Friday, August 20, 2010

Gary Palmer: Judge's ruling undermines the Constitution

  On August 4, 2010, a federal judge in California broke new ground for abusive judicial activism when he ruled that California’s amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman was unconstitutional.

  Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker not only struck down California’s Proposition 8 that prohibits homosexuals from marrying. His ruling also undermined the rule of law, mocked the right of the people to govern themselves, redefined the laws of nature, espoused his own version of human history and questioned the legitimacy of the Bible. He even singled out the teachings of the Southern Baptists and other evangelical churches along with Orthodox and Catholic churches as examples of bigoted views on homosexuality.

  Prop 8 was passed in 2008 when over seven million Californians voted to ban homosexual marriage. Prop 8 was the second time Californians had voted to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. California voters passed a similar referendum in 2000.

  Prior to issuing the ruling, Walker conducted a farce of a trial that had little to do with the law. In overturning Prop 8, Walker based his decision on the finding of facts that supported the view that homosexual marriage was equal to heterosexual marriage.

  For example, Walker said, “The evidence shows beyond any doubt that parents’ genders are irrelevant to children’s developmental outcomes” and “genetic relationship between a parent and a child is not related to a child’s adjustment outcomes.” He ignored the fact that one of the documents from the American Psychological Association he was quoting as evidence included a disclaimer stating, “Few studies are available regarding children of gay fathers.” He also ignored volumes of research that show that the best environment for raising healthy, well-adjusted children is in a home with their married biological parents.

  In his assault against Prop 8 supporters with strong Christian values, Walker wrote, “The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples.”

  Referencing evidence introduced by opponents of Prop 8 that the teachings of Southern Baptists, evangelicals, Orthodox and Catholic churches are bigoted against homosexuals, Walker wrote that, “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.” In addition, “A private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples is not a proper basis for legislation.”  Notably, Walker did not comment on the teachings of Islam or Sharia law on homosexuality.

  During the trial, Judge Walker questioned the motives of the seven million Californians who voted for the idea that marriage only exists between one man and one woman. He wrote, “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.”

  In other words, people who oppose homosexuals getting married must be motivated by a  sinister agenda. Thus, Walker ordered that all campaign communications of the people supporting Prop 8 were subject to review in order to determine their motivations for supporting the amendment.  His order covered all communications with the campaign staff of, its executive committee, individual sponsors of Prop 8 as well as church leaders and officials who supported the amendment including internal church communications.

  Walker’s ruling was such an outrageous violation of the Prop 8 supporters’ First Amendment right to freedom of association and political speech that even the Ninth Federal Circuit Court, the nation’s most liberal federal circuit court, struck down his ruling.

  It should be noted that Judge Walker’s attacks against the supporters of Prop 8 could be applied to any citizen-approved referendum on any subject—opposition to tax increases, gambling, private property, immigration law or anything else. Losers in a referendum simply need an activist judge who will drag their opponents into federal court and claim they were motivated by religion, racism or outdated notions and traditions.

  Walker stated that limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples is based on “nothing more than an artifact of a foregone notion that men and women fulfill different roles in civic life.”  What Walker wrote in his opinion is in opposition to the very laws of nature, not in opposition to outdated notions or traditions. A man cannot conceive a child by another man nor can a woman conceive by another woman. No arrogant abuse of judicial power can ever change that.

  His ruling is also in opposition to the constitutional right of every man and woman to self-government. Our Constitution is supposed to guarantee that we are a nation of laws, not of opinions, not of powerful special interests and not of arrogant judges. Judge Walker’s ruling is more than an attack on marriage, it is an attack on the sovereignty of the American people and further undermines the Constitution.

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

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