Four pro-family groups filed a lawsuit at the Federal court on Monday, May 10, as a last minute effort to halt Massachusetts from issuing same-sex marriage licenses from next week.
The suit, filed by the Florida-based non-profit Liberty Counsel, argued that the court over-stepped its constitutional authority by reformulating the definition of marriage.
"When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court usurped the power of the Legislature by reformulating the definition of marriage, it violated the federal constitutional guarantee of a Republican form of government," Mat Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. "We are confident that the federal courts will act to restrain this abuse of power by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court."
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Catholic Action League Vice President Robert Largess, a Boston citizen, names as defendants the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state's department of public health and the city registrar of Boston. The suit mainly asks the court to issue a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of a November decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage beginning May 17.
"The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court usurped the power of the governor and the legislature when it impermissibly redefined marriage to include same-sex couples," Staver said. "The federal courts are obligated to step in to ensure that Massachusetts is following the basic principle of separation of powers that is vital to our very system of law and government."
In addition to Liberty Counsel, other groups involved are the Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights, the Thomas More Law Center and the American Family Association's Center for Law & Policy.
Meanwhile, another pro-family group, the Alliance Defense Fund, is has a hearing on May 12 before the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The ADF will ask the Massachusetts Superior Court judge to toss out the November ruling.
Currently, a constitutional amendment specifically banning same-sex marriage is underway, following its adoption by the state legislature in March. However, the earliest it could come into effect would be late 2006. Therefore, such lawsuits, which places a temporary yet immediate hold on the licensing, is the most effective way to prevent the unwarranted licenses.