Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gay marriages halted during Prop. 8 appeals process

This just in from the AP:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Gay couples who had been gearing up to get married in California this week had to put their wedding plans on hold once again after a federal appeals court said it first wanted to consider the constitutionality of the state's same-sex marriage ban.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals imposed an emergency stay Monday on a trial court judge's ruling overturning the ban, known as Proposition 8. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker had ordered state officials to stop enforcing the measure starting Wednesday, clearing the way for county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"It's saddening just to know that we still have to keep waiting for this basic human right," Marcia Davalos, of Los Angeles, a health care advocate who had planned to marry her partner, Laurette Healey, said when the stay was issued Monday. "We were getting excited and then all of a sudden it's like, 'Ugh.' It's a roller-coaster."

Lawyers for the two gay couples who challenged the ban said Monday they would not appeal the panel's decision on the stay to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said they were satisfied the appeals court had agreed to fast-track its consideration of the Proposition 8 case by scheduling oral arguments for the week of Dec. 6.

"Today's order from the 9th Circuit for an expedited hearing schedule ensures that we will triumph over Prop. 8 as quickly as possible," said Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, a group funding the effort to get the voter-approved gay marriage ban permanently overturned. "Our attorneys are ready to take this case all the way through the appeals court and to the United States Supreme Court."

Attorneys for backers of the voter-approved measure applauded the decision. In seeking the emergency stay, they had argued that sanctioning same-sex unions while the case was on appeal would create legal chaos if the ban is eventually upheld.

"Invalidating the people's vote based on just one judge's opinion would not have been appropriate, and would have shaken the people's confidence in our elections and the right to vote itself," said Andy Pugno, general counsel for the coalition of religious and conservative groups that sponsored Proposition 8.

Under the timetable laid out Monday, it was doubtful a decision would come down from the 9th Circuit before next year.
To read more, click here for the full article.

I'm pleased by this turn of events, simply because it would be a legal nightmare if, in the end, Prop. 8 is upheld - yet there are a huge number of people who wouldn't have been able to marry under Prop. 8. Even some of my anti-Prop. 8 / pro-gay marriage friends agree with this. What a relief! Now we get another round of wait-and-see...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

One more thought

A fellow marriage blogger directed me to this recent talk from Russell M. Nelson, an LDS leader. Regardless of your personal faith, his argument makes a lot of sense - it was too good to not share:

Even the definition of marriage is now a topic of heated debate. That is only the tip of a larger iceberg. Below this tip is the weightier matter of free exercise of religion. Contention is raging over two main issues: (1) Can marriage survive as the bedrock of our cultural heritage? and (2) Can our precious freedom of religion be preserved?...

If civil law were altered to recognize so-called "same-gender" marriage, you as believers in God, and keepers of His commandments, would then be regarded as exceptions to the rule. Your conscientious convictions would then be regarded as discriminatory. If you were a Christian school teacher, you could be charged with bigotry for upholding the Lord's law of chastity. In truth dear brothers and sisters, if you lose marriage, you also lose freedom of religion. Atheistic moral bedlam and religious repression go hand in hand. At stake is our ability to transmit to the next generation the life-giving and inseparable culture of marriage and the free exercise of religion.

Judge Walker Rules Prop. 8 Unconstitutional

Hey, all -

Sorry to be so quick, but I am slammed at work today - couldn't not come share the news, though! Judge Walker did rule Prop. 8 unconstitutional. The AP reports:

A federal judge overturned California's same-sex marriage ban Wednesday in a landmark case that could eventually land before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if gays have a constitutional right to marry in America.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker made his ruling in a lawsuit filed by two gay couples who claimed the voter-approved ban violated their civil rights.

Supporters argued the ban was necessary to safeguard the traditional understanding of marriage and to encourage responsible childbearing.

California voters passed the ban as Proposition 8 in November 2008, five months after the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," the judge wrote in a 136-page ruling that laid out in precise detail why the ban does not pass constitutional muster.

Both sides previously said an appeal was certain if Walker did not rule in their favor. The case would go first to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, then the Supreme Court if the high court justices agree to review it.

So, a battle lost, but the war will keep waging. And I hate to paint it in such vicious and angry terms. I don't know that war imagery is right here. It's such a controversial, close-to-the-heart issue for everyone involved.

Honestly, there is a part of me that would be happy to see my gay friends marry happily. It's not a cut-and-dry, win-or-lose, love-or-hate issue. I wish people on both sides of the issue could see that! Even if we'd won today's ruling, I'd feel just sick for my gay friends. So many emotions, so many deeply held beliefs and completely differing views are involved with this. I've seen people argue that it's simply about right and wrong. Well, who's "right" are we advocating? Where it's "right" to treat this case akin to civil rights (a concept with which I disagree wholeheartedly)? Or where it's "right" to stand up for the ideal nuclear family unit? Who is to define right and wrong?

