- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge yesterday upheld the federal law protecting states from having to recognize another state’s homosexual “marriages,” dismissing a lawsuit by two women seeking to have their Massachusetts union recognized by Florida.

In a separate ruling yesterday, pro-family forces scored a victory in Louisiana, where the state Supreme Court unanimously reinstated the marriage amendment to the state constitution that voters overwhelmingly approved in September.

The federal case was filed by Nancy Wilson and Paula Schoenwether, who live in Tampa and were “married” in Massachusetts in July. They argued that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because it discriminates on the basis of sex and violated their fundamental rights.

But U.S. District Judge James S. Moody disagreed, saying the law treats men and women equally and that the government met its burden of stating a legitimate interest for allowing marriages to exist only between men and women.

“The legislatures of individual states may decide to overturn its precedent and strike down” the law, Judge Moody wrote. “But, until then, this court is constrained to hold [the law] and the Florida statutes … constitutionally valid.”

Attorneys for conservative groups hailed the ruling as an important first step, with Tom Minnery of Focus on Family calling the ruling “a significant victory — for marriage and democracy.”

“Unfortunately, at any time, marriage in any jurisdiction is only one judge away from being ruled unconstitutional,” he said.

The plaintiffs promised to appeal.

“We are not giving up,” said lawyer Ellis Rubin, who filed the lawsuit on the women’s behalf. “This case is going to be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court, and I have said that since the day I filed it.”

The Louisiana high court reversed a state district judge’s ruling in October striking down the amendment on the grounds that it violated a provision of the state constitution requiring that an amendment cover only one subject.

“Each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object,” the high court said in an opinion signed by six of its seven justices. The seventh filed a concurring opinion.

The court’s ruling puts the amendment in the state constitution.

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