- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 26, 2004

In the nine-way race to become the second U.S. state to legalize same-sex “marriage,” New Jersey, Oregon and Washington state appear to be in the lead, lawyers and activists say.

Legal advances in those three states make them the “likely candidates for following in the footsteps of the Massachusetts high court,” said Lambda Legal lawyer David Buckel, referring to the landmark Goodridge decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which legalized same-sex “marriage” in that state as of May 17.

Mr. Buckel and his colleagues represent seven homosexual couples who want to “marry” in New Jersey. Last week, they filed a request with the New Jersey Supreme Court, asking it to take their case immediately, bypassing the appellate court.

If the New Jersey high court accepts the case, it will be on the fastest track because court briefings in that case are completed, Mr. Buckel said. The supreme courts in Oregon and Washington have also agreed to hear similar lawsuits, he said, but their briefing processes have only just begun.

Opponents don’t concede that there will be a second state to legalize same-sex “marriage.”

“I don’t want to predict we’re going to lose in any state,” said Glen Lavy of the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal group that is defending traditional marriage laws in several states, including Washington and Oregon.

But news that the New Jersey lawsuit might go straight to the high court is “chilling for those who know the composition” of the court, said Robert H. Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute at Concerned Women for America.

The New Jersey Supreme Court is “probably the most radical-left state supreme court in America,” Mr. Knight said.

It was the New Jersey court, he noted, “that told the Boy Scouts that they were bigots for not wanting homosexual men to take boys on camping trips.” The New Jersey court’s ruling to force the Scouts to admit homosexuals was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many states have amended their constitutions to say that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Missouri and Louisiana voters recently approved such marriage amendments and similar votes are scheduled in 11 other states Nov. 2. Oregon is one of the 11 states with an amendment vote. If voters approve it, it is expected to derail that state’s same-sex “marriage” lawsuit.

However, in New Jersey, the constitution can only be amended by lawmakers — not public petition drives — and the Democrat-dominated legislature doesn’t appear eager to pass an amendment.

John Tomicki, executive director of the conservative League of American Families, says he and his allies are “reasonably optimistic” that the New Jersey high court will not approve same-sex “marriage.”

A year ago, a New Jersey Superior Court judge issued “an extremely clear, concise opinion” that said “there is no statutory or constitutional authority” for same-sex “marriage,” Mr. Tomicki said. “There is a reasonable chance that [the high court] will uphold the lower-court decision.”

Mr. Buckel said the New Jersey lower-court ruling came before the Goodridge decision in Massachusetts. Since Goodridge, he said, several lower-court judges have ruled in favor of same-sex “marriage.”

In addition to New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, same-sex “marriage” lawsuits are under way in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Florida, Maryland and New York.

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