Pro-family groups across the nation accused a federal judge in Nebraska of judicial activism after he became the first in the U.S. to strike down a state amendment barring same-sex marriage or civil unions, nullifying a Nebraska measure passed by 70 percent of voters in 2000.

“This is a blatant display of judicial arrogance where a non-elected federal judge has shown a total disregard for what 70 percent of Nebraska voters stated, marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council.

“This unfortunate act of judicial activism makes it very clear that marriage is at risk in the federal courts and Congress must pass, and the people of this country must ratify, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Perkins said.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon ruled the amendment significantly burdened both the “expressive and intimate associational rights” of homosexuals and “creates a significant barrier to the plaintiffs right to petition or to participate in the political process.”

The challenge was filed by the homosexual-rights organization Lambda Legal and the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Project.

Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, said the “outrageous character of the decision is summarized in the court’s assertion that the ‘intent and purpose of the amendment is based on animus against [homosexuals].'”

Fahling said not only is Judge Bataillon’s assertion “demonstrably wrong, it is saturated with an all-too-familiar judicial contempt and antipathy for the moral norms of our culture.”

“We are no longer permitted to govern ourselves in the most fundamental areas of life,” he said. “Instead, we are called names by unelected judges who deconstruct our written constitution and our society with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball.”

Donald Wildmon, chairman of American Family Association, says the landmark ruling is evidence the country desperately needs a federal marriage amendment and judges who are not activists.

“The action of Judge Bataillon is exactly the situation we have been warning the public about,” he said. ” … Liberal judges have usurped the rights of the people. It is time to kill the filibustering of the liberal Democrats.”

In his ruling, Bataillon said the Nebraska measure interferes not only with the rights of gay couples, but its “broad proscriptions could also interfere with or prevent arrangements between potential adoptive or foster parents and children, related persons living together, and people sharing custody of children as well as gay individuals.”

Forty states have laws barring same-sex marriages, but Nebraska’s also prevented same-sex couples from having many of the legal protections accorded traditional couples.

State Attorney General Jon Bruning said he will appeal the ruling.

“Seventy percent of Nebraskans voted for the amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and I believe that the citizens of this state have a right to structure their constitution as they see fit,” he said.

Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, said the judge’s “irrational decision strikes at the very heart of the democratic process.”

“It appears we now only have two branches of government in this nation: the ACLU and leftist federal judges who impose their undemocratic views upon an unwilling public,” Sheldon said. “This decision is a dangerous one and it cannot stand. Our founding fathers carefully devised a system of checks and balances for the federal government — and no federal judge should have the legal authority to overturn a voter-passed amendment to a state constitution.”

Concerned Women for America chief counsel, Jan LaRue, noted similar recent rulings she believes should prompt actions from lawmakers.

“Three federal judges have struck down the ban on partial-birth abortion. In January, a federal judge ignored decades of Supreme Court precedent and declared the federal obscenity statutes unconstitutional. Yesterday, another federal judge ignored 6,000 years of human history to toss marriage out the window,” she said. “Can it get more obvious that it’s past time for the Senate to stop fiddling around and confirm some judges who don’t think the Constitution is their personal Play Dough?”

Robert Knight, director of CWA’s Culture & Family Institute, said, “Until we get judges who understand that their job in a government of balanced power is to apply the law, not trash it, we will see more judicial tyranny,”

Knight said the people of Nebraska were “slapped right across the face by this arrogant federal judge.”

“You can see why Senate liberals are also trashing democracy by denying an up-or-down vote on judicial nominees; they like their little monopoly, and don’t want the people to have any say, unless it fits their radical liberal agenda, of course,” Knight said.

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