Calif. Marriage Amendment Raises Complex Legal Questions

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By Alexander J. Sheffrin, Christian Post Reporter
June 9, 2008|6:57 pm

As pro-family groups throughout California prepare and gather support for a state amendment to protect marriage, legal experts find themselves confronted with a series of complex legal questions.

“If the amendment passes, what will become of the thousands of gay couples throughout the state that were ‘married’ just months before?”

According to pro-family groups, nothing short of absolute chaos would ensue.

“The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of legal chaos,” said Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, in a statement last week after the court refused to consider staying its gay “marriage” ruling until after the results of the November ballot.

“The court has ignored the will of the people and demonstrated no concern for the legal turmoil it is likely imposing upon the entire country,” he explained.

The belief that “legal chaos” would strike throughout California is not a view isolated among only pro-family lobbyists and gay “marriage” opponents. Most legal experts have admitted to being unsure about what the marriage amendment – which would nullify and overturn the state’s high court ruling on gay “marriage” – would really mean for the state’s legal system.

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"If the November measure were to pass, we would be entering unprecedented territory," said David B. Cruz, constitutional law expert at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, according to The Washington Post.

"We have never seen a constitutional amendment like this in California that would take away rights that people had already exercised,” he added.

Legal experts say that the state’s legal system could undergo an immense burden if it were suddenly required to dissolve thousands of previously legal same-sex “marriages.” Couples with joint-insurance policies, signed contracts, or assets could become a legal nightmare for state officials to untangle, they argue.

But others say that the language of the measure doesn’t make clear whether gay couples who get “married” before the amendment is passed would have their “marriage” licenses revoked.

“It just means that people who didn't take advantage of that window can't get married until or unless that amendment was repealed down the road," explained law professor Vikram Amar of the University of California at Davis to the Washington Post.

Regardless of the legal implications of the amendment, however, pro-family groups are adamant that state residents will come out in droves this November to protect the sanctity of marriage.

“The people will decide in November,” explained. Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University’s School of Law, in a statement. “If any same-sex marriage licenses are issued before November, the passage of the constitutional amendment will make them invalid and invisible.”

Nationally, support for gay “marriage” has been mixed.

Although a Gallup Poll released last month revealed that only 40 percent of Americans “currently say marriage between same-sex couples should be legal,” a more recent, combined USA Today/Gallup poll released this week said that nearly 60 percent of Americans also “believed government should not regulate whether gays and lesbians can marry the people they choose.”

 

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