Conservative Congressmen Take Stand Against Federal Judge's Marriage Ruling

A group of conservative congressmen and women submitted on Tuesday a resolution stating that the federal judge's decision to strike down California's Proposition 8 is wrong.

"We really need to ask ourselves the question: are we now in the position of giving a judge the decision to decide whether or not the American people are rational when they go to the voting booth and make their wishes known," Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) posed to reporters Tuesday.

"It certainly seems the answer would be in the negative."

The House resolution was sponsored by Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and backed by Steve King (R-Iowa) and John Fleming (R-La.).

Its submission comes days after Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California declared the state's voter-approved marriage definition unconstitutional.

The resolution calls for an appeal and outlines how over half the states in the country have codified in their state constitutions the legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and that every state whose voters have considered the issue now prohibits same-sex marriage.

It also accuses Judge Walker of failing to conduct himself in an impartial manner and allowing a handful of activists to void a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage, thus eliminating "the core of the American democratic system."

The Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, lauded the resolution.

"As the resolution points out, Judge Walker is a single judge who thinks he knows better than seven million Californians and voters in more than 30 states who have approved marriage amendments," said FRC President Tony Perkins. "This is an activist decision by a district-level court judge. Judge Walker is forcing his view on not only the millions of Americans who have voted on this issue, but the history of marriage itself."

Proposition 8 was passed by 52 percent of California voters in November 2008. The California Supreme Court last year rejected lawsuits against the amendment, ruling that it was not an illegal constitutional revision by the people nor unconstitutional.

Two of the nation's top litigators – Theodore B. Olson and David Boies – filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of one gay couple and one lesbian couple, arguing that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process of the law.

Siding with the plaintiffs, Walker concluded that Proposition 8 is irrational because it singles out gays and lesbians for unequal treatment.

"Many of the purported interests identified by proponents are nothing more than a fear or unarticulated dislike of same-sex couples," Walker wrote in his opinion, released last Wednesday. "The evidence shows that, by every available metric, opposite-sex couples are not better than their same-sex counterparts; instead, as partners, parents and citizens, opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples are equal.

In continuing, Walker added, "In the absence of a rational basis, what remains of proponents' case is an inference, amply supported by evidence in the record, that Proposition 8 was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples. Whether that belief is based on moral disapproval of homosexuality, animus towards gays and lesbians or simply a belief that a relationship between a man and a woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women, this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate."

Following the release of Walker's ruling, conservatives across the nation criticized Walker's conclusion that gays and lesbians were discriminated against.

"The proposition never mentioned gays, lesbians or any other individuals, whatever their sexual orientation," argued Michael Medved, a conservative daily syndicated radio talk show host, in a commentary on AOL News. "It didn't discriminate among individuals; it drew distinctions among relationships.

"The entire proposition consisted of only 14 words: 'Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.' This simple statement imposes no restrictions and issues no commands regarding the behavior of private citizens," Medved added.

The talk show host also pointed out that the issue isn't that same-sex marriage would harm existing opposite-sex marriages, but that it would bring profound change to the institution of marriage itself.

"The argument for gay marriage depends on the discredited and destructive idea that men and women are interchangeable – that your marriage will be the same whether you select a male or female partner."

Rep. King of Iowa was also among those who rejected the judge's arguments.

"This judge, Judge Walker, claims that he has arrived at a rational basis and I think it's a completely irrational basis," King said Tuesday.

"When a judge takes the law into his hands and seeks to establish a social policy that is his preference without respect for the Constitution, without respect for the Rule of Law, then that decision needs to be rejected," he added. "And frankly, I think this resolution is a good step in the right direction but we need to do more to rein in these courts."

Adding her voice of opposition at the media briefing Tuesday, Bachmann commented, "Frankly, I believe that progressive activist judges who issue their personal moral pronouncements under the guise of constitutional law are instead demonstrating themselves irrational rulings."

Attorneys representing ProtectMarriage.com, the official proponents of Proposition 8, are in the process of appealing the judge's decision. They argue that the outcome of this case will impact the entire country.

"What's at stake here is bigger than California," said Andrew Pugno, General Counsel of ProtectMarriage, in a statement. "Americans in numerous states have affirmed – and should be allowed to continue to affirm – a natural and historic public policy position like this.

"We are prepared to fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary," he concluded.