In Puerto Rico, a federal judge who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter has ruled in defense of traditional marriage.
District judge Juan Perez-Gimenez ruled that both the Constitution and legal precedent plainly showed that marriage was a state issue and not something that the federal government has any say over. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court chose not to hear other cases where judges, in all practicality, forced gay marriage onto states who had passed traditional marriage legislation. Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News surmised that the Supreme Court chose not to involve itself because as of yet there had not been a District court split on the issue. (So far, the lower courts have been almost unanimous in their support of gay marriage.)
The defendants in the Puerto Rico case have already appealed, but if the District court agrees with Judge Perez-Gimenez, it could force the Supreme Court to get involved!
In an elegant decision handed down Tuesday, Perez-Gimenez relies on two basic arguments. First, he notes that the U.S. Constitution is silent on marriage, thus reserving authority over marriage to the states–and adds that a 1972 precedent to that effect inBaker v. Nelson, which other courts have considered void, still holds. Only the Supreme Court, Perez-Gimenez says, may overturn Baker–and to this date, he notes, it has declined to do so.
Second, Perez-Gimenez notes that last year’s twin rulings in the celebrated U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry do not actually void state powers to ban gay marriage. Hollingsworth v. Perry, he notes, was dealt with on procedural grounds, and though Windsor struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it “reaffirms the States’ authority over marriage, buttressing Baker’s conclusion that marriage is simply not a federal question.”
Furthermore, Perez-Gimenez notes, gay marriage activists have not explained how their logic, using the Equal Protection Clause, would preclude polygamy or incest. Such questions do not arise from “cruel discrimination and ridicule,” he says, but are legitimate and demand that proponents of a “right” to gay marriage “render reasons justifying the change and articulate the principles that they claim will limit this newly fashioned right.”
This ruling was well-reasoned and well-written… but that doesn’t mean it will stand up before a liberal District court. If it does, Judge Perez-Gimenez’s ruling could play a very important role in the battle over traditional marriage in America.
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