In the past week, the American family has once again come under attack. The threat is a familiar one; activist judges who have a distinct animosity to faith and tradition, and who want to restructure our society in their own intellectual image. Last Thursday, right here in Boston, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Then, just yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court in California dismissed the appeal of a decision overturning the will of seven million Californians to keep marriage between one man and one woman. Both cases have been widely viewed as headed for the Supreme Court, and both took a major step closer to that ultimate destination in the past several days.
On May 31st, federal judges in Boston issued an opinion that twisted some legal precedents and ignored others in their effort to promote the normalization of homosexual behavior. Feeling constrained by legal precedent, the court decided to create a new legal standard of review, called by attorney Dale Schowengerdt of the Alliance Defense Fund, “rational basis on steroids,” in order to find that DOMA discriminated against same-sex marriage in the application of federal benefits. The court went on to say, incorrectly, that Congress has never defined marriage or bound the states to a particular definition of marriage. That erroneous claim inexplicably ignores the fact that Congress required Utah to prohibit polygamy as a condition of statehood, and this law was later upheld by the Supreme Court in Murphy v. Ramsey.
However, there is some good news to come out of this decision. MFI is happy to report that our efforts in filing a ‘friend of the court’ brief helped to restrain the scope of the court’s decision. Citing the case law that MFI argued in its brief, the First Circuit said “it does limit the arguments to ones that do not presume or rest on a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.” Even this court recognized that there is no requirement under our federal constitution to recognize same-sex marriages. The court also refused to recognize the pro-homosexual lobby’s tired and offensive accusations that opposition to same-sex marriage is merely a result of animus, ignorance or bigotry. “…[W]e do not rely upon the charge that DOMA’s hidden but dominant purpose was hostility to homosexuality…“ This means the next time you face the epithet of ‘hate’ for believing marriage should be between one man and one woman, you can cite the same justification espoused by the crafters of DOMA and acknowledged by this court, “to preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization.” Unfortunately, although the First Circuit admitted that “[t]raditions are the glue that holds society together” and that the “desire to retain them is strong and can be honestly held,” they went on to rule that homosexual relationships were a “minority group interest” and therefore warranted special protection by the courts.
Both of these decisions, one from San Francisco and the other from our city of Boston, are likely headed to the Supreme Court in the next several months. Pro-family advocates have ninety days in each case to decide whether to petition the nation’s highest court to hear these cases. We believe that they will, and we ask you to continue to pray with us that the Supreme Court will restore order, and honor, to the law of marriage. MFI will be monitoring these developments closely and will keep you informed of the latest.
Most Americans have some idea that the US Constitution guarantees a right to religious liberty. As I’ve practiced constitutional law, however, I’ve often been approached by individuals, churches, and religious organizations with basic questions about this concept. How exactly does “religious liberty” work and what does it entail? As you