the state’s new civil union law provides similar protections. Connecticut was the first state to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage without a legal challenge. This law was passed in April 2005 and was immediately challenged in court by those advocating for same-sex marriage. The lower court judge ruled that the Connecticut Constitution does not require that same-sex couples be granted "marriage" when the legislature has already granted them the benefits of marriage by enacting "civil unions."
Tennessee On July 14, 2006 the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected the ACLU’s argument that the state’s proposed marriage amendment had not been published for the public in a timely manner. This court ruling allows the citizens of Tennessee to vote in a November 2006 election on a proposed constitutional marriage amendment.
Nebraska On July 14, 2006 the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a Federal District Court’s decision and reinstates Nebraska’s constitutional amendment on marriage passed by the 70% of the citizens of Nebraska voting in a 2000 election. The federal appeals court found no federal "fundamental right" to same-sex marriage exists and that the U.S. Supreme Court has indeed ruled on the matter. The court concluded that Nebraska’s laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States.
Washington On July 28, 2006 the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution does not guarantee same-sex couples equal access to the rights and privileges of marriage. The decision reverses two lower courts. The highest Washington State court ruled that the legislature has a rational basis for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples and courts must defer to that judgment. In their opinion the justices stated, the plaintiffs have not established that as of today sexual orientation is a suspect classification or that a person has a fundamental right to a same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts On July 10, 2006 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that a proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman can be considered by the legislature and does not violate a ban on amendments intended to "overturn judicial decisions. The current proposed constitutional amendment is a citizens’ petition initiative signed by 160,000 citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The court ruled that the initiative does not violate the state constitutional prohibition on improper use of the initiative process to intervene in a court case to reverse the verdict. The legal challenge was based on Article 48 of the Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The proposed constitutional amendment of defining marriage under discussion by the legislature originated as a citizens’ petition initiative. This is the third proposed constitutional amendment and the second citizens petition initiative of defining marriage to come before the legislature. All three of them have been to maintain the status quo, that marriage be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman. These three proposed constitutional amendments have not been about changing the definition of marriage. This third proposed constitutional amendment before the legislature is an up or down, yes or no vote to maintain the status quo that marriage be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman.
When will those advocating changing the definition of marriage to allow same-sex (gay) marriage propose and complete through the legislative process legislation for same-sex (gay) marriage? A successful yes vote on this proposed constitutional amendment to maintain the status quo that marriage be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman in two consecutive legislation sessions through constitutional conventions of the legislature will allow the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to vote in 2008 election. Doing so, will allow the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to actively participate in the governing of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a key part of the democratic process of governing. The citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have voiced a desire to actively participate in maintaining the status quo of defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman by proposing two citizens petition initiatives as constitutional amendments to the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.