Divided Supreme Court Sidesteps the Redefinition of Marriage

Gay activists failed today in their attempt to have same sex marriage declared legal in all fifty states. Same-sex marriage supporters had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would mandate gay marriage and therefore marriage benefits for same-sex couples. Jeff Laszloffy President/CEO of the Montana Family Foundation said, “Proponents of same-sex marriage failed in their attempt today to have same-sex marriage forced on all states.”

The Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (commonly referred to as DOMA) that prevented same-sex couples who are legally married, from having access to federal benefits that are available to heterosexual couples. In a 5-4 split vote the court decided that same-sex couples married in a state where such unions are legal may not be denied federal benefits. Laszloffy pointed out that, “The number of Justices themselves that dissented in the DOMA case mirrors the division and strong emotion surrounding this issue by the public at large.”

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the dissenting opinion and in a rare, passionate, oral-presentation of that dissent, reprimanded his opposing colleagues on the DOMA ruling. “We have no power to decide this case. And even if we did, we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation. The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.”

In striking down only the portion of the DOMA law that had been challenged in court the Justices also ruled that the federal benefits would travel with same-sex married couples even if they move to a state where same-sex marriage is illegal. However the Court did not address the validity of same-sex marriage and the states that currently do not recognize same-sex marriages as legal are not required to do so by today’s ruling. Laszloffy reminds Montanans that, “Marriage is timeless and tested. 38 states and 94% of countries recognize it as a union between men and women because kids deserve a mom and a dad.”

The Montana Family Foundation led the effort in 2004 that inspired Montana voters to pass an amendment to the Montana State Constitution that defines marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. Laszloffy said, “Today’s decision was extremely limited, based on a narrow set of procedural elements, and does not affect the Montana Marriage Amendment.”

The Supreme Court also provided a very narrow ruling on Proposition 8 which amended California’s State Constitution. Gay activists hoped the Court would strike down California’s marriage amendment on the merits of the case and set a precedent for removing all other state’s marriage amendments. But the Court instead sidestepped the marriage issue altogether and instead ruled that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to challenge the lower court’s ruling. The high court said that the Governor, the Attorney General and the District Court’s Recording Officer are the only three California officials that would have had standing to challenge this case. California’s governor instructed the other two not to do so.

So in effect, the will of seven million California voters was thrown out by default when the California Attorney General failed to challenge the lower court’s ruling. The bottom line is that despite the Supreme Court’s limited procedural findings, marriage in Montana remains defined as a union between one man and one woman and for that we are thankful.                           (End)

CONTACT:        Montana Family Foundation

Director of Policy & Development Allen Whitt #406-633-3225

President Jeff Laszloffy