- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

As discussions about Iraq are easily at the forefront of foreign-policy priorities in this election year, so has the highly contentious issue of homosexual “marriage” moved to the forefront of policy concerns here at home. Recent months have seen a flurry of legislative activity at the state level, as more than 35 states have introduced legislation aimed at preserving the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman since Massachusetts’ state supreme court ruled in November that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the state’s constitution. On the other hand, some states have acted on behalf of homosexual couples: California, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin all have introduced legislation during the year that would allow same-sex pairs the right to wed.

Congress rightfully has been concerned over this trend and should bring some order to the chaos that ensued after the Massachusetts court decision. To this end, the Senate will vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), a constitutional amendment that would codify the definition of marriage as “the union of a man and a woman,” on July 12. However, a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority to pass, and unfortunately it is unlikely that the FMA will garner the support it needs to be successful.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution today will hold the fourth of a five-part set of hearings examining the issue of homosexual marriage. Today, it will address alternatives to the FMA. The most noteworthy proposed alternative is court-stripping, an idea that lawmakers have considered on other issues — but never enacted — over the years. Rep. John N. Hostettler, Indiana Republican, has introduced a bill that would remove any federal court’s right to review cases concerning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, in essence limiting the debate over homosexual “marriage” to state courts.

In Article I, Section 8 and Article III, Sections 1 and 2, the Constitution grants Congress the authority to establish inferior federal courts, determine their jurisdiction and make exceptions to the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction. Court-stripping long has been a constitutional, but controversial, policy idea. Martin H. Redish, a law professor at Northwestern University who will testify today, warns that “if they [Congress] want to do it, they can do it. However, it will create a political crisis between the courts and Congress like we have never seen.”

This paper upholds marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And as such, we urge policy-makers to continue seeking practical policy solutions to preserve and protect this most venerable institution.

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