WASHINGTON (BP)–The Supreme Court Oct. 10 declined to hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, letting stand a law that gives states the option of banning “gay marriage.”
Without comment, the high court refused to take up the lawsuit, Smelt v. Orange County, filed by two California homosexual men who sought to overturn both the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s laws banning “gay marriage.” They lost last year at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals before appealing to the Supreme Court.
It marked the first time the high court has been asked to consider the constitutionality of the law.
DOMA, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, helped spark a nationwide movement to pass laws and constitutional amendments protecting the natural definition of marriage. In addition to giving states leeway on the issue of “gay marriage,” it also prevents the federal government from recognizing “marriage” between homosexuals.
Congress passed DOMA during a time when Hawaii’s Supreme Court appeared on the verge of legalizing “gay marriage.” But before the state high court could do so, Hawaii’s voters passed a constitutional amendment giving the state legislature the authority to ban “gay marriage,” which it did.
Massachusetts’ highest court legalized “gay marriage” more than two years ago, and New Jersey’s Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on the issue this month. If DOMA is overturned, then all 50 states presumably would be forced to recognize “gay marriage.”
Despite the DOMA victory, Christian legal groups cautioned conservatives against celebrating. One reason is that the major liberal and homosexual activist groups — such as ACLU and Lambda Legal — didn’t support the lawsuit because they feared the legal timing wasn’t right and they wanted instead to focus on state-level suits. Secondly, five states — California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland and New Jersey — remain involved in “gay marriage” suits.
“Americans must continue to remain vigilant in the defense of marriage, especially since the attacks come from numerous directions,” Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund, said in a news release.
“Hundreds of leading marriage opponents have stated that their goal is to eliminate any difference in gender and eliminate marriage completely,” he added, pointing to a document, “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” issued by liberal and homosexual activists in July.
Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver said the plethora of lawsuits point to the need for constitutional marriage amendments. Both ADF and Liberty Counsel were involved in the suit defending DOMA.
“The success in the courtrooms must become enshrined in our state and federal constitutions, so that we will never have to wonder whether some judge will undermine marriage with the stroke of a pen,” Staver said in a news release.
Last May a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit tossed out the lawsuit, ruling that the two men who brought the case lacked standing because they had no valid marriage license.
“Were they to change their residence to Massachusetts, their situation might change, but they have placed nothing before us to suggest that they have gone, or intend to go, to that state,” Judge Ferdinand F. Fernandez, a nominee of President George W. Bush, wrote for the majority. The other judges were nominated by Presidents Carter and Clinton.
Compiled by Michael Foust.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage