Good news turns up when and where it can. On Tuesday, a federal judge appointed by President Carter bucked the latest fashion among his colleagues, and upheld marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. Elsewhere in the country federal judges have leaped to impose homosexual marriage on the states by overturning laws, constitutional amendments and other policies endorsed by a vote of the people.
U.S. District Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez’s 21-page ruling in Puerto Rico is striking for its discipline, restraint and respect for the law, which is sorely lacking in the emotion-driven liberal judicial activism on the contentious issue. He agreed with Puerto Rico’s contention that “[b]ecause the federal Constitution is silent on the issue of marriage, Puerto Rico is free to formulate its own policy governing marriage.”
Activist judges have divined a “right” to homosexual marriage from “emanations and penumbras” from last year’s high court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (U.S. v. Windsor) and California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry). Judge Perez-Gimenez disagreed, buttressing his decision with the Supreme Court precedent of Baker v. Nelson, in which the justices turned away a 1972 challenge to Minnesota’s traditional marriage law “for want of a substantial federal question.” Unlike 40 years ago, there’s now “a substantial federal question,” even if it’s one forced on everyone by federal judges. “This court is bound by decisions of the Supreme Court that are directly on point,” the judge wrote. “Only the Supreme Court may exercise ‘the prerogative of overruling its own decisions.’”
The impact of Judge Perez-Gimenez’s decision extends far beyond Puerto Rico, as it sets the stage for a split that the Supreme Court would have to resolve. Spurning appeals by both sides seeking a definitive ruling one way or the other, the high court earlier this month declined to take up the issue. The justices didn’t say why, but the conventional wisdom was that as long as the lower federal courts’ rulings were in agreement, the justices wouldn’t have to intervene.
The high court’s failure to act has allowed same-sex marriages to commence in more than a dozen states, from Virginia and Oklahoma to Indiana and Idaho. That’s just the beginning. Two ordained ministers in Idaho, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, now face the threat of fines and even jail time in Coeur d’Alene for refusing to preside over same-sex ceremonies at their Hitching Post Wedding Chapel.
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit on the Knapps’ behalf to prevent local officials from using anti-discrimination statutes to bludgeon them into violating deeply held religious beliefs. The lavender lobby won’t rest simply with allowance of homosexual marriage. Their goal is acceptance, to put aside “the ick factor,” and they want the law to send anyone who disagrees to prison. That’s why it’s important never to waver in the defense of traditional marriage.