Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, June 17, 2005

At least one judge is trying to slow the tide to allow a moment of thought

Here's my usual statement: I haven't decided yet whether I approve of gay "marriage," as opposed to gay civil unions, which I do believe are appropriate. I was therefore glad to read that at least one judge is unwilling to overturn hundreds, nay, thousands, of years of traditional beliefs about marriage:

The federal law that excludes same-sex couples from the benefits of marriage is constitutionally sound, a federal judge in Southern California declared Thursday in a case that could reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Ruling in a suit by two gay men who were denied a marriage license in Orange County, U.S. District Judge Gary Taylor said the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act promotes 'the stability and legitimacy of what may reasonably be viewed as the optimal union for procreating and rearing children by both biological parents.'' *** But the significance of Taylor's decision is that it was only the third in the nation to address the validity of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the only one headed for appeal to higher courts. Rulings in Washington state and Florida, upholding other aspects of the law, have not been appealed.
What's also interesting about this case is that strategists in the gay community are divided about whether to appeal the case up the judicial food chain. While they're certainly sure of a warm welcome in the 9th Circuit, things may not turn out so well by the time the case gets to the Supreme Court.
To some gay-rights advocates' dismay, the couple's lawyer, Richard Gilbert, said he will ask the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn Taylor's ruling. "You don't tell a slave that it's not a good time to bring a case to be freed, to just remain as a slave until some political action committee feels it's a good time,'' Gilbert said. "You'd never say to a victim of civil rights abuse that this isn't a convenient time to address your rights. It's like telling a person in a burning building that this isn't a convenient time to exit.'' But lawyers who challenged the California marriage law in the San Francisco case said it's too early to take the marriage issue to federal courts and risk an unfavorable ruling by an appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court. "We wish this case had not gone forward,'' said attorney Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represents 12 same-sex couples. The inability of gays and lesbians to marry makes it difficult to bring the human impact of laws like these before the court and makes it more likely that the federal law will be upheld, Minter said.
By the way, I find interesting the fact that the gay couple's attorney analogizes their situation to slavery or to being trapped in a burning building. Somehow, I didn't think the situation was that extreme. Who knew?