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September 4, 2013 Print
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Lawsuits Test the Constitutionality of Marriage Laws

by Kim Trobee

At least 17 lawsuits have been filed against state marriage amendments, many of them just in the two months since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic ruling on marriage earlier this summer.

That ruling struck down Section 3 the federal Defense of Marriage Act, saying the federal government overstepped its bounds when it passed that portion of the act.  The justices reasoned that the decision about marriage should be left up to each state, paving the way for a flurry of lawsuits.

States facing challenges to their marriage amendments include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia.

South Carolina is the latest to be added to that list.  There, a lesbian couple is challenging the constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006.  The complaint says that it infringes on the couple’s right to due process, equal protection and violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause because it does not recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states.

One man, one woman marriage advocates are working to uphold the will of the people in these states.  In Michigan, attorneys are arguing that social science research shows that kids need both a mother and a father for the best possible outcomes.  A brief in that case reads, “Strong families are founded on the ideal of a lifelong marriage of one man and one woman.  Healthy, enduring marriages enrich the lives of the couple, their children, and the community around them.”

The U.S. Supreme Court also handed down a ruling this summer in the California Proposition 8 case.  The justices sent that case back to the district court, but even though no clarification was given, the governor and attorney general there instructed county clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Elected officials in other states have also refused to defend the will of the people and Bruce Hausknecht, legal analyst for Focus on the Family, said activists are smelling blood in the water.

“The Supreme Court’s badly reasoned decision in the federal DOMA case, coupled with the lawless example of California officials in the Prop 8 case, have encouraged gay activists and liberal state officials to continue to push an agenda of same-sex marriage on the entire country.  Now that they sense that the will of the people is only a minor impediment to achieving their goals, they are in a hurry to get back to the Supreme Court, confident that this time they can force an entire nation into submission.”

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