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West Coast quickly becoming focus of ‘gay marriage’ debate


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Massachusetts, the same-sex “marriage” capital of America, soon may have to share its title.

In the months since the Bay State became the first to legalize same-sex “marriage,” the national debate has shifted 3,000 miles away to the West Coast — where California, Oregon and Washington have seen homosexual activists make significant gains.

If the cards fall their way, it’s possible that one year from now at least two of the states could have legalized same-sex “marriage.” In that scenario — with states on both coasts issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — homosexual activists would have a much stronger legal case in suing to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Consider:

— The Oregon Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a same-sex “marriage” case Nov. 17 — some two weeks after citizens there vote on a state constitutional marriage amendment. If the amendment passes, then the court case is moot. But if it fails, nothing is guaranteed. Many observers in the state believe the court likely will side with homosexual activists.

— Two Washington state judges issued pro-same-sex “marriage” rulings in recent weeks, one in August and the other in September. The state =Supreme Court will make the final decision. Unlike Oregon — where citizens gathered signatures to place a marriage amendment on the ballot — Washington’s laws require the legislature to initiate constitutional amendments. If an amendment is to pass, lawmakers must make the first move.

— California assembly speaker Fabian Nunez said in August that the state legislature will take up a bill next year to legalize same-sex “marriage” — and he expects it to pass. It is not known if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, would sign it. In addition, a same-sex “marriage” case is making its way through the California courts.

Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton said that homosexual activists have planned their strategy well. In Massachusetts and the three West Coast states, courts are considerably more liberal than they are in other parts of the country.

“It’s really quite a simple strategy and a reasonable strategy in the sense of going where you are most likely to get the most sympathetic hearing and your opponents are going to have the most difficulty checking and countering what you do,” Stanton told Baptist Press.

The push for same-sex “marriage” in Oregon will be cut short if the proposed constitutional amendment passes Nov. 2. The amendment appears to have popular support. It made its way on the ballot when pro-family groups gathered twice the number of signatures needed. Also, it has been favored in public polls this year, with support from anywhere from 51 to 61 percent.

“We know that Oregon has become the focus of national attention from all of the gay and lesbian organizations around the country, so what happens here is critical,” Oregon Family Council spokesperson Georgene Rice told BP.

Although as many as 11 states could be voting on marriage amendments Nov. 2, homosexual activists are targeting Oregon, believing that’s where they have the best chance to win. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has given $500,000 to defeat the amendment while the Human Rights Campaign has pledged $100,000.

Financially, pro-family groups are at a disadvantage, Rice said, adding that national pro-family groups have spent much of their resources trying to pass a federal marriage amendment.

Rice said she does not want to leave it up to the Oregon Supreme Court. Both the governor and the attorney general have speculated that the justices likely will legalize same-sex “marriage.”

“We think we may have a 50-50 chance, but that’s an optimistic assessment. So it could go either way,” she said. “… Oregon is a place that is ripe for — at least through the judiciary — making that kind of decision. So we’re not relying on the courts to support marriage for us here.”

The Washington state Supreme Court has yet to schedule oral arguments in that state’s case, although observers there say the court could hear arguments as early as later this year. Such a fast pace would give pro-family groups little time to strategize. The Massachusetts case was filed in April 2001 and wasn’t decided by that state’s high court until November 2003. The Washington state case is moving faster.

“What we are looking to do is attempting to educate the public on what needs to take place,” Jason Krafsky of the pro-family group Families Northwest told BP. “[The legislature] can choose not to act. [But] they will act if they’re hearing from their constituents — that their constituents want a constitutional amendment.”

The legislature has tackled the issue of same-sex “marriage” before, passing a defense of marriage act in 1998 banning same-sex “marriage.” But that was struck down by the two judges.

“There is only one step of recourse in Washington state, which is a state constitutional amendment,” Krafsky said.

In California, homosexual activists are trying a two-prong approach, fighting in both the court system and in the legislature. The city of San Francisco is joining with homosexual activist groups to sue the state in an attempt to overturn California’s ban on same-sex “marriage.” In the legislature, lawmakers apparently will take up a bill next year legalizing same-sex “marriage.” A similar bill passed the assembly’s judiciary committee this year by an 8-3 vote before dying.

“I see this as a modern-day civil rights issue,” Nunez, a Democrat, told The Los Angeles Times. “Sure it’s controversial … [but] I suspect it will go to the governor’s desk.”

Schwarzenegger’s comments on the issue have been less than clear. In March he said he supported current law but wouldn’t “have a problem” if same-sex “marriage” was legalized. But appearing on the Sean Hannity radio program last year, Schwarzenegger said marriage should be defined in the traditional sense.

Pro-family leaders are urging Schwarzenegger to veto the bill if it passes.

“We heard him say that marriage is only for a man and a woman when he ran for governor,” said Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families. “That was a public promise on the Sean Hannity radio program. He needs to keep his promise and should announce that homosexual marriage is dead meat if it lands on his desk.”

In 2000 California voters passed a proposition banning same-sex “marriage” by a margin of 61-39 percent. It is one of the laws homosexual activists want to see struck down in court.

“The people already voted to protect marriage for a man and a woman,” Thomasson said. “In California, the people’s vote overrides the legislature. The legislature is constitutionally prohibited from overriding the vote of the people. The people’s vote four years ago should continue to pay dividends for the protection of marriage, should a full-blown homosexual marriage bill pass and be signed into law.”

If the bill becomes law, Thomasson said, pro-family groups would file suit in court.
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For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit https://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust