MARRIAGE DIGEST: Ind. court upholds 'gay marriage' ban; Kan. amendment delayed; Iowa court hears lesbian 'divorce' case
INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Indiana's Court of Appeals unanimously upheld that state's ban on same-sex "marriage" Jan. 20, ruling that the state has a legitimate interest in restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
It was the third legal victory nationwide in two days for pro-family groups, who celebrated two wins Jan. 19 -- the Louisiana Supreme Court reinstated that state's constitutional marriage amendment and a federal judge upheld the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The case in Indiana was brought by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three homosexual couples who argued that Indiana's law banning same-sex "marriage" violates the state Constitution.
But the court, in a 3-0 ruling, disagreed.
"[T]he Indiana Constitution does not require the governmental recognition of same-sex marriage, although the legislature is certainly free to grant such recognition or create a parallel institution under that document," Judge Michael P. Barnes wrote for the court.
The decision, which can be appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, was not a surprise. Although nine states -- including Indiana -- are defending their marriage laws in court, homosexual activists believe they will fare better in more liberal states, such as Washington state, New Jersey or California. All three of those states are involved in "gay marriage" lawsuits.
The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the state's arguments that the law helps promote procreation and child-rearing by the mother and father. The court asserted that same-sex couples who have children through adoption or in vitro fertilization already have made financial plans for caring for the child.
"[O]pposite-sex intercourse frequently results in unintended children while same-sex intercourse never will," the court wrote. "Extending the benefits of civil marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers this goal; extending them to same-sex couples would not.
"... [O]pposite-sex marriage furthers the legitimate state interest in encouraging opposite-sex couples to procreate responsibly and have and raise children within a stable environment."
The pro-family legal group Alliance Defense Fund defended the state law and wrote a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council.
"Today was the third strike in a row for same-sex 'marriage' advocates trying to force their will upon the rest of America through the courts," Glen Lavy, senior vice president of the Alliance Defense Fund's Marriage Litigation Center, said in a statement. "These setbacks will make it more difficult for them in future cases."
Kenneth Falk, legal director for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, told The Indianapolis Star that his clients had not made a decision about an appeal.
The Indiana state legislature is considering adding an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex "marriage." It would require the approval of voters.
The case is Morrison v. Sadler.
AMENDMENT DELAYED IN KAN. -- A constitutional marriage amendment in Kansas was sent to a House of Representatives committee Jan. 18, possibly jeopardizing efforts to place it on the ballot in April. House Speaker Doug Mays previously had said he expected the amendment to receive a floor vote the week of Jan. 17.
The amendment, which passed the Senate 28-17, must be approved by two-thirds of House members by Feb. 11 if it is to appear on the ballot in April. But some House members want to see the amendment placed on the ballot in 2006. Pro-family leaders assert that an April vote would keep the amendment from being politicized. The 2006 election will include races for governor and the U.S. House.
Mays promised a quick floor vote after it makes it out of the committee.
"Once it comes out of committee it will run immediately," he said, according to the Associated Press.
IOWA COURT HEARS 'DIVORCE' CASE -- The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments Jan. 14 in the case of a lesbian couple who were granted a "divorce" in the state -- despite the fact that Iowa does not recognize same-sex "marriage."
In November 2003 Iowa state Judge Jeffrey Neary granted a lesbian couple a "divorce," not realizing that they were involved in a Vermont civil union, and not a marriage. But upon learning of his mistake, he allowed the ruling to stand as-is.
A group of lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Steve King, a Republican, sued to have the "divorce" tossed out. The Alliance Defense Fund represented the lawmakers.
"The district court clearly exceeded its jurisdiction in dissolving a Vermont civil union that Iowa does not even recognize," ADF senior legal counsel Kevin Theriot said in a statement. "We are asking the justices to set aside the lower court's ruling.
"The people of Iowa have spoken loudly and clearly by enacting a law specifically preserving marriage for couples comprised of one man and one woman. Recognizing relationships that do not meet that definition of marriage, even for purposes of termination, has a detrimental effect on the importance of marriage to the people of Iowa."
The justices questioned whether the lawmakers have legal standing in the case, the Des Moines Register reported. The newspaper said a ruling is expected this spring.
Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union are among the groups defending the lesbian couple.
Vermont law requires at least one member of the couple to live in Vermont for one year before a civil union is dissolved. Because of that, an unknown number of out-of-state couples have split up without dissolving their civil union.
GA. AMENDMENT GETS HEARING -- The constitutionality of a marriage amendment in Georgia was argued before a state judge Jan. 14. Amendment opponents argued that it violates the Georgia constitution because it deals with more than one subject. It bans both same-sex "marriage" and civil unions.
Georgia state attorney Stefan Ritter asserted that the two issues are part of one subject.
"Are these things related or not related? It's as simple as that. They are related," he told Superior Court Judge Constance Russell, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Georgia law provides a brief window of opportunity to challenge constitutional amendments before they go into effect. Similar lawsuits are pending against amendments in Kentucky and Oklahoma.
On Jan. 19, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that state's marriage amendment was constitutional. It is similar to Georgia's.
Georgia's amendment passed with 76 percent of the vote.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex "marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage