The California Supreme Court today trashed society’s traditional institution of marriage, opening it up for same-sex duos because retaining the historic definition “cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest.”
In a 4-3 decision replete with concurring and dissenting opinions filed by individual members of the court, the majority opinion determined state laws specifying marriage as being between a man and a woman were unconstitutional.
“First, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples,” the court opined. “Permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights.”
Second, the court said, “Retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children…
“Third, because of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples,” the court said. “Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite-sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise – now emphatically rejected by this state – that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects ‘second-class citizens’…”
Joining Chief Justice Ron George in the majority opinion were Carlos R. Moreno, Joyce L. Kennard and Kathryn Mickle Werdegard. Dissenting were Marvin Baxter and Ming Chin. Carol Corrigan wrote a separate dissent.
Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America, accused the court of usurping the role of the legislature.
“The California Supreme Court has engaged in the worst kind of judicial activism today, abandoning its role as an objective interpreter of the law and, instead, legislating from the bench. It’s absurd to suggest that the framers of the California state constitution could have ever imagined there’d be a day when so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ would even be conceptualized, much less seriously considered. If anyone then had suggested the absurd notion, early Californians would have laughed their smocks off,” he said.
“So-called ‘same-sex’ marriage is counterfeit marriage. Marriage is, and has always been, between a man and a woman. We know that it’s in the best interest of children to be raised with a mother and a father. To use children as guinea pigs in radical San Francisco-style social experimentation is deplorable,” he said. “The majority of Americans recognize the fact that legitimate marriage and family are cornerstones of a healthy society. Reasonable people have had enough and are refusing to allow radical extremists to redefine marriage and family into oblivion. So-called ‘same-sex marriage’ is a ridiculous and oxymoronic notion that has been forced into popular lexicon by homosexual activists and their extremist left-wing allies.”
“The people of California decided eight years ago that marriage in our state will be defined as between one man and one woman. Four arrogant, elitist, activist judges decided that they know better than the people how marriage should be defined,” said Karen England, of Capitol Resource Institute.
“It is certainly disappointing that the court, in declaring a right to same-sex marriage in the California Constitution, has shown an outrageous lack of respect for a majority of California voters and ignored a long history of legal precedent supporting traditional marriage,” said legal counsel Jennifer Monk of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, one of the organizations that worked on the case.
California Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said, “With the passage of Proposition 22, the voters of California agreed that marriage is ‘between a man and a woman.’ PERIOD. The court’s decision today is further proof that some activist judges value their own beliefs over the will of the people.”
“This ruling defies logic. It is a gross departure from the rule of law. It is outrageous. Traditional marriage is common sense. Yet, this decision is nonsense. No matter how you stretch California’s Constitution, you cannot find anywhere in its text, its history, or tradition that now, after so many years, it magically protects what most societies condemn. Same-sex marriage is not part of our history nor is it woven in the fabric of fundamental freedom,” said Mathew Staver, chief of Liberty Counsel, which also worked on the case.
He cited a dissent by Justices Baxter and Chin, which concluded, “In reaching this decision, I believe, the majority violates the separation of powers, and thereby commits profound error.”
Another individual opinion called the majority opinion “legal jujitsu.”
The ruling disposed of several individual challenges to California’s marriage statutes that arose after the state’s voters, by a margin of 4.6 million to 2.9 million, adopted a law that states California would recognize only marriages involving one man and one woman.
That same plan now is being proposed for a constitutional amendment by the ProtectMarriage.com campaign, a broad-based coalition of pro-family organizations, churches and individuals. The organization already has collected about 1.2 million signatures to put the issue on the ballot this fall, although those still must be verified.
That’s now needed, the campaign says, because even though voters overwhelmingly passed the Proposition 22 law, that was a “regular statute” within the outlines of the California Family Code. But politicians and judges have been bypassing it, and chipping away at it, to ignore the will of the voters, the campaign says.
For example: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom thumbed his nose at California voters by issuing marriage licenses to thousands of homosexual couples and court decisions have undermined Proposition 22 and marriage by affirming legislative plans to give “domestic partners” the full legal status of married spouses.
The battle dates to 1996, when then-Assemblyman William J. “Pete” Knight introduced legislation to protect traditional marriage. It failed by one vote in the state Senate.
He later led the Protection of Marriage Coalition to gather more than 600,000 petition signatures and qualify Prop 22 for the ballot, an effort that was approved by 61.4 percent of the voters in 2000.
It reads, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
State lawmakers, however, immediately began passing laws to give same-sex “domestic partners” the legal status of married spouses in various sections of the state law, and outgoing Gov. Gray Davis in one of his final acts, signed into a law a plan conferring the full legal status of married spouses on homosexual “domestic partners.”
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who launched the battle over same-sex marriages in California
A judge who heard the resulting legal challenge found that Proposition 22 limits only the word “marriage,” not the legal status of marriage.
Then came Newsom’s San Francisco action, openly defying Proposition 22 by issuing 4,000 “licenses” to same-sex duos. The state Supreme Court stopped that, finding Newsom didn’t have the authority to rewrite state law, but left the door open for new legal challenges, which prompted the cases decided today.
And the dispute has continued. Just weeks ago WND reported that a new San Francisco plan that could be the last step needed to eliminate marriage from society was being advanced in the California State Senate.
SB 1066 by Sen. Carole Migden, a Democrat, gained approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This bill functionally abolishes marriage,” warned Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families. “Why get married, since you can get all the ‘goodies’ of marriage without the commitment of marriage?”
He also said the decision will galvanize the people of California to participate in the amendment campaign. “The people will have the last word,” he told WND.
The proposal, according to Concerned Women for America of California, “extends California domestic partnerships to any two persons who share a common residence and are over 18. This means that all marriage benefits would be given to mere roommates…”
“The California legislature has already given away marriage benefits to same-sex couples without the consent of the people by passing existing domestic partnership laws,” the group said. “Migden asserts that SB 1066 is ‘a very practical expansion that absolutely reflects the new family unit today.’”
Six different cases stemming from the San Francisco situation were consolidated on the appeal, and Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University’s School of Law, was one of those arguing on behalf of traditional marriage before the high court.
Staver suggested the fundamental constitutional right to marry includes rights and obligations that cannot be eliminated, because they come from the inherent nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“Marriage is more than a private relationship between two people who love each other,” he said. “While it is a private relationship, marriage serves a public purpose to preserve society’s interest in procreation and to provide the optimal environment for children.”
Supporters of the constitutional amendment plan say that is the only way to stop politicians and courts from “re-defining marriage.” They note that about two dozen other states already have added such provisions to their constitutions. In fact, of 28 states where such a vote has come before voters, it had been approved 27 times.
Staver told WND earlier the state has an interest in protecting the institution of marriage, which predates government, in order to encourage responsible procreation among opposite-sex couples.
“Among opposite-sex couples, procreation is sometimes planned and sometimes unplanned. Children are thus the natural consequence of opposite-sex relationships. Providing for the next generation is essential to any society, but providing an environment that encourages stable relationships for the well-being of children is critically important,” he said. “Marriage thus provides encouragement for opposite-sex couples to unite for the sake of children. Same-sex couples do not need marriage to encourage their unions, because such relationships never produce unplanned children.”
When Newsom launched his activism for same-sex marriages, Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of Campaign for Children and Families and its executive director Randy Thomasson.
The California Supreme Court eventually ruled 7-0 that the mayor lacked the authority to issue licenses to same-sex couples. But the court voted only 5-2 to overturn the licenses that already had been issued. Then several of those duos, as well as the city and county of San Francisco, filed a series of lawsuits challenging the state’s marriage laws.
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