On November 18, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled narrowly in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health that homosexual couples have a constitutional right to “marry” in the state, a decision that impacts the whole nation. As I predicted in my remarks last April, the Goodridge decision is just the beginning of the fallout from last summer’s disastrous U.S. Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which opened the door to undermining the legal status of marriage in the name of expanding rights.
The issue is not rights, but whether it is okay for activist judges to redefine marriage for the entire society. In Lawrence, the dissenting justices warned, “Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.” Notably, the Massachusetts high court cited Lawrence in its decision.
Case by case, activist courts are preempting public debate and legislating from the bench to mandate legal and civil acceptance of homosexual “marriage” that would destroy traditional marriage. If the American people are silent in the face of these rulings, the United States is in danger of joining Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands as the first societies in the history of civilization to redefine marriage—a disastrous move for families, especially for children.
In the Massachusetts ruling, the court gave the state legislature only a six-month window to take action before the state begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses to in-state and out-of-state couples. On February 11, state lawmakers are expected to vote on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But enacting a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts takes years, not months—November 2006 is the earliest that state residents could go to the polls to vote on an amendment.
Once the 180-day stay is lifted, same-sex couples will “marry” in Massachusetts and then file lawsuits in other states to force those states to recognize the “marriage.” They will argue that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which protects the special status of marriage and ensures that no state is obligated to accept another state’s nontraditional marriages, is unconstitutional under the Full Faith and Credit Clause and inconsistent with equal protection and due-process principles.
At the same time, activists will continue to file new cases like Goodridge in other states demanding court imposition of same-sex marriage. Advocates for same-sex marriage have pledged to challenge the federal DOMA-approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress (85-14 in the Senate) and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996—and similar DOMA laws enacted by 37 states.
As Congress reconvenes after its holiday recess, the question facing law-makers is whether to respond with a constitutional amendment or some other measure to affirm marriage. Passing an amendment would require a two-thirds majority, or 67 percent of members in both houses of Congress. No member of Congress wants to amend the Constitution lightly, but this could be a case of who amends it first. If we wait to act to protect the DOMA laws, then we will have de facto same-sex “marriage” as judges amend the Constitution without public input.
Already Congress is looking at options for a constitutional amendment that would prevent the courts from destroying marriage. Current language introduced in the House by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) and in the Senate by Senators Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”
Despite a barrage of anti-marriage messages from the mainstream media, a majority of Americans continues to believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. But public support for traditional marriage has weakened over the last decade.
It is clear that the Constitution is going to be amended in the next several years. The question is, by whom? Nonelected judges or the people? You decide.