Judge Rules Texas DOMA Unconstitutional
Special Report - October 16, 2009
In a decision that could have national repercussions, a judge in Texas recently declared that state’s marriage protection amendment and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in a case involving the “divorce” of two homosexual men who were “married” in Massachusetts. District Judge Tena Callahan issued the controversial decision on October 1, ruling that both the state’s DOMA and Marriage Protection Amendmentwhich was approved by the overwhelming majority of Texans in 2005violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The case began with a January 2009 lawsuit that was filed by two homosexual men who got married in Massachusetts in 2006 and then returned to Dallas to live, but later wanted Texaswhich does not recognize same-sex unionsto grant them a divorce.
Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbot has filed an appeal of Judge Callahan’s decision, and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is planning to file a friend-of-court-brief in defense of Texas’ marriage law and constitutional amendment that includes the definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman. According to ADF, the case is significant in that “it is the first time a state court judge has struck down marriage laws based on the U.S. Constitution.”
“The government cannot consider issuing a ‘divorce’ for a ‘marriage’ it doesn’t recognize. Seventy-five percent of Texans in 2005 made it perfectly clear that marriage in their state is solely between one man and one woman,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel and Texas native Austin R. Nimocks. “The Texas voters understand that marriage laws promote children having both a mother and a father. This ruling runs contrary to the voice of Texans and the historic purposes behind the state’s marriage laws.”
According to ADF, five states currently allow same-sex “marriages”: Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and New Hampshire (which does not go into effect until January 2010). Although Maine enacted a law legalizing same-sex “marriage” this year, that law has not yet taken effect, pending a November 2009 referendum by voters who will decide whether or not to repeal it. So far, 30 states have adopted Marriage Protection Amendments, preserving the definition of marriage as only between a man and woman in their state constitutions. Legislation that would give North Carolinians the opportunity to vote on a Marriage Protection Amendment has been introduced in the General Assembly for six years in a row, including in 2009, but the leadership has never allowed the bills to make it onto the floor of either chamber for an up or down vote.
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.