The Family Foundation Comments on Yesterday's Marriage Developments

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Victoria Cobb, Executive Director
Friday, July 7, 2006

Victory Alert: Marriage Upheld by New York and Georgia Courts

Yesterday in New York and Georgia, two significant victories occurred in the nationwide battle to preserve traditional marriage.

New York's Ruling
In a combination of four lawsuits, attorneys representing a total of forty-four same-sex couples argued New York's decades-old domestic relations law violates the guarantees of equal protection and due process in that state's constitution. New York's highest court upheld the law, opining that it is the role of the legislature, not the court to legalize same-sex marriage.

During oral arguments, lawyers for the plaintiffs attempted to make several points:
1) First, they argued that gender is entirely a social construct. At this laughable point, a judge demanded answers for the obvious biological distinctions.
2) Second, attorneys declared that studies show that children fare equally well when raised by a mom and dad as when raised by some other combination of persons. This proclamation prompted one judge to request a study proving this fact. Instead of responding with a scientific study, the lawyer cited a statement released by the American Pediatric Academy. This lack of discernment between a political statement and a legitimate study did not seem to please the judge.
3) Third, it was stated that the court, not the legislature should define marriage. This line of argumentation had several judges asking the plaintiffs if the power of the court is equivalent to the legislature with respect to lawmaking.

New York's final opinion issued by a 4-2 majority is particularly important because the Court specifically addresses the fact that it is "rational" that the state has a legitimate interest in protecting children and that traditional marriage is best suited to do this.

Both a webcast of the oral arguments and the final opinion of this New York case are available.

Georgia's Ruling
Yesterday's second victory occurred when the Supreme Court of Georgia upheld that state's constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions.

In this case, plaintiffs challenged the inclusion of both same-sex marriage and civil unions within the same constitutional amendment, claiming that these were two distinct objects and thus violated the state's "one object" rule. In its unanimous decision, the Court opined that the 77% of Georgia voters who put this amendment into the Constitution knew what they were doing and viewed it as one issue.

For more information, you may review the final opinion.

Impact on Virginia
The citizens of Virginia will also understand what it is they are voting for and that all the deception regarding so-called unintended consequences is just a thinly veiled attempt at avoiding the real issue - how we are going to define marriage for future generations.

While these rulings continue a trend of momentum for traditional marriage supporters, they do not alleviate the need for Virginians to keep working to pass our constitutional amendment this November. Several cases are still pending around the nation in places like Washington and New Jersey, where outcomes are expected to be grim. Without a constitutional amendment here in Virginia, a state judge may overturn our public policy protecting traditional marriage. We must be encouraged when courts do the right thing, but continue in our diligence to protect our law.

I for one really look forward to reading the New York court's majority opinion when I can find some time! It'll be interesting to compare and contrast with Goodridge.

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Moderate 5-19 said:

These recent state rulings on gay marriage only strengthen my belief that marriage is a state issue and does not require a constitutional amendment. For those of us who support marriage between one man and one woman each and every state (who has addressed this issue) has upheld that belief at the legislative or judicial level. As far as I know (and I could be wrong) no state is currently legally allowing gay marriage that is required to be recognized.

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