Supreme Court Rejection Highlights Need for FMA

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decline to review the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage brought no surprise to pro-family leaders but did rekindle their call for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and a woman.

On Monday, the High Court rejected to hear a challenge to the 2003 Goodridge decision brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Catholic Action League Vice-President and 11 state lawmakers. The justices had also refused to get involved in the Massachusetts case in May when the 180-day stay from the Goodridge decision expired and Massachusetts became the first state -- and still the only state – to legalize same-sex marriage.

“This decision highlights the need for an amendment to the United States Constitution protecting marriage and defining it as the union of one man and one woman,” Mathew Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement on Monday.

“Marriage will be defined by someone. I would rather have it defined by the people of the United States instead of the judiciary,” Staver continued.

Reaffirming a statement made pro-family leaders after any anti-traditional marriage court decision, Staver said, “This battle is far from over.”

“The Constitution should protect the citizens of Massachusetts from their own state Supreme Court’s usurpation of power.”

Like Staver, other pro-family leaders and experts also renewed their call for a national definition on marriage after Monday’s announcement and have turned their hopes to the people rather than the courts.

“The courts have long proven themselves to be no friend of the traditional family or traditional values,” stated James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Action. “As long as the fate of marriage and morality in America rests with the judiciary, the nation's families remain vulnerable.”

"Only an amendment to the U.S. Constitution will allow every citizen's voice to be heard,” he said. “America cannot afford a patchwork definition of marriage, with courts and local officials redefining it at will. This nation must have a clear and unified standard of its foundational institution -- the amendment process is the only foolproof method of protecting marriage for all Americans."

Since early in the year, gay-rights groups have pushed for the legalization of same-sex marriages spurring an outbreak of lawsuits against marriage laws in numerous states, particularly the Defense of Marriage Act.

Pro-family leaders pushed back with grassroots efforts championing traditional marriage as the “bedrock of society” through marriage rallies and campaigns urging Congress to pass federal marriage amendments. The uprising of Christian evangelicals and pro-traditional marriage conservatives created a momentum that eventually led the passage of constitutional marriage amendments in 13 states this year.

Many conservatives interpreted the overwhelming marriage victory as a moral mandate and the birth of a new generation of “morals voters” or “values voters.”

"It is increasingly clear that the ultimate solution to the problem of judicial tyranny will not come from other judges, but from the people themselves,” said Peter Sprigg, Senior Director of Policy Studies at Family Research Council, in a statement released. “That is why the electorates of thirteen states have amended their state constitutions in recent months to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Massachusetts voters may receive a chance to overturn the Goodridge decision. Massachusetts legislators have approved a state constitutional marriage amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. The measure must pass in the next legislature to appear before voters on the 2006 ballot.

”We urge the newly elected legislature and the people to continue and complete this process in defense of both marriage and democracy," said Sprigg.

In November 2003, the court ruled in the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case it was not “rational” to deprive children of State benefits "because of their parents' sexual orientation.”

"Marriage is about more than tax credits and other financial benefits,” said Sprigg. “It is about preserving the best environment for raising children and the safest, healthiest living situation for adults. Without strong marriages as our bedrock, our nation will suffer a devastating blow.”