Wedding Bills Ring on Capitol Hill
It's been a convenient talking point of the media that Republicans haven't said much about the marriage debate since the Supreme Court's summer ruling. Today, they let their legislation do the talking. After a string of bad court decisions, Congress is stepping in to do the job that five justices did not: protect state marriage laws. Under the leadership of Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), conservatives are making it clear that they have no intentions of backing away from the unions that a super majority of states respect.
When the Supreme Court overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last June, the federal government was suddenly forced to recognize same-sex "marriages" regarding more than 1,000 laws and benefits that apply to "spouses." What the justices didn't do was clarify what the ruling meant for homosexuals who "wed" in a state where it was legal and then moved to one of the 33 states where it isn't. For states, the ambiguity has been a legal and bureaucratic nightmare, as they try to sort out which laws apply to which couples.
Of course, the Obama administration has tried to fill in the blanks by ordering states to recognize all unions, regardless of what their individual constitutions say. In doing so, the Obama administration has created what the Supreme Court specifically condemned: "two contradictory marriage regimes within the same state." While the court didn't strike down every state marriage law, the President has tried to -- using the power of his federal agencies to offer Social Security, veterans, Medicaid, and other benefits to every couple (regardless of where they live) in a backdoor attempt to expand same-sex "marriage" to every state in America.
But, as Rep. Weber points out, that doesn't jive with the Supreme Court's opinion, which insists that states have the "historic and essential authority to define the marital relation." Under Congressman Weber's new bill, the State Marriage Defense Act, the federal government would have to respect the definitions of marriage in all 50 states. A couple's residence would define their marital status.
In other words, if two women tied the knot in Vermont (where same-sex "marriage" is legal) and then moved to Virginia (where same-sex "marriage" is banned), they wouldn't be eligible for the special federal tax deductions or spousal benefits that are normally reserved for married couples. It's a common sense solution that respects the wishes of each state and forces the President to respect the democratic process. If the federal government is obligated to uphold the different state laws on marriage, that ought to include the 33 who define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
And while Congress isn't willing to let the courts have the last word on marriage, Governor Susana Martinez seems ready to. The once-conservative Governor of New Mexico decided to pack it in and go home when her state's supreme court ruled the wrong way on marriage. Instead of standing her ground, Martinez waved the white flag on a potential state marriage amendment -- yielding every ounce of her power to an out-of-control judiciary with political goals. Before the judges sided with the radical Left, there was a strong consensus that the state should introduce a marriage amendment and let the people decide.
Monday, Martinez handed the victory to New Mexico liberals on a platter, insisting that the state should focus on other issues like the economy and education reform. "I think what I said before was that yes, the people should have decided on it, but the Supreme Court has decided," she told reporters. "And now it's the law of the land."
Obviously, Governor Martinez needs a class in basic civics, because the court doesn't write the law -- legislators do. And it's absolutely indefensible that a leader who ran on a pro-marriage platform would renege on her word and silence constituents. If Governor Martinez won't do her job, then conservative clerks shouldn't have to perform theirs. Already county officials are resigning from their posts, making it clear that they would rather quit than issue same-sex "marriage" licenses.
California Stalls on Bathroom Bill
It's a rare thing for judges to practice more restraint than state officials, but that's exactly what happened in California of all places. This week, a court put an end to Secretary of State Debra Bowen's power trip and ordered her to count 5,000 petitions she'd ordered California clerks to ignore. In obvious defiance, county offices had closed early so that they couldn't accept the signatures of at least 5,000 voters trying to put a repeal on the ballot of a new law that forces boys and girls to share bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers with members of the opposite sex in the public schools. Privacy For All Students, an effort led by one of FRC's Pastors Council members, had to take Bowen to court to force her to do her job and include the names of the voters she tried to disenfranchise.
Judge Allen Sumner saw right through her charade and insisted that no amount of political game-playing could stand in the way of the petition signers and the state. "Ever since the voters enacted the referendum power in 1911, courts have liberally construed its provisions to protect the voters' power," he wrote. "The fact that the deadline for submitting petitions falls on a weekend preceding a holiday, or the county registrar closes at noon on Friday, should not prevent Petitioner from having her petition signatures accepted." We tip our hats to Pastor Jack Hibbs and the entire coalition for refusing to take no for an answer. Throughout this entire process, people have insisted that a referendum couldn't be done. Once again, they're proving the skeptics wrong -- despite the obstacles the state is trying to throw in their path. Keep up the good fight, Pastor Hibbs!
Tweet for Life!
Don't miss all of the events leading up to the 41st March for Life -- including FRC's 9th annual ProLifeCon. On January 22, FRC will be hosting what's become a "must attend" part of the March, featuring some of the best and brightest of the pro-life movement. On that Wednesday morning, this premier event for the online community will feature cutting-edge information and advice on how the pro-life community can make a difference in all aspects of social media. Some of our featured speakers this year include:
- Ryan Bomberger, Radiance Foundation
- Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
- Michelle Duggar & Family, TLC's "19 Kids & Counting"
- Brian Fisher, Online For Life
- Jane Fuller, Assist Pregnancy Center of Virginia
- Bethany Goodman, March for Life
- Arina Grossu, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, FRC
- Anna Higgins, Senior Fellow for Life Studies, FRC
- Tony Perkins, President, FRC
- Henry Potrykus, Senior Fellow, Marriage and Religion Research Institute, FRC
- Senator Rick Santorum
- Jill Stanek, jillstanek.com
And more to be announced in the coming weeks! To register for the event, please visit frc.org/prolifecon. For more resources regarding the pro-life movement you can click here. Follow the conference chatter on Twitter with #ProLifeCon.
** The Benghazi scandal continues to rock D.C. and the administration shows no signs of cooperating with the investigations. Read the latest from Ken Blackwell in Townhall.com, "The Will Lie to Your Casket."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.