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Appeals court won’t stop Mass. same-sex ‘marriages’

BOSTON (BP)–A U.S. appeals court June 29 declined to halt Massachusetts’ same-sex “marriages,” saying that precedent prevents the court from getting involved.

The three-judge panel for the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that contrary to the plaintiffs’ arguments, the controversial decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalizing same-sex “marriage” does not infringe on that state’s republican form of government.

The case is being appealed.

“The Guarantee clause does not require a particular allocation of power within each state so long as a republican form of government is preserved,” the court wrote. “Indeed, the forms of each state government at the time of the adoption of the Constitution varied in terms of separations of powers.”

The case was brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of 11 Massachusetts state legislators and Catholic Action League Vice President Robert Largess, a Boston citizen.

Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver had argued in court June 7 that the Massachusetts court’s decision infringed on the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government — called the Guarantee Clause — because the state constitution gives authority over marriage laws to the governor and legislature, and not the judiciary.

The court disagreed, saying that while legal scholars have disagreed over the meaning of the Guarantee Clause, Supreme Court precedent prevents federal courts from getting involved in most cases concerning questions of a republican form of government.

“Such an intervention would itself threaten federal court interference with the very form of government that the people of Massachusetts have chosen for themselves,” the court wrote. “Perhaps, in unusual and extreme cases, such as the establishment of a monarchy by a state in place of a republican form of government, individuals could utilize the federal courts to enforce the Guarantee Clause … That is not the case.”

Staver said the case would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We will continue to press this case to the United States Supreme Court to ensure that the separation of powers principle is upheld in Massachusetts,” he said in a press statement. “This case is vitally important — the republican representative form of government must be restored so the people can have a chance to define marriage instead of having the decision foisted upon them by the Massachusetts Judiciary. The battle over same-sex marriage is far from over. In fact, it is just beginning.”

Last November the Massachusetts’ high court ruled that same-sex “marriage” must be legalized but it stayed its decision 180 days. That stay expired May 17, when Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

Liberty Counsel had failed in the days leading up to May 17 to stop the ruling from taking effect. On May 14 the First Circuit refused a request to issue an emergency injunction against the ruling, and the Supreme Court also refused to get involved. However, the First Circuit did agree to hear the case.

Staver’s argument depends on a specific interpretation of Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. The article states: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republic form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust