The ruling from California’s Supreme Court that allowed same-sex marriage will spark a flood of lawsuits across the nation by homosexuals demanding recognition in their home cities and states unless the decision is stayed pending a vote of the people, top lawyers on the case said today.
The 4-3 ruling May 15 concluded California’s laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman are unconstitutional. State officials have told county clerks they can start issuing marriage licenses to “gays” June 17, because the state Supreme Court has until the end of business June 16 to decide whether to grant a requested stay of its ruling.
Clerks are being told “bride” and “groom” will be replaced on various forms with “Party A” and “Party B.”
L to R: Carlos R. Moreno, Joyce L. Kennard, Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, Ron M. George participated in the majority opinion declaring a one-man-one-woman limit to marriage unconstitutional. Ming W. Chin, Marvin R. Baxter and Carol A. Corrigan of the California Supreme Court filed dissents
Lawyers who have worked on the case noted during a panel discussion today sponsored by the Family Research Council at the National Press Club that California’s court ruling has a distinct difference from the 2004 Massachusetts decision that opens the door for the spread of same-sex marriage across the nation.
Massachusetts does not grant same-sex marriage licenses to non-residents, preventing waves of homosexuals from traveling to the state to marry and then returning home to demand recognition of their status.
California, however, has no such limitation.
New York’s governor, David Paterson, even announced today that although same-sex weddings are not legal in the state, officials will recognize same-sex licenses issued in another state or country.
Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow with FRC Action, said at the panel discussion that when same-sex couples “marry” in California, then return home, they will demand recognition.
“Unlike [the Massachusetts ruling in 2004], the California ruling will spawn lawsuits all over the country, creating an intense and passionate national debate over marriage,” he said.
Blackwell forecast the ruling eventually could create a “constitutional showdown in the United States Supreme Court.”
Glen Lavy, a lead attorney in the California case and a senior counsel with Alliance Defense Fund, has requested – along with other groups – that the court issue a stay of its ruling.
That could allow time for voters in the state in November to determine the fate of a proposed state constitutional amendment that would overrule the high court. The amendment would insert into the constitution the requirement that marriages are recognized only between one man and one woman.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, pointed out court decisions of bare majorities of 4-3 were involved in both Massachusetts and California.
“One-vote margins have effectively changed the landscape of America, and in California particularly, undermined the will of the people,” Staver said.
He noted in 2000, more than 61 percent of Californians, or 4.6 million people, voted in favor of Proposition 22, which declared marriage solely as between one man and one woman. But that was a state law, and subject to review by the courts. This fall’s constitutional amendment, for which sponsors have submitted more than 1.1 million signatures now under review, would not.
A poll reported by the Associated Press yesterday showed 51 percent of Californians support same-sex marriage and 42 percent oppose it. But Staver claimed the process used in the survey is inaccurate and other polls show opposite results.
Lavy is confident California voters will adopt a marriage amendment in November to overturn the court’s ruling.
But he warned even with that outcome, “the court’s creation of a suspect class for sexual orientation is a bigger issue.”
He said laws that hail “anti-discrimination” for “gays,” lesbians and transgenders will prompt accusations of discrimination against business owners with religious convictions against homosexuality. The owners would be banned legally from denying services to same-sex couples.
“Once you elevate homosexuality to the level of race … you will impact churches significantly, both in employment practices and in tax exempt status as well as in freedom of speech,” Staver said.
Lavy said will have “serious implications for religious liberty in California and perhaps other places.”
If the California ruling is overturned by voters in November, the “suspect class” of homosexuality will still be upheld, according to the panelists, unless the courts vacate previous decisions.
Lavy later noted that arguments supporting same-sex marriage mirror arguments in favor of legalizing polygamy and incestuous marriage.
He said footnotes in the recent ruling that only allow same-sex marriages between “two consenting adults” won’t hold weight when individuals argue that their sexual orientation demands otherwise.
Panelists agreed children do best in an environment with one man as a father and one woman as a mother.
“When you break down that model you have catastrophic consequences in our society,” Staver said.
Lavy said the full societal implications of the California ruling may not be seen for decades.
He called the ruling a “social experiment” prompted by judges who failed to search out evidence from areas around the world where such practices already are institutionalized.
Blackwell also noted the issue will have an impact on elections.
“Tens of millions of [American] voters are concerned about marriage,” he said. “This will be a center stage issue in this upcoming election from the top of the ballot all the way down to the last public office.”
Sterling Meyers is an intern for WND.