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July 8, 2010

U.S. Judge: Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

A Massachusetts-based judge ruled today that a federal ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with state's rights to define marriage, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled on two challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.

Tauro agreed, and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.

"The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid," Tauro wrote in a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Ruling in a separate case filed by Gays & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Tauro found that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.


The Family Research Council's Tom McClusky issued a statement saying the organization is confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.

"The federal DOMA does not violate equal protection principles and has not interfered with Massachusetts' freedom to determine its own definition of marriage," he said. "In part, this decision results from the deliberately weak legal defense of DOMA that was mounted on behalf of the government by the Obama administration, which has called for repeal of the law."

The Boston Globe has more on the case.

Comments

Things are getting a bit surreal. We can’t defend marriage because it will interfere with the state’s right to define it. And yet judge Tauro’s problem with DOMA is its intrinsic definition of marriage (1 man 1 woman). Are we having fun yet? DOMA of course does not interfere with the definition of marriage as it has been understood worldwide for eons – it is a legal attempt to protect that definition. If he were being honest and accurate, Tauro would have said what he really means: DOMA interferes with the efforts of some to re-define marriage.

The judge ruled that the Federal government must respect states' decisions about whether to allow same sex marriage or not. Conservatives who support states' rights should applaud this ruling.

The decision does not force any state to allow same sex-marriages or to recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in other states. It only requires the Federal government to treat couples as married if they are legally married in their state of residence.

Re Tom McClusky's comment: the Obama Administration has actually created a lot of anger among gay and lesbian voters with its vigorous legal defense of DOMA.

@Dan - your comment is sadly typical of the strange and adolescent obsession that homophobes have with the sex act. Do you want your marriage (if you have one) described as just the mechanics of the sexual relations you have with your wife? Just that? Or is your marriage based on a pledge of mutual love and support? If you've actually read the ruling and have distilled it down to the gross comment above, there's no hope for you. If you haven't read it, please do so.

@mb: "...the gross comment above..." Have you not seen the "gay" parades? Have you never seen "gay" publications? Both filthy. And you call my comment gross? You must surely be living in a cave somewhere. Homosexual behavior is a perversion which should not be given the legal protection it seeks. And the fact that a judge considers aberrant perverted behavior as deserving any constitutional protection is disturbing in and of itself. The rest of your little tantrum is not worthy of a reply. Grow up.


if our sexuality is our chief aim in life, we will be let down. The man or woman who has sex with their same gender is no different than the couple living out of wedlock, or heterosexual casual sex. Such people have been deceived to believe their lifestyle is permissible and should be celebrated. Satan knows the gold standard God has intended, and will fight it. For many, they feel there is no alternative, and don't even desire one. The elephant in the room is that many (not all) homosexual people have been abused as children, and have the unfortunate questioning of sexuality that follows such encounters.
Does having your identity as primarily a homosexual (or even as primarily as a hetero) satisfy your soul? does your identity as a sexual being overshadow your identity as a child of God? Be wary of your heart, and of your answer, for sexual intents and lusts are strongly used of Satan. God has given sex as a gift, but with strict guidelines and parameters.

Hi Dan - Nope, I'm not living in cave somewhere. I'm living in a pretty standard suburb which includes gay and lesbian families, all of whom wish to live their lives in peace and freedom. The behavior of some flamboyant gay men and women is no more representative of all gay people than seedy strip clubs, internet porn, and prostitution are representative of all straight people (like me). In rereading my comment, I see that it is more argumentative than it should have been given the positions of many here. I found your summary of the issue to be demeaning and was trying to make the point that reducing people and their relationships to specific sex acts is to miss the larger issues at hand. I do, though, still encourage you to read the opinions issued by the court today. The notion that people are entitled to the equal protection of our laws is not a radical one.

