Kentucky Fried Constitution
It may be National Marriage Week, but the federal bench has a funny way of celebrating it. In courtrooms from Kentucky to Nevada, democracy is taking a beating from activist judges anxious to put their stamp on the march toward same-sex "marriage." Bluegrass voters were the latest ones caught in the undertow, as a surge of amendment challenges sweep through Middle America. This time, it was a Republican appointee doing the honors -- U.S. District Judge John Heyburn, who ruled that representative government is a distant second to a radical political agenda that 75% of the state had already rejected.
His opinion, a 23-page activists' masterpiece, insisted that Kentucky's marriage amendment "demeans" homosexuals and shouldn't be used to deny couples benefits if they wed in other states. While Heyburn admitted that he was rewriting the law, he insisted he was justified in doing so because "history has already shown us that, while the Constitution itself does not change, our understanding of the meaning of its protections and structure evolves." In an especially patronizing portion of the ruling, Heyburn claims, "[T]his court's role is not to impose its own political or policy judgments on the Commonwealth or its people" -- yet that's exactly what his opinion does by ignoring the people's will!
The decision absolutely blindsided voters, who, as recently as last week, told pollsters that they still opposed same-sex "marriage" by a 20-point margin (55% to 35%). Making matters worse, Kentuckians feel particularly jilted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who lobbied for Heyburn's appointment during George H.W. Bush's presidency. Yesterday, McConnell blasted the damage done by his protégé, insisting that "only the people of Kentucky, through the legislative process, should have the authority to change the law-not the courts." Unfortunately for voters, McConnell's outrage -- however sincere it may be -- cannot undo the devastation done to the state's marriage law by a judge he helped promote.
In the meantime, these cases, which are exploding in states across the country, only point to a deeper problem in the GOP's judicial philosophy. For the last several years, Senate Republicans, with the exception of a courageous few, seem relatively unconcerned about the ideology of lower level judges and vote them through without vetting. As a result, our judical system has been infected with activist judges that undermine the rule of law. Now, thanks to the GOP's indifference, Americans are caught in an avalanche of bad decisions that only reinforce the President's lawlessness. And the victims are states like Kentucky, who watch helplessly as judges set a match to their constitutions.
If Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have anything to say about it, they won't be victims for long. The duo, whose states are both facing same-sex "marriage" challenges, filed a bill today that could be the biggest weapon voters have in the battle for states' rights. Mirroring the language from House Rep. Randy Weber's (R-Texas) bill, Cruz and Lee are introducing a Senate version of the State Marriage Defense Act, which would force the federal government to respect the wishes of each state on marriage -- including the 33 that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. This evening, Sen. Cruz joined me on our daily radio program "Washington Watch" to talk about the importance of beating back this attack on state sovereignty.
In a country that's still fiercely divided on the issue, strong-arming voters is sure to backfire, especially as more Americans see the consequences for Christians like Melissa and Aaron Klein. If you missed their interview on yesterday's "Washington Watch," explaining how they lost their business -- and their freedom -- over same-sex "marriage," listen here. If it's equality liberals are after, then why do we only hear one side?
Love Lift Us up where We Belong
Yesterday, at FRC headquarters, our Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released its 4th Annual Index of Family Belonging. The Index, which is derived from our analysis of Census Bureau data, looks at 15- to 17- year olds in the U.S. The research proves what we all know in our hearts: When couples are united, children thrive. The child is as strong as the relationship between his mother and father or as conflicted as the relationship between them is conflicted. Dr. Pat Fagan's studies reveal:
- Only 46% of American 15- to 17-year-olds were raised with both their biological parents married to one another since before or around the time of their birth.
- Conversely, the parents of 54% of American 15- to 17-year-olds have rejected one another.
- Regionally, the Northeast (50%) has the highest Family Belonging Index and the South (42%) has the lowest, with the following in between: Midwest: 48% and the West: 47%
- Family belonging is strongest among Asians (65%) and weakest among Blacks (17%), with the following in between: White: 54%, Hispanic: 41%, Multiracial: 37%, and American Indian: 25%.
Pat was joined on Wednesday by Jennifer Marshall, The Heritage Foundation's Director for Domestic Policy Studies, who noted that the Index is really "about human hearts, broken human hearts." She discussed how the culture of marriage is "more caught than taught," but with the majority of married couples breaking up, it is difficult for young people to see a good marriage modeled. Also participating was Ron Moten, activist for the African-American family, who talked about his experience growing up in a broken home. He said that he wouldn't have known what to do without his married grandparents as a fallback during times of instability between his own parents. He also said, "My boys are doing well, but they could've been doing so much better if their mom and I were married."
We all know that a mom and a dad are critical to a child's well-being and, therefore, to our society's, as well. Pat and his team of researchers have proven it, and FRC is working constantly to encourage public policies that reflect God's plan for the family. Watch the video from yesterday's lecture, on-demand below. To read some of the media coverage from the event, check out the Washington Times wrap-up and LifeSiteNews's piece.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.