Update on same sex marriage legal battles across the nation

Georgene Rice of KPDQ-FM interviews, Maggie Gallagher, with the National Organization for Marriage in California. She discusses the Supreme Court’s recent decision to deny an appeal to the D.C. same-sex marriage decision. They discuss whether it was a procedural decision or if it goes to the merits of the question of same-sex marriage. She also outlines the other defense of marriage actions that are being considered in the courts all across the nation.

Georgene: The City Council in Washington, D.C. affirmed same-sex marriage in that district. The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court. Tell us what the Supreme Court did or didn’t do.

Maggie: The District of Columbia is not a state. It is under the direct control of Congress and Congress has given it a constitution which gives some state’s rights to the people who live in D.C. One of those rights is to overturn laws passed by the City Council through a referendum process, much as you have in the state of Oregon. The city council passed a law that said the referendum process could not be used to repeal any decision they make that has to do with the human rights code. In this case, not allowing the people the right to decide whether to repeal the city council’s decision to allow same-sex marriage.

The case was sent to the D. C. Court of Appeals. By a close 5-4 decision, they denied voters the right to vote on the marriage issue. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider the case and we are saddened by their decision because this is not a case about gay rights. It is about whether politicians can vote to take away the right of the voters to control the laws given to them in their own constitution.

Georgene: Some say the U.S. Supreme Court suggested that if this was a state they might have handled it differently but that D.C. is out of their jurisdiction.

Maggie: That isn’t the case. The U.S. Supreme Court is like the State Supreme Court is for states, so they have even more jurisdiction. They really didn’t say why they chose not to take it up. They often do not, but that would not be the reason. Maybe they felt that if the courts got it wrong, then Congress could fix, as they can.

Georgene: Congress is somewhat different now than it was when this law was passed by the city council. How likely is it for the U.S. House to take this matter up and restore the referendum rights for the people to vote on same-sex marriage issue in the District of Columbia?

Maggie: I think the House would be interested. Again, this is not Congress making a decision on same-sex marriage, it is making clear that the people of D.C. have this right to vote if they follow the procedures laid out in the charter.

Georgene: What are your thoughts about the future of the same-sex marriage law in Washington, D.C.?

Maggie: We are talking with people in Congress now and we are going to do everything we can. We have not given up this fight. On a national level, there are two other cases that are working their way to the Supreme Court. One would overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The other would overturn Proposition 8 in California, and by implication, the marriage acts in Oregon and all thirty-one states where people have voted to add this to their state constitution.

We are also fighting to pass marriage amendments in other states such as Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and to repeal same-sex marriage that was passed in New Hampshire.

Most people don’t know this, but in the last election cycle most of the states where the state legislatures passed gay marriage laws, the voters kicked out the party. In Maine and New Hampshire both houses flipped from Democrat to Republican control. You may, also, have heard about the great victory in Iowa. Two years after judges voted to impose gay marriage, the people voted by very strong margins not to retain the three judges up for election.

Georgene: Thank you. If anyone is interested in following these cases or the work of the National Organization for Marriage, what is the best way for them to do that?

Maggie: They can go to www.nationformarriage.org. They can sign up for a weekly newsletter that will keep you informed of cases and the impact of laws made in legislatures across the country. We are finding that we have people from all races and creeds who want to stand up for God’s truth about marriage.

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