@mb: I'll take your admission as an apology - unless of course you know the thoughts and intents of my heart - which you presumed, apparently, at first to know. My original comment attacked no person in particular - just a worldview. (Not so, your's.) Traditionally, historically, biblically, and theologically, homosexual behavior has always been considered a perversion. If one finds himself/herself a homosexual by orientation, then he/she should at least remain celibate in obedience and faithfulness to God - just like many heterosexuals do who wish to please God. So-called gay christians (who are philosophically and theologically really just progressive liberal and postmodern) are aggressively trying to change what the church has always believed everywhere and at all times through misinformation, disinformation, name calling and intimidation, and legal channels. In my opinion this coup d'etat should be challenged and repudiated by the church and society. If homosexual behavior is legalized and recognized as normal then all kinds of unintended consequences ensue, such as military chaplins being required to marry gay couples - even though they are morally opposed to homosexuality, conservative christian organizations being sued for discrimination by gay employees let go for their immorality. And then other pervsions will undoubtedly sue for legal status - such as groups who practice polygamy, polyamorous marriage, beastiality, etc. If someone wants to live the "gay" lifestyle, I say let them - and leave them alone, in the same way many heterosexuals live today - just by "shacking up." Nope, I don't agree with this judge's opinion at all.

Defense of Marriage Act. To me it is ironic that no one is raising hell to protect marriage from no fault divorces. Wouldn't that do more to "protect" than railing against homosexuals. Divorce is what attacks marriages but the Church does not care to do anything about that, try strengthening current marriages. Homosexuals are not the reason that 50% of marriage end in divorce, just this last week New York state became one of the last states to legalize no fault divorces and you didn't see the Family Research Council make a case against that. Protect marriage and families by strengthening and upholding the marriages in your Church.

jh, You might want to do a little research. Evangelicals are on the forefront of protecting and strengthening marriages (Marriage Savers, Focus on the Family, and many others). And the Family Research Council HAS spoken out extensively against no-fault divorce. And yet Christians indeed share part of the blame for high divorce rates. But rather than shrugging it off, we own up to it and try to be part of the solution. As the Manhattan Declaration states, "We confess with sadness that Christians...have too often...failed to uphold the institution of marriage" and later, "we are willing, lovingly, to make whatever sacrifices are required of us for the sake of the inestimable treasure that is marriage." And yes, part of upholding marriage is defending its one-man-one-woman traditional definition. We defend that definition because it is a core teaching of the Christian faith. We believe that our Lord knows what's best for us - for all of us; and if our society upholds marriage we will all be blessed.

Jerry the point that jh is making is quite clear if you take a look at the big picture. Presently there is very little legislation being pushed/supported by Evangelicals to limit divorce or to overturn 'No fault divorce' laws in various states or at least coverage if it in the media (Including CT) is very minimal. On the other hand when states pass legislation to allow same sex marriage church leaders swarm out to rally their followers to fight against it with a vengeance.

Most Evangelical churches don't stand to loose very much if they take a stand against same sex marriage. In other words not many people will walk out their doors. On the other hand if the same type of approach is taken against most forms of divorce and remarriage then most churches would see dramatic decline in membership. Is this all in the name of money? Perhaps.

To be sure Evangelicals do have a tendency to say more about sins outside the church than those found on the inside. Not that we shouldn't say anything at all but the balance is wanting.

Jerry, thank you for your response. I'm aware the that FRC has spoken out against no fault divorces. I just feel that homosexuals are being used as scape goats in lieu of dealing with the bigger issue of divorce in the Church. When a few states passed laws making same-sex marriage legal, there was a massive nation-wide movement to pass laws against it. Where is the movement to reverse the laws for no-fault divorces. Where are the groups rallying for referendums against no fault divorce? Where are the state legislators being lobbied to pass legislation against it? I commend the Manhattan declaration for fighting for reforming "ill-advised policies that contribute to the weakening of the institution of marriage, including the discredited idea of unilateral divorce." Unfortunately I think too many in the Church do shrug off the issue of divorce and that is evidenced by the high divorce rates. My point is merely that divorce seems to be much more pressing of an issue, but it is receiving much less attention.

Some CT commenters (not just re: this article) need to stop worrying about the "culture war" scare du jour, and start wondering if they are really determined to model Christ-like behavior in a fallen world. We will not legislate Christian morals; they require a true Christian heart (grace received) and life (grace lived out). "the world" ---including this "Christian nation" ---cannot be counted on to provide ethical or moral structure for us our our youth. The family and the church need to do that. We dilute our witness for Christ when we insult each other over legitimate differences of opinion. We become part of the problem. It's sadly ironic that self-styled crusaders for truth/against sin so often become worse problems (for the cause of Christ) than the problems they target.

Bill Clinton is a lawyer and he signed DOMA. Bob Barr is a lawyer and he sponsored it. The legal arguments clearly are not as obvious to everyone as they are to Judge Tauro.

