Thirteen state attorney generals have filed a joint amicus brief to a federal appeals court in California expressing opposition to same-sex marriage.
In their 39-page brief, the legal advisers argued that states, not federal courts, should decide whether to recognize gay marriage. They point out that 45 states restrict the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman and a federal court overruling this exceeds its judicial authority under the U.S. Constitution.
"[T]he Supreme Court has never countenanced the use of federal judicial power to recast the basic parameters of marriage," stated the brief filed to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. "That structure is designed to allow individual states to experiment with novel social or economic arrangements, without the attendant disruption of forcing the entire nation to do so.
"If public affirmation of anyone and everyone's personal love and commitment is the single purpose of marriage, a limitless number of rights claims could be set up that evacuate the term marriage of any meaning," it added.
Last month, federal judge Vaughn Walker struck down the voter-approved ballot measure that defined marriage in the state of California as the union of one man and one woman. Walker, in his ruling, said Proposition 8 puts an unconstitutional burden on the fundamental right to marry and "creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation."
He said "moral disapproval" alone cannot justify banning gay marriage.
The ruling was quickly appealed.
Opponents of same-sex marriage fear that if a federal judge can overrule the opinion of California residents then the same thing can happen in other states.
"What's at stake in this case is bigger than California and bigger even than marriage," commented ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum in a statement Monday. "These briefs demonstrate the wide-ranging concerns about marriage, voter rights, judicial activism, religious liberty, and other issues and how they will be affected nationwide if this lawsuit is allowed to prevail.
"A diverse number of Americans understand that this lawsuit seeks to impose – through a San Francisco court – an agenda that America has repeatedly rejected," he added.
In addition to the brief from the 13 attorney generals, the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals received another 24 friend-of-the-court briefs on Friday opposing same-sex marriage. The groups represented in these briefs include the American Civil Rights Union, Catholics for the Common Good, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Family Research Council, and family policy councils from 29 states.
The 13 states represented in the attorney generals' brief, meanwhile, include Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
Oral arguments for the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger are scheduled to begin the first week of December.