By Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Nevada is willing to gamble on a lot of things, but marriage isn’t one of them. In federal court yesterday, Judge Robert Jones dealt a big setback to state activists hoping to redefine marriage. His opinion, which he issued just days after oral arguments, may be one of the most compelling yet on the question of “equality” for homosexual couples. The lead plaintiffs in the case are two lesbians, both grandmothers, who argued that Nevada’s 10-year-old marriage amendment is discriminatory. Judge Jones emphatically disagreed in a 41-page masterpiece that thoroughly dismantled the Left’s legal logic. Homosexuals aren’t being denied the right to marry, Jones explained. They simply have to abide by the same criteria as everyone else.
“Like heterosexual persons, they may not marry members of the same sex.” In fact, Jones wrote, “A homosexual man may marry anyone a heterosexual man may marry, and a homosexual woman may marry anyone a heterosexual woman may marry.” In other words, this isn’t about discrimination or equal protection. “Homosexuals have not historically been denied the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, or the right to own property,” he pointed out. “The protection of the traditional institution of marriage, which is a conceivable basis for the distinction in this case, is a legitimate state interest,” he said, adding that if the state recognized same-sex couples’ marriages, heterosexuals might “cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently… because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined.”
Then, in perhaps the most pivotal part Jones’s opinion, he highlighted the recent success homosexuals had at the ballot box. “It simply cannot be seriously maintained, in light of these and other recent democratic victories, that homosexuals do not have the ability to protect themselves from discrimination through democratic processes such that extraordinary protection from majoritarian processes is appropriate.”
In other words, our Election Day losses might actually be the key to future victories in court. Now that three states have actually voted for same-sex “marriage,” liberals can no longer claim the court as their only avenue to “equal protection.” Even lesbian activists like Nan Hunter, a Georgetown professor, admit that judges might be less likely to intervene on marriage if homosexuals no longer seem “powerless” to advance their agenda. It could even, Hunter argues, change the way the Supreme Court sees the issue–if, as it’s expected, the justices agree to hear at least one of the marriage cases in their hopper.
The high court planned to meet today to decide which marriage case it would take. Thanks to the growing number of lawsuits, the justices have their pick of cases–from challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or federal benefits laws to California’s Proposition 8. Given the high profile of any marriage case, the court would likely hear a suit in March and rule in June. That ought to give the bench plenty of time to absorb Judge Jones’s decision!
In St. Louis, Arch Rivals Square off
These days, it’s unusual to have one good news story from the courts–let alone two! But conservatives seem to be swimming in successes this Friday, as yet another judge blocked ObamaCare’s abortion drug and contraception mandate from taking effect. Missouri’s Frank O’Brien, the trailblazer for these lawsuits, was the first businessman to sue the administration back in March. He joined a crowd of plaintiffs from religious to academic fields who all share the same complaint: the president’s war on conscience rights is a direct attack on their First Amendment freedoms.
Wednesday, a federal appeals court agreed. A panel of 8th Circuit Court became the first judges from the appellate level to deliver a victory to challengers. Although the injunction is a temporary one, it is significant because the order reverses a victory that Health and Human Services had in the lower court.
“Once again,” Ed Morrissey points out, “this case doesn’t involve an explicitly religious organization. Cases involving religious schools, health care organizations, or charities have yet to come to court. So far, HHS and the Obama administration keep losing on what should be their best ground.” Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who was proud to witness a victory for his home crowd, applauded the decision as “another important victory as we fight to preserve the fundamental religious freedom that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.” And that freedom, regardless of what the President says, isn’t exclusive to individuals. It applies to organizations and businesses too.
Come Back for Moore!
How many of you knew that November is National Adoption Month? Next week, FRC is doing its part to carry that theme through December with a special lecture called “Adopted for Life: Orphan Care and the Christian Mission.” As believers, we have a special stake in the issue. Jesus is the one who reminds us that His Father is also “Father of the fatherless” (Ps. 68:5). He is also the one who insists on calling “the least of these” his “brothers” (Matt. 25:40), and who tells us that the first time we hear his voice, He will be asking us if we did the same. In this lecture, Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will consider what it would mean if Christians were known, once again, as the people who take in orphans? Don’t miss this important lecture at noon on Tuesday, December 4. For more information or to register to view it online or attend in person, click over to FRC’s events page.
** Washington’s problem isn’t taxing too little–it’s spending too much! Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) will explain why when he joins us on this week’s show. Later, Dr. Arthur Goldberg will drop by to talk about an unprecedented suit from the Southern Poverty Law Center that aims to destroy the ex-gay movement. For more information or to find a radio station near you, visit FRCRadio.org.
*** FRC’s Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison offer their take on this week’s U.N. vote in a new column, “Getting It Wrong about the Palestinians.” Check it out on CNSNews.com here.