Interestingly, the Judge argues FOR states' rights in criticizing DOMA, but tends to undermine states' rights in another sense by saying Medicaid (which is a federal program funded by ALL states) MUST be used to support gay couples in states where marriage has been redefined to include homosexuals.

This is potential usage of money from states that ban gay marriage to undergird gay marriage in states that don't. What about the right--indeed, legal obligation--of citizens in states that ban gay marriage to NOT support that which their states prohibit?

Everyone has strayed from the point. It is irrelevant to the legal question at hand whether or not any religion or society throughout history has ever condoned homosexual behavior (some have) or been willing to bless same-sex marriage (not so much). The point of the ruling is the proper distribution of power among federal and state governments.

Marriage and domestic relations have been a province of state, not federal, government since the beginning of the country. There has never been a federal definition of marriage until DOMA (even during the contentious fight over miscegenation, the Feds deferred completely to the states on the subject of who is and is not married.)

For better or worse, Massachusetts has a definition of marriage that includes same-sex couples. There is no clause in the United States Constitution that grants Congress the power overrule Massachusetts law on this point, Congress has exactly zero authority to legislate on the subject of marriage. Any states' rights conservative should be thrilled by this ruling.

The "benefits" of tax law, etc. that accrue to married couples are routinely overstated. If these benefits were so great you wouldn't have so many unmarried singles CHOOSING to live together.

This whole issue is not really about that, it's about normalizing something that most people view as abnormal in order to make a small but obsessively activist subset of society feel better about themselves. If they have to throw traditions and historical Christian teaching under the bus in order to to so then no problem. After all, it's really all about THEM.

If you want to have more legal options available to gay people desiring to add solidity to their relationships then I can see that argument. But these relationships should not be defined as "marriage" any more than a cow should be defined as a horse. In that sense the politicallly correct, over-used term "marriage equality" is a ruse.

Overturn/annul (or whatever term you want to use) DOMA: first will come gay marriage and then polygamy. Why? B/c there is no logical reason why not. And after polygamy? I shudder to think.

The question: Is Marriage the Right of the Church or the Right of the State? Seems to me that marriage and how it is the defined is the right of the Church and not the State. Therefore the State shouldn't be marrying anyone.

Just because something is legal doesn't mean that it is the right choice. When choices are at hand... should the state determine what a church chooses to stand for? Since the churches today are all coming from different perspectives... the challenge is to say to yourself... who am I and what do I believe?

Let's hope the judges ruling is overruled.

"The job of the courts is to uphold the Constitution, regardless of whether the necessary decisions fall in line with the will of the majority." Do you think the founders of this country who wrote and had input into our constitution ever imagined - even in their worst nightmares - that homosexual marriage would ever be an issue? No! So, the gay view of the constitution is as perverted as their mental illness.

In responding to the recent Prop 8 ruling, all I can say is that the future for the institution of marriage is bleak. If this direction is continued unhindered, the legalization of polygamy will be the encore, ( how can a judge who favors same-sex marriage reasonably deny the legal recognition of polygamist relationships? Certainly not on the basis of precedent or tradition).
What's just as catastrophic however, is the means by which marriage is slowly eroding. Is it possible that marriage as we know it can be obiliterated by the personal values of a handful of judges? How can I say "personal values"? Aren't judges suppose to be neutral, super-human, sinless? NEWSFLASH - JUDGES ARE HUMAN BEINGS! They're subject to sinning, biasness and they possess individual values. The idea that judges can turn all this off and be neutral in their decisions is a myth. They're just able to cloud their personal values in endless pages of legal prose.

Being a good Christian is about loving your neighbor enough to tell him/her when he/she is sinning and that he/she needs to repent and ask Christ into his/her heart so that the person will spend eternity with Christ instead of in hell. It's not about that PC "I don't really like what you're doing, but don't want to offend you so I'll just keep my mouth shut" stuff liberals try to push.

This issue breeds confusion because of the jurisdictional confusion at its root. The issue is not whether gays have the right to marry, but whether the state (read: federal government or Supreme Court) has the jurisdiction to define marriage.

If it is determined that it does, it must usurp that authority from God, who is the originator of marriage. Never mind that the that church has long ago abandoned this responsibility and given it to the state, because the church does not have the authority to abandon it.