My deeply held belief is that marriage is between a man and a woman, ordained by God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" in 1995, wherein it put a stake in the ground regarding its stance on what a family is meant to be. This proclamation is the basis for my views, and for what it's worth, I'd like to share it with you all. Come what may, I believe strongly in the family as the pillar of our society, and I hope to strengthen it always, regardless of what courts may decide.
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. "Children are an heritage of the Lord" (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Prop. 8 Verdict Expected Today

Just a heads-up - Judge Walker is expected to deliver a verdict on the Prop. 8 case this afternoon between 1-3 p.m. PDT. Check out the Wall Street Journal piece here.

Meanwhile... whatever happens, it's still not over, since the case is sure to be appealed. Update coming later...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rational Conservatism: My New Project

Hey, marriage fans! Just wanted to apprise you all that I'm expanding my blogging horizons from traditional marriage into overall conservative politics and current events as a member of Rational Conservatism, my friend Jeff's politics-focused team blog.

Per the mission statement:

I’ve long advocated a type of conservatism that I’ve not found to be nearly prevalent enough in society. I believe that Humans are both rational and emotional beings. I find no contradiction in this either. Indeed, it is the blending of the two that gives humanity its depth and its capacity for sustainable growth. By growth, I mean economically, personally, societally, spiritually and in other ways that are not coming to mind.

Pure reason is insufficient, and so is pure emotion. To be ruled by either is folly.

Rational Conservatism is to allow oneself to be informed by both, and to do so uncapriciously. The dispassionate consideration of values, reason, emotion and the impact of each before coming to a conclusion is the essence of Rational Conservatism.

This is not intended to become a dry collection of academic writings that no one wants to read. Instead it should serve as a window into not only the conservative mind, but the conservative soul. (Yes, conservatives have souls)

So, if you're interested, please add us to your Google Reader and join in the fun!

Also, we're still recruiting writers, so if this looks up your alley, let me know, and we can look into adding you to the team!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Federal gay marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

This just in from the AP:

Federal gay marriage ban is ruled unconstitutional
BOSTON (AP) - The federal law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Boston.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, a 1996 law that the Obama administration has argued for repealing. The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal.

The state had argued the law denied benefits such as Medicaid to gay married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.


The Justice Department had argued the federal government had the right to set eligibility requirements for federal benefits—including requiring that those benefits go only to couples in marriages between a man and a woman.

Opponents of gay marriage said they were certain the rulings would be overturned on appeal.


The law was enacted by Congress in 1996 when it appeared Hawaii would soon legalize same-sex marriage and opponents worried that other states would be forced to recognize such marriages. The lawsuit challenges only the portion of the law that prevents the federal government from affording pension and other benefits to same-sex couples.

Since then, five states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage.

Boston College professor Kent Greenfield, a constitutional law expert, said the rulings could have a legal impact outside Massachusetts if they're appealed and a higher court with a broader jurisdiction agrees.

An appeal would be considered by the First Circuit, which also includes Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire.

"One things that's going to be really interesting to watch is whether the Obama administration appeals or not," he said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the department is reviewing the decision.

Greenfield added the rulings might encourage other attorneys generals who oppose DOMA to sue to try to knock it down.

As you can see, I trimmed the article for length's sake - to read the entire thing, click here.

Honestly, I'm not sure what the implications will be. That's something I need to research, and I'm moving this weekend, so time and Internet connection will both be short. If you have any insight, I'm all ears.

As the article states, "The lawsuit challenges only the portion of the law that prevents the federal government from affording pension and other benefits to same-sex couples." For now, I think that's only in Massachusetts. However, this isn't a finished story. There will be a ripple effect.

One the one hand, I'm thrilled to see the courts honoring states' rights. I think that's vital to our republic functioning the way its Founders intended, with each state exercising the freedom to make rules that work for its residents.

On the other hand, this is a blow to the cause of marriage between a man and a woman. Or is it? Honestly, on the face of it, I support equal rights for couples, gay or straight. However, how do you validate that a couple is enough of a couple to access those benefits intended for a spouse? Plenty of straight couples opt to "shack up" without wedding these days - do they have to file paperwork to prove that they're somehow serious enough to merit those benefits? Something equal to a civil union? Wouldn't that defeat the point?

Again, I'm not clear on all the ramifications of this, and I'm all ears for your insight. Meanwhile, keep watching for more news to come down the pipe regarding this ruling.

