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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Activists keep focus on high courts in Wash., N.J.; Ga. governor may call special session this year; …

TRENTON, N.J. (BP)–Each week, conservative and liberal activists alike keep their focus on two state courts — one in Trenton, N.J., the other in Olympia, Wash. — that are 3,000 miles apart but at the heart of the debate over “gay marriage.”

Both courts are considering separate cases that could result in the legalization of “gay marriage.” New Jersey’s court heard its case in February; Washington’s court heard its case 14 months ago, in March 2005.

Either one could hand down a decision any day.

“We had obviously hoped we’d have a decision by now. The whole country is watching,” Jeff Kingsbury, an Olympia, Wash., city councilman, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A homosexual, Kingsbury plans on “marrying” his partner if they get a favorable ruling.

A decision upholding the natural definition of marriage in either state would be a major victory for conservatives. Both courts are known for their liberal rulings siding with homosexual activists. New Jersey’s high court may be best remembered for a 1999 decision in which it said the Boy Scouts could not prevent homosexuals from becoming troop leaders — a decision that was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Both cases are critical in the nationwide strategy by homosexual activists to legalize “gay marriage” in all 50 states. Before taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, they hope to tally several wins on the state level. So far, Massachusetts is the only state to redefine marriage. Activists will argue a “gay marriage” case before another state high court — New York’s — on May 31.

Activists on both sides of the issue have been guessing as to why the Washington court has not issued a decision by now. It is highly unusual for a court to wait more than a year to hand down a decision. Massachusetts’ court waited eight months to issue its ruling.

“This may be the most scrutinized opinion this court has ever handed down,” Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle attorney who supports “gay marriage,” told the Post-Intelligencer. “If we win, this will be read the world over by literally millions of people. It will stretch the bounds.”

The court does not discuss its cases, so there are few if any clues as to why it has waited so long. Washington Chief Justice Gerry Alexander told the newspaper: “I can safely tell you that the court is aware of the intense public interest in this case. Beyond that, we WILL rule and then you will know what each and every one of us thinks.”

One possibility — and one that would draw much criticism — is that the nine-member court is waiting until after the November election to rule. Three justices — Alexander, Tom Chambers and Susan Owens — face re-election this year.

But there are other possibilities. The court may be struggling to find agreement for a majority opinion. It’s also possible that votes may have changed sides.

The Washington court generally issues its opinions on Thursdays. The New Jersey court, though, hands down its rulings throughout the week.

Some conservatives in Washington state are braced for the possibility that the state court will legalize “gay marriage.”

“I personally believe that’s what they’ll do,” Gary Randall of the Faith and Freedom Network told the Post-Intelligencer. “I think the court may be more politicized than any of us realize.”

None of the aforementioned three states — New Jersey, New York and Washington — have marriage amendments.

SPECIAL SESSION IN GEORGIA? — Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, said May 17 he may call a special session of the state legislature to pass a constitutional marriage amendment, the Associated Press reported. A Georgia state judge May 16 struck down the state’s marriage amendment, which had been passed by 76 percent of voters.

Although the ruling is being appealed, Perdue said he’ll call a special session if the Georgia Supreme Court doesn’t rule on the amendment by Aug. 7. The goal would be to place an amendment on the ballot for November. In her ruling, the judge said the current amendment violates the state constitution’s single-subject rule because it deals with two subjects — “gay marriage” and same-sex civil unions.

FIRST LADY ON MARRIAGE AMENDMENT — First Lady Laura Bush spoke up about a federal constitutional marriage amendment May 19, saying she doesn’t believe it should be used as a “campaign tool” and that people don’t want courts making decisions about the issue. The Senate is set to debate the amendment in June.

“I don’t think it should be used as a campaign tool, obviously,” she told Fox News Sunday, according to a transcript. “But I do think it’s something that people in the United States want to debate. And it requires a lot of sensitivity to talk about the issue — a lot of sensitivity.

“People, I have found, over the country don’t want the governor of Massachusetts or the mayor of San Francisco to make the choice for them —- the courts of Massachusetts, I should say. So I think it deserves debate. I think it’s something that people want to talk about.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust