- The Washington Times - Monday, June 7, 2004

Lawyers in Massachusetts are preparing for a federal court hearing today on whether the state high court had the power to change the state’s marriage law by itself.

“We will argue that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court exceeded its power when it redefined marriage from the ‘union of one man and one woman’ to the ‘union of two persons’” in the Nov. 18 high court decision, Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, said of today’s hearing before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The so-called Goodridge decision, named after the homosexual couple that brought the issue to court, legalized same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts as of May 17.

When the Massachusetts court bypassed the legislative and executive branches to change state marriage law, it upset the separation of powers in the state and violated the plaintiffs’ rights, under the “guarantee clause” of the U.S. Constitution, to have a republican government, said Mr. Staver, who with other conservative lawyers represent 11 Massachusetts lawmakers and a Boston resident.

The plaintiffs have asked the federal court to stop the state from issuing or recording marriage licenses for homosexuals.

Lawyers with the Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, who won the Goodridge case, will argue that the high court was well within its authority to reach its decision and that jurisdictional questions already have been raised and answered.

Meanwhile, in Missouri and Oregon, courts have issued rulings related to same-sex “marriage,” and in New Mexico, a county official who authorized a brief same-sex “marriage” spree has lost an election.

In Missouri, a constitutional amendment to recognize marriage as only the union of a man and a woman will be placed on the Aug. 3 primary ballot, the state Supreme Court said last week.

Republican leaders, citing state election law, wanted the marriage amendment to appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. But Democrats feared it would energize Republican voters and benefit President Bush and other Republicans.

Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, exercised his option to order the amendment placed on a special- election ballot, and the high court agreed with him.

In Oregon, an appeals court said the state did not have to start registering 3,022 same-sex “marriage” licenses issued in Multnomah County today.

However, this is only a temporary hold, pending a more complete ruling later this month, said a spokesman for Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers.

“At this point, it doesn’t look like Oregon is going to be the second state to accept same-sex marriage certificates yet. But in two weeks, that could all change,” the spokesman said.

In New Mexico, Victoria Dunlap, clerk of Sandoval County, lost her bid for a county commission seat.

Ms. Dunlap, a Republican, granted 66 “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples in February until she was stopped by the state attorney general.

Ms. Dunlap later decided to run for commissioner instead of re-election. Last week, she lost by an unofficial tally of 199 to 76, the Associated Press said.

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