When Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, announced earlier this month that he has evolved into a supporter of same-sex marriage after years of faithfully defending actual marriage, it seemed more a matter of shifting convenience than a blinding conversion of conscience. His son had announced that he is gay, and the senator apparently wanted to get his family's values in alignment.
"Two years ago, my son Will, then a college freshman, told my wife, Jane, and me that he is gay," the Ohio Republican explained in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed essay. As a member of the House in 1996, Mr. Portman voted for the federal Defense of Marriage Act, one of two related cases that get their day in court Tuesday.
Homosexual "marriage" is an issue with profound social and moral ramifications for all of society. Such decisions shouldn't be made on the basis of anecdotal evidence or how the court might affect one senator's personal convenience. Mr. Portman could have announced his change of heart at any time over the past two years since Will's announcement, or he could have waited another two weeks. Instead, he broadcast his new and revised convictions only days before the Supreme Court was set to take up the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and of California's Proposition 8, which bars same-sex marriage (such as it is). The timing of the senator's announcement suggests he was trying to influence the court, naive as a senator may be to think he can influence the Supreme Court.
The Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from according federal marriage-related tax and other benefits to same-sex couples while protecting states, where same-sex marriage is not permitted, from being compelled to recognize marriages in the nine states and the District of Columbia, where such unions are recognized.
Mr. Portman defends his new convictions with appropriate rue, and true to his trade, tries to please everybody. "I believe change should come about through the democratic process in the states," he says. "Judicial intervention from Washington would circumvent that process as it's moving in the direction of recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. An expansive court ruling would run the risk of deepening divisions rather than resolving them."
We think the Supreme Court should uphold Proposition 8 because it expresses the stated will of the voters of California. Advocates of same-sex marriage can always put the issue to another vote if the Supreme Court disappoints them. If in fact society is "moving in the direction of recognizing marriage for same-sex couples," that's something for Californians to decide, not for unelected judges 3,000 miles from the scene of the issue at hand. Voiding Proposition 8 would cast a shadow over the validity of statutes and state constitutional amendments banning homosexual "marriage" in the other 41 states. No court in the land would be safe from the tidal wave of lawyers seeking injunctive relief.
Marriage is too important as the foundation of society to allow fringe activists to undermine it. The Supreme Court should stand aside and let the people decide, as they have in California.
The Washington Times
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