NEW YORK Arguments on the long-awaited gay marriage case were finally heard by New York State's highest court on Wednesday. Seeking to overturn a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, lawyers for the 44 same-sex couples argued that the U.S. is evolving as a society and following tradition is not a good justification to continue it.
"We are evolving as a society," said Terence Kindlon, one of the lawyers representing the gay and lesbian couples, according to The Associated Press, "and just because we did something 200 years ago, or 100 years ago or 50 years ago, it's not necessarily a good justification to do it now."
Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, commented otherwise.
"Marriage is not an evolving social institution, he said Thursday. Staver represented a slew of conservative groups in filing an amicus brief on appeal after New York state court judge Doris Ling-Cohan ruled the state's marriage laws unconstitutional in February 2005 a decision that was reversed in December by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court which said the power to regulate marriage lies with the Legislature.
It's been the same since the beginning of history, he continued, and is naturally observable to be so."
And most Americans agree. A Gallup Poll released Wednesday showed that while more Americans consider homosexuality an acceptable lifestyle and believe homosexuals should have equal rights in the workplace, 51 percent of Americans still say homosexuality is morally wrong and only 39 percent believe gay marriage should be legalized.
Oral arguments before the Court of Appeals on Wednesday went on for two and a half hours with judges pulling out questions on issues of children raised by a mother and a father versus same-sex couples and the role of the courts in rewriting state laws. Many Christians and traditional marriage advocates say it is the function of the State Legislature, and not the courts, to make the laws.
"Laws preserving marriage as one man and one woman are based on strong social policy and to undermine marriage ... would hurt marriage, damage children, and would negatively impact the culture," said Staver, who highlighted a plethora of studies that say children do best when raised by a mother and a father.
"The union of two men and two women is not marriage never has been and never will be," he stated.
Next week, the Senate is scheduled to introduce the Protection of Marriage Amendment. If Congress votes in favor of the measure, a federal constitutional amendment will supersede any state laws.
The New York Court of Appeals is expected to take at least month to decide whether gays and lesbians have the right to marry same-sex partners, according to NPR. Staver thinks that clearly the state has interest in protecting marriage.
Massachusetts is the only state that has legalized gay marriage and Vermont allows same-sex couples the rights and benefits of marriage but recognizes them as civil unions.