Supreme Court won't review Mass. court decision that legalized same-sex 'marriage'

WASHINGTON (BP)--The U.S. Supreme Court refused Nov. 29 to review the decision by the Massachusetts high court that legalized same-sex "marriage" in that state.

Without comment the high court turned down an appeal from 11 Massachusetts state legislators and Catholic Action League Vice President Robert Largess, a Boston citizen. The group had argued that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violated the U.S. Constitution when it forced the state to legalize same-sex "marriage."

The decision by the court was not a surprise -- the court had refused in May to get involved in the Massachusetts case. Legal experts say the Supreme Court often is reluctant to overturn a decision by a state high court.

But the decision does not mean that the Supreme Court won't hear a same-sex "marriage" case in the near future. The case before the court dealt with the decision by the Massachusetts court; it did not deal with the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which is being challenged by homosexual activists in seven separate cases in lower courts. DOMA gives states the option of not recognizing another state's same-sex "marriage."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that President Bush remains committed to passing a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. McClellan disagreed with a reporter's assertion that the high court was signaling it was staying out of the controversial issue.

"I don't think that they were looking at it from the federal law perspective, but looking at it from the state law perspective of the Massachusetts court," McClellan said. "So we need to separate those out. You do have the Defense of Marriage Act in place, which the president strongly supported. There is some question of whether or not that will be upheld over time. And the president believes that this is an enduring institution in our society. That's why he has fought to move forward on a constitutional process that would allow the states and the people in those states to be involved in this decision."

The pro-family legal organization Liberty Counsel represented the group seeking to overturn the Massachusetts court's decision.

“This decision highlights the need for an amendment to the United States Constitution protecting marriage and defining it as the union of one man and one woman," Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. "Marriage will be defined by someone. I would rather have it defined by the people of the United States instead of the judiciary. This battle is far from over. The Constitution should protect the citizens of Massachusetts from their own state Supreme Court’s usurpation of power.”

In the days leading up to May 17 -- the day that same-sex "marriage" became legal in the state -- the U.S. Supreme Court refused to issue an emergency stay preventing the Massachusetts high court's ruling from taking effect.

Staver had argued that the Massachusetts court’s decision infringed on the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government because the state constitution gives authority over marriage laws to the governor and the legislature, and not the judiciary.

Staver’s argument hinges on a specific interpretation of Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republic form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”

A three-judge panel for the First Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case in early June, but later that month refused to overturn the Massachusetts court decision.

“The Guarantee clause does not require a particular allocation of power within each state so long as a republican form of government is preserved,” the three-judge panel wrote. “Indeed, the forms of each state government at the time of the adoption of the Constitution varied in terms of separations of powers.”


For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage

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