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Judge's Ruling Washington Same-sex 'Marriage' Ban as Unconstitutional Affirms Need for FMA

Traditional marriage backers' fears were realized when a judge proved the DOMA could be challenged after granting marriage rights to eight same-sex couples.
( [email protected] ) Aug 04, 2004 09:23 PM EDT

A judge’s ruling to strike down the Washington-adopted Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans same-sex “marriage,” on August 4, only affirms what traditional marriage backers have been saying all along: only a constitutional amendment can secure marriage from being redefined.

In a case involving eight same-sex couples suing for King County to grant them marriage licenses, Judge King County Superior Court Judge William L. Downing said denying the same-sex couples of marriage is unconstitutional.

"The denial to the plaintiffs of the right to marry constitutes a denial of substantive due process,” he said.

"The court concludes that the exclusion of same-sex partners from civil marriage and the privileges attendant thereto is not rationally related to any legitimate or compelling state interest and is certainly not narrowly tailored toward such an interest,” Downing wrote.

Lambda Legal Defense, representing the plaintiffs, have said the judge’s decision is stayed until the state Supreme Court reviews the case barring marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples before the final decision.

Downing’s ruling goes against the DOMA, a law prohibiting same-sex “marriages,” which has been adopted by Washington and 37 other states.

While supporters of same-sex “marriage” from states, most recently Missouri, set to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage to be between one man and one woman say the measure is unnecessary when the DOMA is in effect, Downing’s ruling has justified fears held by opponents of same-sex “marriage” that a court can challenge the DOMA.

"This ruling by a Washington trial court underscores why we need a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” said Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, a leading public interest law firm currently defending more than 30 of the approximately 40 cases challenging traditional marriage in the country.

“To say that there is no legitimate state interest to protect traditional marriage as the union of one man and one woman is absolutely ridiculous,” he continued.

Refuting arguments that the denial of same-sex “marriage” is a violation of the constitution, Liberty Counsel cited a Washington court of appeals 1997 ruling in the case of Singer v. Hara in which the judge said the Equal Rights Amendment in the state constitution did not apply to same-sex marriage.

In March, six same-sex couples, later joined by two other couples, filed a lawsuit against King County Executive Ron Sims after he refused to issue them marriage licenses. Sims supports Downing’s ruling.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed another lawsuit in April on behalf of 11 same-sex couples.

In his ruling, Downing also dismissed the notion there is a difference between children raised by same-sex couples and heterosexual couples.

“There are no scientifically valid studies tending to establish a negative impact on the adjustment of children raised by an intact same-sex couple as compared with those raised by an intact opposite-sex couple," Downing wrote.

Glenn Stanton, Focus on the Family's senior research analyst for marriage and sexuality, in his response to the American Psychological Association’s position on same-sex “marriage,” said, "Study after study has found that boys and girls not raised by both their mother and father are much more likely to, among other things, suffer abuse, perform poorly in school, suffer lower levels of mental and physical health and wind up in trouble with the law.”

Stanton said, “This policy will subject generations of children to the status of lab animals in a vast, untested social experiment with the family. No one can say that is compassionate."

Traditional marriage is not only important in raising children, according to Staver, but also a fundamental unit of society.

He said, “Marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been part of American history since its foundation, and is at the core of every civilized society. Traditional marriage is important to our society for many reasons, not the least of which is procreation and child rearing. If judges can't understand such a simple concept, then one wonders how they can judge objectively anything at all.”