As for Prop. 8, there's been no ruling since closing arguments were made last month. According to ProtectMarriage.com, Judge Walker submitted several questions to attorneys on both sides; the pro-Prop. 8 side's answers can be found here. And, of course, we know that no matter what Walker rules, the case will likely be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court, and from there, it'll head to the Supreme Court. Neither side is going to settle for whatever ruling is handed down.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today's the Day!

Long time, huh, folks?

Well, I apologize for not being more on top of the unfolding of the Prop. 8 case. Meanwhile, today is the day - closing arguments have been made, and I'm eagerly awaiting the verdict. You, too, can follow along with the live-blogging at Prop8Case.com.

As of now, Judge Walker declared marriage as "a deeply rooted fundamental right. And a right that extends to all persons, whether they are capable of producing children, whether they are incarcerated, whether they are behind in their child support. There really is no limitation except a gender limitation."

Hmmm... that's not looking good. In the final exchange between Walker and Prop. 8 defending lawyer Charles Cooper, Walker intimated that sexual orientation is a suspect classification - also not good.

I've only been catching snippets of coverage during the work day - hopefully there'll be more to report shortly. It's so ridiculous, with the anti-8 side giving only emotional arguments, totally lacking in anything based on law. A judge's role is to rule on law, not to declare it or to decide based on his or her opinions. Too bad not many people get that!!!

In the meantime, please keep Cooper and the Prop. 8 team in your prayers!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quick, feisty thoughts

Bear with me, but there are about a million thoughts running through my mind re: the latest with the Prop. 8 trial, the current attack on religious freedom, and the vitality of the traditional family - but, alas, the last couple weeks have been crazy busy. I'll try to expound on these over the weekend, but for now, here's a rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness take on what's been in my heart and mind lately re: the marriage fight:

First off, do people not see the massive ramifications that would come with stripping the LDS Church and other religions of their tax-exempt status because they supported Prop. 8? Let's remember that, for one thing, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not donate money. Individual LDS people did - people who are citizens of this amazing country and who have every right to support their beliefs with their wallets and their vote. Punishing an organization for (strongly) urging its members to be politically active in support of their beliefs is downright unAmerican (and, also, let's acknowledge the double standard - it's fine for Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the like to preach politics from the pulpit, so long as it fits the Leftist/Progressive agenda?). Holy crepe, if we move that way, it'll never stop!!! Do we really want to live in a society that promotes thought control by punishing dissenting voices? Where do you draw the line? It is a MASSIVE Pandora's box.

(In my opinion, too many of the issues with which we battle and struggle as a nation today started out as programs by "well-meaning" Progressives that spun out of control in the effect of a Pandora's box - government-funded aid for the poor, banking regulations, etc. If only we could go back to how the country ran 100 years ago... but that's a rant for another day...)

We HAVE to stand up for religious rights. We simply have to. Religion does not breed discrimination and hatred, despite what many a headline proclaimed this morning. Religion provides a tether to a moral foundation that's vital for our country to function. Remember what John Adams said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” It's the truth. And as we strip religion from the heart and soul of America, we will feel the effect of that vacuum. I don't want to see that happen.

And don't even get me started on the whole separation of church and state issue. Just reread what I penned about it in November 2008. (No, really, reread it. Totally merits it. Of course, I'm biased... but whatever.)

Okay, changing gears... The family is how we, as human beings, first come to figure out the world and our place therein. I've spent a lot of time pondering how crucial this is in the last week or two, and there's a lot I'd like to share - again, hopefully that'll come this weekend. But, for now, let it suffice to say that gender roles are a critical component of that learning. Our fathers shape our definitions of manhood from our earliest moments; our mothers do the same for our understanding of womenhood. Ideally, every baby would be born into a home where both parents take their God-given parental role seriously and provide love and security for that new life. Sadly, that scenario is becoming increasingly rare... but just because it's more the exception than the rule these days doesn't mean that we should lower our expectations and move away from that ideal. Let it be something for which we reach - not something we mock or tear down because it makes us feel better about our own failings.

Which could put me on another tangent about how our society is seriously lacking in work ethic and the understanding of how wonderful and soul-stretching hard work is... but, again, that's a thought for another day.

