FIRST-PERSON: Marriage is worth protecting

DALLAS (BP)--The New York Times recently reported on a comment once made by Tiger Woods' father in which he claimed to have advised Tiger that marriage is unnecessary. I'm not sure Tiger agrees with that statement, but we now know he's been living as if it doesn't mean much.

Considering the ease with which marriages can be dissolved, one could be forgiven for thinking that marriage is not that important anymore. But marriage is important enough in America to have forced a pitched battle over its legal definition. In state after state, citizens have voted to protect marriage and against opening it up to same-sex couples.

In a few places, courts and legislatures have upset the traditional definition of marriage. Nowhere has this bucking of the democratic process been more blatant than in California, where the people have voted, twice, on ballot initiatives stating that marriage remains the union between one man and one woman, and where that definition is being challenged in federal court. Two prominent attorneys, Ted Olson and David Boies -- who faced each other in the 2000 Supreme Court case Bush vs. Gore -- are fighting together to overturn California's Proposition 8 in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger.

When the court challenge was announced, nine homosexual advocacy groups, including Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), wrote a memo of protest, saying the time was not right for such a federal case. The consequences of losing, perhaps at the Supreme Court, could be disastrous for the homosexual activist movement. The precedent and the backlash could set back the quest for "gay marriage" and other items on the homosexual agenda indefinitely.

Boies and Olsen are arguing that homosexuals are a "suspect class," a legal term for a group that -- like racial minorities and foreign-born citizens -- qualify for special protection. The argument is: Laws that target such groups are "suspect" and must serve a compelling state interest. The counter-argument holds that there are such compelling interests: family stability, responsible behavior in natural procreative relationships, and strong bonds between children and their biological parents. That's why the judge in this case asked the parties to address such issues as whether homosexuals make suitable parents, and whether homosexuals can change to heterosexual.

Boies and Olsen need to prove that homosexuals deserve the same rights as heterosexuals because they are ... different. Since they know it will be difficult to establish this suspect classification for homosexuals, they are also employing an additional strategy. They are attempting to show that support for laws defining marriage, as it's been defined for millennia, is motivated solely by ill will towards same-sex couples. During two and a half weeks of oral arguments held in January, Boies and Olsen attempted to show that Proposition 8 was motivated by prejudice rather than by the protection of marriage for its own sake.

The lead defense counsel is Charles Cooper, former assistant attorney general under President Reagan assisted by top attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund. The judge's name is Vaughn Walker. Judge Walker is now going through thousands of pages of briefs. When, he's finished, probably in March or April, attorneys will present further arguments.

Walker's verdict, whatever it is, will be challenged. This case will likely end up at the United States Supreme Court and could form the basis to strike down laws and constitutional amendments protecting marriage in every state that has them. The defense attorneys and the judge need our prayers.


Penna Dexter is a conservative activist and frequent panelist on the "Point of View" syndicated radio program. Her weekly commentaries air on the Bott and Moody Radio Networks.

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