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Same-sex 'Marriage' Issue Percolates in Several Courts

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    Friday, August 29, 2003 Same-sex marriage issue percolates in 4 state courts, 1 federal court By Michael Foust Baptist Press (Southern Baptist Convention)
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2003
      Friday, August 29, 2003
      Same-sex 'marriage' issue percolates in 4 state courts, 1 federal
      By Michael Foust
      Baptist Press (Southern Baptist Convention)

      NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--While the nation awaits a ruling by
      Massachusetts' high court on the issue of same-sex "marriage," the
      legal battle is spreading to other states.

      Arizona, Indiana and New Jersey are all involved in separate state
      court cases where homosexual couples are seeking marriage licenses.
      Additionally, activists have filed suit on the federal level asking a
      U.S. district court to overturn Nebraska's constitutional ban on same-
      sex "marriage."

      Matt Daniels, president of the pro-family organization Alliance for
      Marriage, believes it is only a matter of time before a state court
      grants marriages licenses to homosexual couples.

      "Massachusetts really represents the culmination of a decade of
      litigation," he told Baptist Press. "That's why it's such a big deal.
      It's a watershed moment. Maybe it'll be New Jersey, but it'll be a
      watershed moment."

      Any day the highest court in Massachusetts -- the Supreme Judicial
      Court -- is expected to issue its ruling on whether homosexual
      couples in the state can be granted marriage licenses. The court was
      expected to rule in July but passed a non-binding 130-day deadline.
      It heard the case in March.

      While a state supreme court has never ruled for same-sex "marriage,"
      lower state courts have.

      In the mid-1990s a Hawaii court case involving three homosexual
      couples set off a national firestorm, leading to Congress passing the
      Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which protects one state from having
      to recognize another state's same-sex "marriages."

      A Hawaii circuit court judge's ruling in 1996 for same-sex "marriage"
      was the nation's first, although it was appealed and eventually
      rendered meaningless after Hawaii voters passed a constitutional
      amendment giving the state legislature the power to limit the
      definition of marriage.

      A similar event took place in Alaska in 1998, when a state superior
      court judge threatened to strike down Alaska's ban on same-
      sex "marriage." That same year Alaskan voters passed a constitutional
      amendment banning homosexual "marriage."

      But a similar groundswell of opposition to same-sex "marriage" has
      yet to surface in Massachusetts and New Jersey -- the two states
      observers believe are most likely to broaden the definition of
      marriage. New Jersey's high court is the one that ruled the Boy
      Scouts must accept openly homosexual troop leaders -- a ruling that
      was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

      A poll in Massachusetts showed that 50 percent of its adults favored
      same-sex "marriage," while a poll in New Jersey found that 55 percent
      of its residents supported it.

      Both polls bucked nationwide trends. In fact, a recent FOX News poll
      showed that 58 percent of Americans favored amending the Constitution
      to ban same-sex "marriage."

      The Alliance for Marriage has authored such an amendment -- the
      Federal Marriage Amendment -- that has more than 75 cosponsors in the
      House of Representatives. The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious
      Liberty Commission supports it.

      "There's no question that as the American people realize the fact
      that our marriage laws are about to be struck down, that public
      opinion as we always expected is moving in our direction," Daniels

      "Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live
      as they choose, but they don't have a right to redefine marriage for
      our entire society. They are crossing a line that people are not
      willing to see them cross."

      Social conservatives also fear that the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme
      Court decision, which struck down anti-sodomy laws, will provide
      support for those arguing for homosexual "marriage."

      Benjamin Bull, chief counsel for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense
      Fund, told Baptist Press he doesn't believe Massachusetts will rule
      for same-sex "marriage" although it may grant Vermont-type civil
      unions. Bull also doubts that other courts will rule for same-
      sex "marriage."

      "There may be a rogue court somewhere someday, but there's a reason
      why it's never happened, and that reason is that you can't turn a
      racehorse into a toadstool," said Bull, whose organization filed a
      friend-of-the court brief with the state in the Arizona case, saying
      homosexuals should not be granted marriage licenses.

      Following is a brief summary of the current cases involving same-
      sex "marriage," courtesy of data from www.marriagewatch.org.


      ARIZONA -- The case involves two men who are suing the state, asking
      for marriage licenses. Their case was heard by the Arizona Court of
      Appeals Aug. 19.

      Observers on both sides of the issue say it has the least likely
      chance to succeed. In fact, three of the nation's largest homosexual-
      friendly organizations -- the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal and
      the American Civil Liberties Union -- refused to sign on.

      The case is Standhardt v. Superior Court.

      INDIANA -- The Indiana chapter of the ACLU filed suit on behalf of
      three homosexual couples seeking marriage licenses or recognition of
      their Vermont civil union licenses.

      A superior court judge dismissed the case in May, although it has
      been appealed to the state court of appeals.

      The case is Morrison v. Sadler.

      MASSACHUSETTS -- The New England-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and
      Defenders filed suit on behalf of seven homosexual couples. The
      Massachusetts Bar Association filed a friend-of-the court brief.

      The state's highest court heard oral arguments in March and is
      expected to issue a ruling any day.

      The case is Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.

      NEW JERSEY -- Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of seven same-sex
      couples. In June a superior court judge heard arguments on a motion
      to dismiss the case. Her ruling is expected in the next few weeks.

      The case is Lewis v. Harris.


      NEBRASKA -- Lambda Legal, along with the Nebraska chapter of the
      ACLU, filed suit in a U.S. district court in Nebraska asking that the
      state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex "marriage" be

      The plaintiffs say they are not seeking marriage licenses but instead
      want to strike down an amendment that bans "equal access" rights,
      such as hospital visitation rights.

      The amendment reads: "Only marriage between a man and a woman shall
      be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the
      same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar
      same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska."

      The case is Citizens for Equal Protection v. Attorney General.
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