ALBANY, N.Y. (BP)–For the second time in three months, a New York state appeals court has upheld the state’s laws and refused to legalize “gay marriage.”
The latest decision, a 5-0 ruling, was handed down Feb. 16 by an appellate court based in Albany. The first decision, a 4-1 ruling, was issued in early December by an appeals court in New York City.
Writing for the court Feb. 16, Justice John A. Lahtinen said the issue of “gay marriage” was one for the state legislature, and not the courts, to decide. The Albany court actually was ruling on three separate cases that had been combined, the Associated Press reported.
“The legislature acted consistent with its constitutional role, and the parameters that it placed on marriage are undergirded by sufficient governmental interests to uphold marriage as historically understood and defined,” Lahtinen wrote. “In our opinion, the legislature is where changes to marriage of the nature urged by plaintiffs should be addressed.”
While the two rulings are good news for social conservatives, the state’s highest court — the Court of Appeals — will make the final decision. The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the Albany-based case, said it would appeal the decision. The December case, brought by the homosexual group Lambda Legal, already had been appealed. Lambda Legal filed its first brief before the Court of Appeals Feb. 7.
“We knew all along that this issue would have to be decided by the state’s highest court,” Lambda Legal attorney Susan Sommer said in a statement.
New York is one of nine states that have been sued by liberal and homosexual activists seeking to legalize “gay marriage.” The New Jersey Supreme Court heard such a case Feb. 15. Washington state’s highest court heard oral arguments in a “gay marriage” case in March 2005 and is expected to issue its decision within the next month.
It is possible that by the end of 2006, courts in three states will have legalized “gay marriage” (Massachusetts, Washington and New Jersey). Meanwhile, 19 states have adopted constitutional amendments protecting the natural definition of marriage, and that number is expected to climb higher by December.
CHANGE OF HEART ASSISTS IDAHO AMENDMENT — Five Idaho Republican state senators had a change of heart regarding a marriage amendment Feb. 15, allowing the state Senate to pass it, 26-9, and place it on the November ballot. Last year, those five Republicans voted against the amendment, preventing it from getting the required 24 votes for a two-third majority.
According to the Idaho Statesman newspaper, State Sen. Brad Little said he changed his mind because the people in his district supported the amendment. Another senator, John Goedde, said he changed votes because he was tired of debating it.
“Four years maybe is enough for this issue,” Goedde said, according to the Statesman. “We’ve had it and we’ve had it and we’ve had it again.”
N.H., W.VA. AMENDMENTS FAIL — Proposed constitutional marriage amendments in New Hampshire and West Virginia appear to be dead, at least for this year.
In New Hampshire, a House committee Feb. 15 defeated a proposed amendment by a vote of 14-7.
In West Virginia, an attempt Feb. 15 to have a proposed amendment pulled out of a committee failed on a mostly party-line 35-63 vote, the AP reported. It needed a simple majority. The amendment has been stuck in committee, with the Democratic chairman failing to act. Three Democrats joined with all the Republicans present in support of the amendment.
NO RULING YET IN MASS. — The highest court in Massachusetts told lawyers Feb. 9 that it was extending its internal 130-day deadline to issue a much-awaited “gay marriage” decision, AP reported. The court is considering the constitutionality of a 1913 law that has been used to prevent out-of-state homosexual couples from acquiring marriage licenses. If the law is struck down, then couples from the other 49 states could get “married” in the Bay State and sue in their home state for recognition.
NEB. AMENDMENT GETS HEARING — A three-judge panel on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Feb. 13 in a case concerning the constitutionality of Nebraska’s marriage amendment. Last May, a lower court judge ruled that the amendment violated the U.S. Constitution. Nebraskans adopted the amendment in 2000 by a margin of 70-30 percent.
The hearing went well for amendment supporters, according to conservatives who were in attendance.
“I really don’t think that it could have gone any better for the state of Nebraska and the 70 percent of the people that voted to protect the institution of marriage,” Dave Bydalek, executive director of Family First, told Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink.
Two of the judges, Bydalek said, told the ACLU attorney, “We don’t buy your argument.”
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down the amendment last year, writing, “The court finds that [the amendment] is directed at gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people and is intended to prohibit their political ability to effectuate changes opposed by the majority.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage