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Federal judge in Calif. upholds Defense of Marriage Act

Updated June 17, 9:37 a.m. Eastern

SANTA ANA, Calif. (BP)–A federal judge in California upheld the federal Defense of Marriage Act June 16, marking the second time this year a court has ruled that the 1996 law governing “gay marriage” does not violate the U.S. Constitution.

The law prevents the federal government from recognizing “gay marriage” and gives states the option of doing the same. If DOMA is overturned, then “gay marriage” presumably would be legalized nationwide.

In a 33-page decision, U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor ruled against two homosexual men who had argued that DOMA violates the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection and due process protections.

The ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the attorney for the two men told the San Francisco Chronicle. The Ninth Circuit generally is considered the most liberal appeals court in the nation.

In his decision Taylor said the federal government has a legitimate interest in not recognizing “gay marriage.”

“The Court finds it is a legitimate interest to encourage the stability and legitimacy of what may be viewed as the optimal union for procreating and rearing children by both biological parents,” Taylor, who sits on the U.S. federal court for the Central District of California, wrote. “Because procreation is necessary to perpetuate humankind, encouraging the optimal union for procreation is a legitimate government interest.”

The two homosexual men were denied a marriage license after applying for one in Orange County, Calif. They then sued both the county and the state, seeking to overturn California’s laws banning “gay marriage” and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Technically, Taylor’s ruling upheld only section 3 of DOMA, which deals with the federal recognition of “gay marriage.” Taylor ruled the two men did not have legal standing to challenge section 2 — the part that gives states discretion on the issue — because they did not have a valid marriage license. Taylor also abstained in deciding the constitutionality of California’s marriage laws because they are being challenged in a separate lawsuit in state court.

Taylor’s ruling marks the latest DOMA victory in federal court for pro-family groups. In January a federal judge in Florida also upheld the Defense of Marriage Act. That lawsuit since has been dropped. A federal bankruptcy judge in August 2004 also upheld DOMA. Another case against DOMA is pending in a federal court in Oklahoma.

Two pro-family groups were allowed to intervene in the case. The California-based Proposition 22 Legal Defense and Education Fund was represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, while the Campaign for California Families was represented by Liberty Counsel.

“This court has defended the rights of voters to express what we know about marriage: that it is, was, and always will be a union between one man and one woman,” Byron Babione, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said in a statement.

Said Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver: “Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. I am thrilled that the court issued a common sense decision. Surely the state has legitimate interests in preserving marriage as a complementary opposite sex relationship. Traditional marriage is good for children, families and society.”

The lawyer for the two homosexual men had argued that bans on “gay marriage” were similar to bans on interracial marriage struck down decades ago in the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision. But Taylor disagreed.

“Loving did not confer a new fundamental right or hold the fundamental right to marry included the unrestricted right to marry whomever one chooses,” Taylor wrote. “The Court concludes the fundamental due process right to marry does not include a fundamental right to same-sex marriage or Plaintiffs’ right to marry each other.”

Lawsuits are at the heart of the struggle by homosexual activists to legalize “gay marriage.” Eight lawsuits seeking its legalization are pending on the state level and two on the federal level (including the California suit). Conservatives say the suits point to the need for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The California lawsuit is Smelt v. Orange County.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust