- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Homosexual “marriage” battles continue this month with a Missouri court hearing today on the timing of a public vote on marriage, and a federal court hearing next week about whether Massachusetts judges had the right to legalize same-sex “marriages.”

In today’s hearing, the Missouri Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments over whether a constitutional marriage amendment should be put on the ballot for the August primary or the November general election.

Democratic leaders, including Gov. Bob Holden and Attorney General Jay Nixon, want the vote on the one-sentence amendment — which would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman — to be held in August. According to news reports, Democrats fear that if the amendment vote is held in November, it will benefit Republican candidates, including President Bush.

The Missouri Constitution automatically places proposed amendments on the November ballot unless the governor sets an earlier special election. Mr. Holden has called for such a special election on Aug. 3, but Republican lawmakers and state officials have not processed the paperwork on the amendment, which passed May 14.

The issue landed in court and Democrats, who have lost two court decisions, are appealing to the state high court.

In Louisiana, lawmakers have approved a marriage amendment but, like those in Missouri, have yet to decide if it will go to voters in September or November.

Marriage amendments are set for November ballots in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah, and may appear on ballots in Arkansas, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Oregon if petition drives are successful.

In Massachusetts, which legalized same-sex “marriage” on May 17, lawyers are preparing for a June 7 hearing before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The appeals court last month declined to stop the marriage licenses from being issued, but agreed to hear arguments about whether the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had the power to legalize same-sex “marriage” in its 4-3 decision.

The high court “exceeded its power when it redefined marriage from the ‘union of one man and one woman’ to the ‘union of two persons,’” said Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, one traditional-values legal group representing 11 Massachusetts lawmakers and a Boston resident.

Homosexual-rights lawyers insist that the Massachusetts high court was well within its purview to find that the equal-rights protections in the state constitution allow homosexual couples to marry.

More than 1,700 state marriage licenses have been issued to homosexual couples since May 17, according to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) in Boston.

However, only licenses issued to Massachusetts couples will be registered, said Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, citing a 1913 law that says marriages conducted in Massachusetts that wouldn’t be valid in the couple’s home state are void.

Last week, the last of six Massachusetts towns that had been issuing licenses to nonresident same-sex couples said they would stop at the request of Mr. Romney and state Attorney General Thomas Reilly.

Lawyers with GLAD, which won the landmark case, predict that out-of-state same-sex couples will soon bring a legal challenge to the 1913 residency law.

Elsewhere in Massachusetts, a bill to remove Chief Justice Margaret Marshall from the bench was introduced in the House, where a bill already exists to remove the four justices who voted to legalize same-sex “marriages.” Both these bills are viewed as long shots, as is a measure passed by the Senate last month to repeal the 1913 law.

In other same-sex “marriage” arenas:

• The California Supreme Court held a hearing last week on whether San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom had the right to issue 4,037 “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples earlier this year. Attorneys for Mr. Newsom said the state constitution’s equal-protection clause allowed him to override state law and issue licenses without regard to gender. Attorneys for traditional-values groups said Mr. Newsom had no such authority and his actions and the “marriage” licenses should be nullified. A ruling is expected within 90 days.

• In Arizona, the state high court last week declined to hear a same-sex “marriage” case brought by two homosexual men who were denied a license. The Arizona case was similar to the Massachusetts case, but had a totally different outcome: The Arizona lower court ruling that there was no constitutional right to same-sex “marriage” was allowed to stand by both an appeals court and the high court.

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