What Legislatures and People Are Saying October 9, 2006
What Legislatures and people are saying. The citizens of 13 states have voted to amend their state Constitutions following the 2004 Goodridge decision in Massachusetts. Goodridge allows same-sex/gay by judicial decree (4 non-elected officials of the Supreme Judicial Court). The citizens of these 13 states have voted to uphold and maintain the status quo that marriage is defined as a relationship between one man and one woman. Six additional states will allow their citizens to vote in upcoming November 2006 elections. (Arizona, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin) All of these proposed Constitutional amendments being voted on by the citizens of these 6 states are expected to be successfully voted for approval.
With the successful passage of these 6 proposed Constitutional amendments citizens in 25 states will have amended their state Constitutions to uphold and maintain the status quo that marriage is defined as a relationship between one man and one woman. Under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, states are generally required to recognize and honor the public laws of other states, unless those laws are contrary to a strong public policy of that state. But in 1996, Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to do the same.
Only 4 states, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Rhode Island have no laws or provisions in their Constitutions related specifically to marriage being defined as the relationship between one man and one woman. In April 2005 the Connecticut legislature pass a law that was signed by the Connecticut Governor. The law allows for civil unions for same-sex/gay couples and defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. Connecticut was the first state to resolve the issue of defining marriage without a legal challenge. This past July (2006) a Connecticut judge upheld a legal challenge to this Civil Union Law. Vermont is the second state that also allows civil unions for same-sex couples. In a legal challenge for same-sex/gay marriage in New York, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court ruled in July 2006 that a decision on the issue of marriage should be left to the state’s legislature. More recently after a Massachusetts court ruling allowing Rhode Island same-sex/gay couples to legally marry in Massachusetts, the attorney General for Rhode Island announced that the state of Rhode Island would not legally recognize these same-sex/gay marriages of Rhode Island citizens performed in Massachusetts.
Consistent in Goodridge, the legal challenge for same-sex/gay marriage beginning in the written decision by Suffolk Superior Court Justice Connolly has been the acknowledgement by judges, both in Superior Court and the Supreme Judicial Court, that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts delegates to the Legislation, not the judiciary the authority to regulate marriage.
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.
In supporting this third opportunity in exercising its powers delegated by the Massachusetts’ Constitution to regulate marriage the members of the Massachusetts Legislature will be affirming its support for the Massachusetts’ Constitution and maintaining the status quo that marriage is the relationship between one man and one woman.
Pass a same-sex/gay marriage law. Should there be strong support for same-sex/gay marriage in the Massachusetts Legislature by passing a law allowing same-sex/gay marriage the Massachusetts Legislature will be excising the authority to regulate marriage delegated to it by the Massachusetts Constitution.
Any discussion of marriage fatigue may be valid, but it is not because of those who wish to maintain the status quo that marriage be defined as the relationship between one man and one woman. Those advocating for changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex/gay couples have raised the issue. 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? For the third time now the Massachusetts Legislature is being present with the opportunity to excise the powers delegated to it by the Massachusetts Constitution, to regulate marriage. Two times it was through a citizens’ initiative petition to amend the Massachusetts’ Constitution, so it is the Massachusetts Legislature that too must accept responsibility for any complaint of marriage fatigue.
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.
Allowing the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to participate in the governing of the Commonwealth has been clearly expressed in the issue of changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex/gay couples. It is perhaps in the best interest for all to allow them to do so with this third opportunity presented to the Massachusetts Legislature to exercise the authority delegated to it by the Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to regulate marriage.