CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Marriage Wars Continue

Nov 20, 2003

On Tuesday November 18 another scene from the culture wars was played out. The top court in the US state of Massachusetts declared that a ban on same-sex marriage was discriminatory. In a 4-3 decision the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared that banning homosexuals from marriage rights was without justification. The court did however stop short of granting marriage licenses to the homosexual couples who were demanding them.

“We declare that barring an individual from the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage, solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution,” the court wrote. The court also admitted that the ruling “marks a change in the history of our marriage law.”

Seven gay couples in Massachusetts had sued the state in 2001 over the issue. They are celebrating big time at the moment, but it may be short-lived. An appeal has already been put in motion. And Massachusetts’ governor Mitt Romney immediately denounced the decision, and said he would work for a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

In the eyes of many, this decision was another move by radical judges to implement the homosexual agenda against the wishes of the over-whelming majority of its citizens. Once again judicial activism is lining up with the homosexual activists against faith and family values. Once again millennia of accumulated wisdom and morality is being jettisoned overnight.

Vermont is the only state in the United States that allows same-sex couples the rights and benefits of marriage. Vermont calls them civil unions, rather than marriage. California’s State Assembly recently passed a domestic partnership law to provide similar benefits, but it stops short of allowing gays to marry.

At the moment 37 US states have passed Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) to prevent same-sex marriages from being legalised. A national DOMA was also passed in 1996, but mainly deals with welfare benefits.

Responses

US pro-family and pro-faith organisations were quick to reply to the ruling.

Former Presidential candidate Gary Bauer called the 4-3 decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court on Tuesday “the most intolerant act of judicial tyranny in recent memory.” The president of American Values continued, “Only in the most narrow- minded, liberal circles is support for that fundamental union of man and woman seen as offensive. It is severely intolerant to destroy marriage to accommodate gay relationships.

“It was not only an arrogant decision, it was intellectually weak. It’s worth noting that the four justices did not try to come up with a solution to its own fiction of homosexual marriage created by judicial fiat. They punted to the legislature the responsibility of creating ‘Faux marriage.’ They would overturn thousands of years of accepted religious values and common sense principles regarding the institution of marriage and what is best for children and families, and pass the buck for designing this unprecedented destruction of a premier social institution.”

Focus on the Family Chairman Dr. James Dobson shared similar concerns: “The dire ramifications of what is happening in the United States and other Western nations cannot be overstated. For millennia, traditional marriage – the union of one man and one woman – has been celebrated by every culture on Earth as the cornerstone of society. But now, we have this activist court that is arrogant enough to say that those thousands of years of culture are simply wrong.”

He continued, “The homosexual activist movement, which has achieved virtually every goal and objective it set out to accomplish more than 50 years ago, is now closer than it has ever been to administering a devastating and potentially fatal blow to the traditional family. What makes these developments so shocking is that the legal acceptance of homosexual marriage was little more than a pipe dream just a few years ago, but now it has become a tidal wave that is sweeping around the globe. That illustrates the destructive power of the judicial tyranny that has gripped our nation.”

The President of the Christian Coalition of America Roberta Combs said, “It is reprehensible for left-wing judges, such as these 4 radical Massachusetts judges, to disregard the will of the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. Traditional marriage is one of the last obstacles to the complete normalization of homosexuality in America. We urge Congress to quickly pass the Federal Marriage Amendment and send the constitutional amendment to the States for ratification. Judicial tyranny in this country has gone too far. Congress and the state legislatures need to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities and stop these runaway liberal judges.”

And Family Research Council President Tony Perkins warned, “Marriage is about more than tax credits and other financial benefits. It is about preserving the best environment for raising children and the safest, healthiest living situation for adults. Without strong marriages as our bedrock, our nation will suffer a devastating blow. We must amend the Constitution if we are to stop a tyrannical judiciary from redefining marriage to the point of extinction.”

Australian implications

The US decision will of course further embolden gay activists here in Australia. They have already taken heart from the June Ontario (Canada) High Court decision declaring heterosexual marriage to be discriminatory. They will now redouble their efforts to achieve a similar outcome here.

Articles in the Australian gay press speak of the glee and amazement amongst gay activists at how quickly and easily their agenda is being implemented. They speak of how little resistance they are meeting to their gains, even from the churches. They write of their astonishment at the rate of progress and how what they felt was impossible just a few short years ago is now becoming reality.

One can expect a high court case here soon enough. A gay couple can simply go to Ontario, for example, get married, and come back here, asking that their marriage be recognised. Parliament can easily be by-passed as our own activist judges take up their case. Such a challenge will undoubtedly come, and sooner rather than later.

All of this means that we need to redouble our efforts. This is not the time for retreat, but for strengthening our resolve. The future is in our hands, and we dare not let down our children and our grandchildren.

Action

Just as America is pushing for a federal marriage amendment to protect marriage, we need to do the same here. Some moves along these lines are already under way. The Marriage Act 1961 could be amended to ensure that marriage means only and always a union of a man and a woman, and that foreign same-sex weddings, for example, not be recognised here.

Bear in mind that the Australian Greens and Democrats have already moved to allow amendments to the Act going in their direction. Thus we need to ensure an amendment expressing our concerns be implemented to head off such moves.

And also bear in mind that in June of 2002 a news item reported that the Marriage Act could easily be reinterpreted by the courts. A top jurist gave confidential legal advice to the then Attorney-General Daryl Williams saying that the Act was so wide open that courts could easily interpret gay and lesbian unions as legally valid marriages.

Write to your local Federal Member, and ask them to support any moves to protect marriage as comprising one man and one woman for life, and to not support any moves to radically reinterpret the traditional understanding of marriage.

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