OLYMPIA, Wash. (BP)–Washington’s Supreme Court heard arguments March 8 in a case that could make the state the second in the nation to legalize same-sex “marriage.” A ruling is expected in the next few months.
The nine members of the court peppered both sides with tough questions and gave no indication how they might rule.
The case began when 19 homosexual couples sued to have the state’s Defense of Marriage Act overturned. They won in the trial court level when two separate judges ruled that DOMA — which explicitly bans “gay marriage” — violates the Washington state constitution. Both of those rulings were appealed to the high court.
“We’re asking you to adopt a vision of our community committed to fairness and equal respect of citizens and children by striking DOMA’s exclusion and extending the rights and benefits of marriage to all of Washington’s citizens,” Paul Lawrence, representing the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and 11 of the couples, told the court.
Homosexual activists won a similar case in Massachusetts when that state’s high court legalized same-sex “marriage.” A victory in Washington would give activists legal wins on both coasts. The nation’s major homosexual groups want to use victories on the state level to strengthen their legal case, eventually resulting in a lawsuit in federal court. A win at the U.S. Supreme Court would force “gay marriage” on all 50 states. For that reason, social conservatives are backing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Although pro-family groups in Washington state are promoting an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex “marriage,” it faces an uphill battle in the left-leaning state legislature.
Patricia Novotny, an attorney with the Northwest Women’s Law Center — which is representing the other couples — said that Vermont-style civil unions would fall short of the couples’ request. Only “gay marriage,” she said, would do. Civil unions, she said, “are not portable.”
“I think we have learned the hard way that separate is not equal,” she said. “… That creates an atmosphere of submissive prejudice.”
Attorneys for the other side argued that the DOMA law is needed to protect an institution that is vital to procreation and childrearing.
“[T]he optimal environment for raising children is where their mother and father … provide dual-gender modeling for that child,” Steve O’Ban of the Alliance Defense Fund told the justices. ADF is representing legislators and pro-family groups.
“And so as a general proposition we’re asking our society, ‘What is the optimal arrangement?’ We say it is a household headed up by a man and a woman.”
William Collins, Washington’s senior assistant attorney general, argued that the right to marry must include a man and a woman.
“The only time that that right has been recognized is in the context of a man and woman,” he said. “I’m aware of no appellate decision that says that there is a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry.
“… [I]t would be irrational not to say to opposite-sex couples, ‘We want you to have your sexual relationship in the context of marriage.'”
Justice Barbara Madsen asked Collins, “Is the state just hanging onto a dinosaur?”
Collins said it wasn’t.
“The vast majority of children come into the world sort of the old-fashioned way, through sexual intercourse between men and women,” Collins said. “I just don’t think there’s any doubt that that is a rational basis that sustains the statute that we’re talking about.”
Justice Tom Chambers interrupted Collins, saying, “You just said that only by intercourse between a man and a woman that we have children. I’m sorry, but technology proves you wrong.”
Collins replied: “I agree that there is assisted technology, but the sexual relationship between a man and a woman can produce children. The sexual relationship between a same-sex couple cannot.”
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage