By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 5, 2014
The battle over marriage is heating up in both Virginia and Utah this week.
In the Mormon dominated Beehive State, attorneys filed a brief in their appeal of District Judge Robert Shelby’s Dec. 20, 2013, ruling that struck down the state’s marriage protection amendment. In Virginia, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen heard oral arguments in the first gay marriage case to get that far in the South.
While homosexual forces there tried to liken same-sex marriage bans to Jim Crow laws, attorneys defending the rights of voters to define the institution in their own states put the focus on children and how they fare best in traditional families.
“We have marriage laws in society because we have children, not because we have adults,” Attorney David Nimocks of Alliance Defending Freedom told Judge Wright Allen. Similarly, lawyers in Utah are pointing to the traditional, two-parent family as the best place for child-rearing.
“The diversity of having both a mom and a dad is the ideal parenting environment,” Gene Schaerr wrote in initial arguments filed late Monday. “That model is not intended to demean other family structures, any more than giving an A to some students demeans others.”
“Maintaining the man-woman definition helps prevent further erosion of the traditional concept of marriage as being principally a child-centered institution,” Utah’s filing further noted, describing it as “focused first and foremost on the welfare of children rather than the emotional interests of adults.”
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said many people don’t want to think about the larger ramifications of same-sex marriage and how children are affected, but that he’s hopeful that justices in these cases will.
Meanwhile, attorneys for homosexual couples in both states are urging judges to ignore voters’ wishes and view same-sex marriage as a fundamental, equal protection right under the 14th Amendment. They are pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last summer to strike down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Utah case, headed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, follows Judge Shelby’s ruling overturning that state’s marriage amendment, which was approved by 66 percent of voters in 2004. Virginians passed their own same-sex marriage ban in 2006, though their new attorney general, Mark Herring, who supported the amendment as a Senator, has now flip-flopped and is joining the attack against it.
Dr. Creech said activist rulings like the one from the bench late last year in Utah are discouraging, but he is encouraged by the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay to stop same-sex weddings in that state until the appeal is heard.
“Another fact that gay marriage pushers don’t want to admit is the reasoning on which the High Court struck down a portion of DOMA last year,” Dr. Creech added. “It was invalidated on the basis that it was a federal intrusion into state power.”
He said if the Supreme Court keeps that philosophy, the cases should ultimately be decided based on the will of the voters in each state.
Though no exact timetable has been set, Judge Wright Allen said she would rule soon on the Virginia case. If the marriage protection amendment is struck down, a stay has already been requested to keep gay couples from heading down the aisle while the case is appealed. In Utah, more than 1,000 homosexual couples got married before the stay of Judge Shelby’s ruling was issued, complicating the matter, especially since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has now said the couples will get federal benefits even though the state is contesting their marriages.
Beyond Utah and Virginia, there are a dozen or so states where marriage protection amendments are being challenged by federal lawsuits. In North Carolina, the General Assembly has asked an ADF attorney to monitor the work of Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office as it prepares to defend North Carolina’s amendment. Cooper has announced he supports gay marriage, though he said he can put his personal feelings aside to defend the state’s laws.