In closing, if you want some great day-by-day Prop. 8 coverage, check out what the great thinkers at The Opine Editorials are blogging. Great job, friends. Keep fighting the good fight, all, and please, please, please, pray that Prop. 8 will stick. I really think this issue will divide our country in ways we haven't yet seen... but I know that God's hand is still in this great nation of ours, so long as there are good men and women willing to stand up for truth and righteousness. I'm honored to have you standing beside me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sup Ct Rules Against Prop. 8 Trial Broadcast

Good news, Prop. 8 proponents! The Supreme Court ruled today that the Prop. 8 trial will not be broadcast. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon ruled 5-4 that San Francisco federal judge Vaughn Walker, currently presiding over the Prop. 8 trial concerning same-sex marriage, erred in ruling that a video feed of the trial could be broadcast in a handful of other federal courts. In other words, the trial will not be televised. Click here for the per curiam decision.

The 5-4 vote was straight down those oh-so-familiar lines. The “conservatives,” Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, signed onto the opinion. Justice Breyer wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor.

The signers to the per curiam decision ruled that Judge Walker failed to follow proper procedures in amending a local rule stating that proceedings should not be broadcast beyond “the courtroom or its environs.” ...

The dissenters saw it differently, however, finding that “Certainly the parties themselves had more than adequate notice and opportunity to comment before the Rule was changed.”
For more details, check out the WSJ coverage on their law blog. Sorry this is a quickie, but it's been quite the long day. More analysis/commentary on the week's proceedings to come over the weekend. Until then, keep fighting the good fight (and praying for the upholding of Prop. 8), my friends!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Day One Recap

Yesterday marked the first day of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the lawsuit in which a lesbian couple is suing the state of California over their inability to marry after Prop. 8's passage.

The case is anticipated to be the watershed decision that will more or less set the precedent for gay marriage - it will likely hit the Supreme Court eventually, meaning its decision will have nationwide ramifications. If you want background on it, hop over to protectmarriage.com - they've got a bunch of valuable information, and they'll be updating their site more frequently and in depth than I'll be able to here (I'll do what I can, though). You can also follow them on Twitter at @protectmarriage.

Yesterday began with a victory for the Yes on 8 side: the United States Supreme Court stayed the order of Judge Vaughn Walker that would have allowed for streaming video of the courtroom proceedings. The stay is in effect until tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4 p.m. Eastern / 1 p.m. Pacific, at which time a decision on whether or not to broadcast the trial via YouTube is expected.

Although I'm all for transparency, after seeing the retaliation that hit so many Yes on 8 supporters during and after the campaign, I think televising the proceedings is a horrible idea. Justice won't be blind; people won't be able to be completely honest for fear of what will follow their truthful testimony. I understand how the No on 8 side wants their emotional appeal to pull weight... but, again, justice is supposed to be blind. After all, didn't Aristotle say "The law is reason, free from passion"? The court's role is not to made emotionally based decisions. They are to look at a scenario and decide how it fits into the laws of the land, whether or not it is permissible according to the framework of the Constitution. Granted, with judicial review, court cases have come to supplant the laws of the land via precedents... but that's a post for another day. (Er, rather, one I already wrote...)

Suffice it to say, I really, really can't stand activist judges. I don't care what you think is best - I care that you use your experience in interpreting the Constitution. Ugh. When I was a journalist, believe you me, I had opinions aplenty about the goings-on of the communities I covered, but I had the self-restraint to leave my ideas out and simply report on what the decision-makers had to say because I knew people didn't care what I had to say. It wasn't my job! If only judges (and the mainstream media) could exercise such restraint...

*Stepping off soapbox*

Okay, so, back to Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The Wall Street Journal's law blog had an excellent post recapping the day's events. The trial kicked off with three testimonies from the No on 8 camp - two lesbian women and a gay man - that reflected their legal team's strategy: place the case on par with the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Their lawyer Ted Olson called marriage a "basic civil right" that Prop. 8 sought to take away.

(No matter that gay marriage was only legal in California because the courts improperly overturned the people's vote from Prop. 22... just sayin'...)

Then the Yes on 8 side got its turn, with the legal team arguing that marriage rights for same-sex couples undermines the "pro-child institution" aspect of marriage, redefining marriage's very nature to be a private relationship between two adults that's based on love. This chips away at the parent-child bond and will likely lead to an upswing in divorce rates.

Not surprisingly, most of the media coverage focuses on the No on 8 side. If you want to hear more on the strategy and perspective of the Yes on 8 legal team, General Counsel Andy Pugno is blogging - click here to read his post from Day One.

This is going to be an interesting ride, my friends. Let's just hope and pray that right will prevail - and even if it doesn't, well, let us at least leave a record of where we stood. I don't care if the Sean Penns of the world think we're on the wrong side of history. It's not their opinion that matters. The family is a critical institution established by God. It's the bedrock of every society - not to mention of the eternities. We must defend it with all we've got, because if it crumbles, so too will our society.