California Supreme Court Wants Same-Sex Marriage
Special Report - May 16, 2008
Despite the fact that 61 percent of California voters passed “Proposition 22” in 2000 recognizing marriage in that state as only between a man and a woman, the California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the law as unconstitutional. Not only this, but the 4 to 3 decision, filed May 15, went so far as to recognize a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Robert George wrote: “Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientationlike a person’s race or genderdoes not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.”
Three justices wrote dissenting opinions in the case, including Justice Marvin R. Baxter who wrote: “I cannot join the majority’s holding that the California Constitution gives same-sex couples a right to marry. In reaching this decision, I believe, the majority violates the separation of powers, and thereby commits profound error. Only one other American state recognizes the right the majority announces today. So far, Congress, and virtually every court to consider the issue, has rejected it. Nothing in our Constitution, express or implicit, compels the majority’s startling conclusion that the age-old understanding of marriagean understanding recently confirmed by an initiative lawis no longer valid...”
The court’s decision is not the end of the battle over marriage in California. The Alliance Defense Fund and the Liberty Counsel, two pro-family legal organizations involved in the case, have indicated plans to ask the court for a “stay” in the decision until November, when Californians may have the chance to vote on a state marriage amendment. A pro-family coalition in the state has collected over one million signatures for a petition to place the “California Marriage Protection Act” on the November ballot.
North Carolina Family Policy Council president Bill Brooks responded to the ruling, “The California Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the state’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage shows why Defense of Marriage Acts, such as the one enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1995, are not enough to protect marriage from redefinition by activists courts. This decision highlights the vulnerability of these laws, and shows why a State Marriage Amendment is necessary to preserve the institution of marriage in North Carolina.”
Brooks continued, “State lawmakers in both the North Carolina House and Senate should allow a vote this year on Defense of Marriage legislation, and give North Carolinians the opportunity to join the growing number of states that have overwhelmingly approved amendments to their constitutions defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Marriage amendment legislation has already been introduced in the 2008 Short Session of the North Carolina General Assembly, which began May 13. Senators Jim Forrester (R-Gaston) and Fred Smith (R-Johnson) introduced SB 1608Defense of Marriage, which would add language to the State Constitution defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman at one time.” If the bill is approved by three-fifths of the members of the North Carolina House and Senate, the voters of the state would have the opportunity to vote on the marriage amendment during the November 4 General Election.
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