BOSTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by pro-family lawyers Friday, paving the way for a decision legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts to take effect Monday.
Without comment justices turned away a request for an emergency stay from pro-family lawyers, who had lost first in district court Thursday and on the appeals court level Friday afternoon. Hours after the appeals court decision, the Supreme Court also rejected the appeal.
The loss at the nation’s highest court means that Massachusetts will become the first state in the nation Monday officially to legalize same-sex “marriage.” That is when a controversial ruling by the Massachusetts’ high court — issued in November but stayed for 180 days — takes effect.
“We will continue to press this case as far as necessary to ensure that the separation of powers principle is upheld in Massachusetts,” Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver, one of the pro-family lawyers, said in a statement.
While the pro-family groups lost at every level, they did get a small victory when the First Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to expedite the case and hear oral arguments June 7 — some three weeks after the same-sex “marriage” ruling takes effect.
But the appeals court said the standard for an emergency stay had not been met.
“In this instance, the showing so far made as to the likelihood of success is not sufficient to justify interim relief,” the appeals court wrote.
Staver said the legal battle is far from over.
“We will be asking for the court of appeals to issue an injunction to stop the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses,” he said. “The battle over same-sex marriage is far from over. In fact, it is just beginning. The circumstances in Massachusetts underscore the need for a federal constitutional amendment to preserve marriage between one man and one woman.”
The Liberty Counsel and three other pro-family groups argued that the ruling by the Massachusetts court violated both the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. Staver asserted that Massachusetts’ constitution gives authority over marriage laws only to the legislature and the governor. Because the legislature and the governor were not involved in the ruling, Staver argued, the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government was violated.
But the U.S. appeals court disagreed, saying that “it cannot plausibly be argued that every disagreement about allocation of power within a state government — even a very important disagreement -– raises a question” about violating the Constitution.
“That this disagreement is important is obvious; at least so far, it is not obvious why its resolution one way rather than another threatens a republican form of government,” the appeals court wrote.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 11 Massachusetts state legislators and Catholic Action League Vice President Robert Largess, a Boston citizen.
Staver and company said that the Massachusetts ruling violated the Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Sometimes called the Guarantee Clause, it states: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republic form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; an on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”
The first loss in federal court took place Thursday, when U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro also refused to halt the controversial ruling. Tauro said that the Massachusetts court did have authority over marriage laws because the legislature transferred “subject matter jurisdiction” to the court “in cases involving divorce, alimony, affirmation and annulment.”
“The SJC has the authority to interpret, and reinterpret, if necessary, the term marriage as it appears in the Massachusetts Constitution,” Tauro wrote. “The SJC’s reformulation of the term marriage in its opinion in the Goodridge case was, therefore, not a legislative act. Rather, it was a legitimate exercise of that court’s authority and responsibility to decide with finality all issues arising under the Massachusetts Constitution.”
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