EDITORIAL: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
'Same-sex marriage' push in the US, France and UK
, April 13, 2013
Over recent weeks, the issue of same-sex marriage has divided Western societies as never before, as governments push to change the law against very strong public opposition.
In the United States, the Obama administration has backed two cases before the US Supreme Court which will determine whether marriage continues to be the bedrock of American society, or whether it becomes a casualty of the push for homosexual rights.
The cases involve a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act 1996, which declared that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law, including receipt of federal tax and other benefits.
After President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage last year, the Obama administration is now seeking to have the Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional by the court, instead of moving to have it repealed or amended by Congress.
It is a sign of how far Obama has shifted to the left that he is trying to have the US Supreme Court overturn a US federal law, when his party, the Democrats, had a majority in both Houses of Congress between 2008 and 2010, but did not try to amend the law.
As the Obama administration has refused to defend the federal law before the courts, it has been left to Republicans in Congress to defend a law which was enacted during the term of Democrat President Bill Clinton.
The other case before the Supreme Court involves Proposition 8, a referendum carried in California in 2008, which amended the state constitution to provide that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California”.
The history of Proposition 8 in California is interesting. In the year 2000, voters in California had adopted a law which stated: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California.” It was adopted because the existing law would have recognised marriages contracted between same-sex couples in other states.
In 2008, the Californian Supreme Court declared this law to be contrary to the state constitution, and the Californian government immediately began issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples.
Supporters of marriage then moved a further referendum which would entrench the definition of marriage in the state constitution, effectively over-riding the state Supreme Court.
The Californian government tried to rig the result, by giving the proposition on the ballot paper the title: “Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”.
The proposition was also carried, despite a massively expensive campaign against it.
In 2010, a homosexual district court judge, Vaughn Walker, declared that Proposition 8 was invalid, saying it was contrary to the US Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses. The effect of this was to reinstate the earlier Californian Supreme Court ruling and once again permit same-sex marriage in California.
The Californian government refused to defend the constitutional amendment, so a senator in the Californian state legislature, Dennis Hollingsworth, who is also head of DefendMarriage.com, intervened to put the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Legal argument around the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 were heard by the Supreme Court late in March, and a decision in expected on both cases late in June. Although there has been widespread speculation, based on questions asked and comments on the cases made by members of the Supreme Court, it is quite unclear what the outcome will be.
However, given the deep divisions on the Supreme Court over similar issues, there will, in all likelihood, be a split decision. It is also interesting that, in both cases, left-liberal governments have failed to defend laws properly carried, and have instead sought to have the issues decided by the courts.
It is to be hoped that the court upholds the law and the rights of the people, rather than the judicial adventurism which has been used to overturn them.
Across the Atlantic, in both France and the United Kingdom, government legislation for “same-sex marriage” has aroused fierce public opposition.
The French Socialist Government of François Hollande has introduced “same-sex marriage” legislation, which is due to go before the French Senate this month.
An extraordinary 1.4 million people joined a march through Paris to demonstrate their opposition to the new law.
In London, another very large rally was held to oppose the decision of the British Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, backed by his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, and most members of the Labour opposition, to support same-sex marriage.
A broad alliance of pro-family organisations and leaders of England’s Christian churches has been formed to oppose the legislation. Whatever the outcome, the push for same-sex marriage in Europe and the US will undoubtedly reverberate around the world, and influence the course of the debate in Australia.
Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.