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MARRIAGE DIGEST: Pro-family groups get May 12 hearing

BOSTON (BP)–Pro-family groups have won a small victory and will be allowed to argue before a Massachusetts Superior Court judge May 12 that the controversial same-sex “marriage” ruling should be dismissed.

First, though, the groups must convince the judge that they should be allowed to intervene.

The Alliance Defense Fund, the Law and Liberty Institute and a Boston lawyer are representing former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and Massachusetts businessman Thomas A. Shields. Flynn and Shields want to see the ruling by the Massachusetts high court — called the Supreme Judicial Court — dismissed. The ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage,” handed down last November, is set to take effect May 17.

ADF attorney Glenn Lavy, who will make oral arguments, said being granted the hearing is a step forward.

“That was God’s grace to get the hearing,” he told Baptist Press. “That was an answer to prayer.”

Lavy will argue that the state constitution gives the judicial branch no authority over marriage. The Superior Court is two steps below the Supreme Judicial Court.

In its decision last year the state high court remanded the case to the Superior Court for entry of judgment.

“The term ‘marriage’ is in the Massachusetts Constitution, and it’s clear that only the people of Massachusetts have proper authority to amend the Constitution,” Lavy said in a statement. “If the Superior Court enters a judgment redefining marriage, it will effectively have amended the Constitution.”

The judge that will hear the arguments is different from the one that initially heard the case and ruled against same-sex “marriage,” Lavy said. That decision was appealed.

NO PROOF REQUIRED — Same-sex couples wanting a marriage license in Massachusetts won’t be required to offer proof of residency but instead will need only to sign a form, officials for the governor said May 4.

The news is a shift from the way Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney initially had intended to enforce a once-overlooked 1913 law. That law prevents out-of-state couples from getting married if their marriage would not be recognized in their home state.

While the law was written to affect interracial marriage laws, Romney says the law also impacts same-sex “marriages,” since no other state currently recognizes them.

For weeks administration officials had said same-sex couples would be required to show evidence of residency — for instance, a driver’s license. But Romney’s press secretary, Shawn Feddeman, told The Los Angeles Times that couples now only would be required to sign a sworn affidavit — “under pain and penalty of perjury” — that they are or intend to be residents of Massachusetts.

Some Massachusetts legislators have proposed a bill that would repeal the 1913 law. But Romney said May 6 that he would veto such a bill, the Associated Press reported.

ORE. REQUESTS STAY — Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, a Democrat, has asked state Judge Frank Bearden to delay the part of his ruling requiring Oregon to recognize marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples.

In a ruling April 20, Bearden told Multnomah County to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples but also told the state to record those that had already been issued. Up to that point the state had refused to do so. Bearden also encouraged the legislature to address the issue.

“Without a stay, some same-sex couples holding marriage licenses issued by Multnomah County may attempt to claim benefits that the Legislative Assembly may subsequently decide to modify as to all Oregonians or withhold from all Oregonians,” Myers said in a statement May 6.

AN APOLOGY — Multnomah County (Ore.) Commissioner Diane Linn, who headed the effort to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the Portland area, has issued an apology. At a board meeting May 6 Linn apologized for the way she handled the matter, the AP reported, although she said she did not regret allowing same-sex couples to get “married.”

She specifically apologized to Lonnie Roberts, a commissioner who was left out of the loop on the decision.

Linn is facing a recall effort. AP reported that as of May 5, some 19,000 of the required 36,000 signatures had been gathered. The deadline is June 7.

OREGONIANS CONSERVATIVE? — A majority of Oregon citizens, 55 percent, favor a state constitutional marriage amendment that would protect the traditional definition, thus banning same-sex “marriage,” according to a poll of 600 people by the Portland Tribune and KOIN-TV. Thirty-seven percent were opposed.

The poll, though, showed that 53 percent of Portland residents oppose the amendment. For more than a month, officials in Multnomah County, where Portland sits, issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. They stopped following a court order.

Pro-family groups in Oregon are attempting to gain 100,000 signatures by July 2 to put an amendment on the fall ballot. However, the actual signature-gathering has yet to begin because the ACLU has filed a challenge to the ballot title’s language. That case is before the Oregon Supreme Court.

CREWS FOR CONGRESS? — Ronald Crews, the president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said May 4 he likely will run for a seat in the House of Representatives, The Boston Globe reported. Crews, who has helped lead the effort to stop the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in the state, would run against Democratic Rep. James P. McGovern.

CALIF. BILL DEAD? — Fabian Nunez, speaker of the California Assembly, said May 4 that a bill legalizing same-sex “marriage” likely is dead for the year. It has passed one committee — a first for such a bill.

“I think we have to pick our battles, and it’s probably not a fight we engage in this year,” Nunez, who supports the bill, said, according to the AP. “But certainly I think during my tenure I would like to see people get the respect that they deserve regardless of who they love.”

MINN. GOVERNOR SPEAKS OUT — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, signed a pledge May 3 supporting traditional marriage and said he favors a marriage amendment to the state constitution. The amendment has passed the House, which is controlled by Republicans, but has been stuck in the Democrat-controlled Senate, The Minnesota Daily reported.

“Traditional marriage is itself a pledge, and I will take a pledge to defend it,” he was quoted as saying. “Some issues are too important to play the field with.”

If it passes the Senate, voters would decide the issue this fall.

COCHRAN ON BOARD — Sen. Thad Cochran, R.-Miss., signed on as a co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment May 3, brining to 15 the number of Senate supporters.

AMENDMENTS ADVANCE — State constitutional marriage amendments advanced in Louisiana and Tennessee in voting May 4-6.

In Louisiana, an amendment banning both same-sex “marriage” and Vermont-type civil unions passed a Senate committee 5-2. If it passes the House and Senate, it would go before voters this fall.

In Tennessee, the House passed a marriage amendment by a vote of 86-5. To make it into the Tennessee constitution, it must pass this session and the next session before going to voters in 2006.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

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  • Michael Foust