- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

Conservative advocates are heartened by a recent federal court decision upholding traditional marriage in California, but are angered by an Iowa court ruling that left intact the “divorce” of a lesbian couple.

The Iowa Supreme Court Friday ruled that District Court Judge Jeffrey A. Neary was within his jurisdiction when he terminated the Vermont civil union of Kimberly Brown and Jennifer Perez, both of Sioux City.

Seven Iowa lawmakers, including Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King, as well as a pastor and a church, challenged Judge Neary’s decision, saying he couldn’t end a union that the state didn’t recognize.

However, the Iowa Supreme Court said the issue wasn’t whether Judge Neary “was correct or incorrect in dissolving the Vermont civil union,” but whether the plaintiffs had a right to challenge a decision when they weren’t a party to it or injured by it.

“We conclude they don’t have such a right,” the court said, throwing out the case.

The decision showed “you can’t use another person’s private case to pursue your own political agenda,” said lawyer Camilla Taylor of Lambda Legal, which joined the Iowa Civil Liberties Union and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Central Iowa in supporting Judge Neary.

Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center said the high court “dodged” the issue and predicted it was “only a matter of time before homosexual activists try to use this ruling to further redefine marriage in Iowa.”

Separately, in Santa Ana, Calif., U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional.

“Because procreation is necessary to perpetuate humankind, encouraging the optimal union for procreation is a legitimate government interest. Encouraging the optimal union for rearing children by both biological parents is also a legitimate purpose of government,” Judge Taylor wrote in his June 16 ruling in a case filed by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer of Orange County, Calif.

Judge Taylor abstained from ruling on the constitutionality of California’s marriage laws because they are the subject of a state lawsuit.

Mr. Smelt and Mr. Hammer are suing county and state officials, as well as seeking to strike down DOMA, for denying them a “marriage” license. Their attorney, Richard Gilbert, said he has been asked to appeal the ruling, according to news media reports.

Some homosexual activist groups are unhappy with the Smelt case, which they see as premature. “We wish this case had not gone forward,” Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Liberty Counsel of Orlando, Fla., who are representing California traditional-values groups in the case, were pleased with the ruling.

“Surely the state has legitimate interests in preserving marriage as a complementary opposite-sex relationship,” said Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver. This was “a common-sense decision.”

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