The confusion comes because marriage is not between one man and one woman, but is between God and one man and one woman. The only interest that the state has is that marriage produces citizens. Prior to the state usurpation of the authority to marry, marriage was in the jurisdiction of the church. That usurpation by the state is a violation of the separation of church and state.

If the state is allowed to define marriage it will write God out of marriage, which will be equivalent to a kind of divorce from God, or the formal breaking of God's covenant with man. And this will not be a good thing. God will frown on it.

Homosexuals are such a minority that I don't believe it is harmful to give them the right to be married. It is not going to hurt anything. The only concern that I would have if if homosexuality becomes a cultural trend in which everyone is doing it. But I highly doubt that would occur. Heterosexuals are very unlikely to go gay. However gays are extremely likely to go straight. If you give them the right to get married it really isn't going to do any damage. In fact sexual promiscuity will drop as it did in Denmark and Canada when gay marriage was legalized in both of those countries. But now it will be heading on to the supreme court. Wake me up when they decide sometime in 2012 or later in this ridiculous political climate.

The arc of human history bends toward justice as martin Luther King Jr. said.

K- If your statement (that God created marriage solely for procreation and comfort) is correct then that would make crass the many biblical references (Hosea, Ezekial, the gospels, etc.) to God's and Christ's covenental relationships with Isreal and the church, which are repeatedly referred to as a marrital covenant.

@Adam
I fully agree with your post, especially regarding the need for christians (or even other belief systems) to give some good, solid reasons (besides quoting bible verses) as to banning gay marriage. It's about time christians grow up mentally and socially in how they put forth their arguments on what's good or bad for the society. I believe they have the greatest intention in mind, but the way it's often put across is not very appealing.

However, to Adam's point about being gay is not hurting anyone, I do not fully think so. Living a homosexual lifestyle can be harmful for themselves, and potentially not sustainable for the society.

-Harmful for themselves because for men, the anus is not meant to be a sexual organ, like a female's sexual organ, so, although it might not be a huge issue, essentially it's bad for health.
-Potentially harmful for the society because if large enough people embraces this lifestyle (it's possible and it's happened before), the society will be gone within 1-2 generations, as there'll be no children born by these couples, except through IVF/adoption/surrogate parents. So what will happen next will be the issue of whether it's ethical to have mass IVF/surrogate babies. And if that were to go ahead, 20 years later, you'll have young adults with possible identity issues as they'll have maximum 1 biological parent and another 'adopted' parent...and the complexities keeps going on and on...

@Adam
I fully agree with your post, especially regarding the need for christians (or some other belief systems) to give a solid and good reason for banning gay marriage, besides quoting bible verses. I think it's about time for them to grow up mentally and socially in the way they convey their thoughts about what is acceptable or not for the society. I believe their intention is well meaning, but the method is just not appealing at all, even to me, a professing follower of Jesus.

However I do think that living a homosexual lifestyle can be harmful for the person and the community long term.

Harmful for themselves because for gay men, the anus is not built to be a sexual organ, unlike the female's sexual organ with it's protective lining and all, so although it's not a terribly huge problem, it's bad for health.

Potentially harmful to the society because if big enough of the population embraces it (especially the younger generation, and it's happened before), within 1-2 generations the society will be extinct, because they cannot reproduce, except via IVF/adoption/surrogate parent. This is going to open up a whole new ethical issue of mass IVF/surrogate babies, on whether it's fair for these new babies to not be born into their biological parents' home. If this goes ahead, then 20 years down the track we could be seeing a huge proportion of young adults with potential identity issues... and the complexities just goes on and on.

What I think would be ideal is to look through history, beyond the 20 years horizon, but through civilisations in the past to see what we can learn from them, as homosexuality is not new. The lessons from Canada and Denmark is invaluable, but I don't feel it's a long enough period to give us a good idea of how it'll impact society. What's good for 1 generation might not be good for the next...

"So throw some reasons at me, beyond homosexuality being "gross" and immoral by Christian standards, why homosexual marriages should be banned." Good point. Uncle Bubba, who lives on the Cahulawassee River in the remote Georgia wilderness, wants to marry Bessie, his favorite cow. He said the same thing to me, "Give me some reasons beyond beastiality being gross and immoral by Christian standards, why it should be banned." I guess "the Bible says so" isn't good enough anymore.