On Tuesday, April 28, less than 2 weeks from now, the nine justices of our nation’s highest court will hear a set of consolidated cases regarding the definition of marriage. These cases come to the court from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals which means cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Late last year, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard these cases and issued a ruling stating that states do indeed have the right to determine what marriage is and beyond that states even have a compelling interest to define marriage as one man and one woman. Shortly after the 6th Circuit issued its opinion, the cases were appealed to the Supreme Court—which eventually said they would consolidate the cases and have oral arguments on them with the arguments focused on or limited to two questions. The two questions are
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
- Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
The Court has allotted a total of 90 minutes for oral argument on the first question and a total of one hour for the second.
Last October, the Court surprised those who had expected marriage to be one of this term’s big issues by deciding not to take up any of the five of the gay marriage cases that were currently before it.
Wisconsin’s marriage case was one of the five that the court declined to hear—which basically immediately made so-called “marriage” between people of the same sex legal in WI. Many believed that what happened was just as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had said: up until the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding the right of states to define marriage for themselves, all the other circuit court appeals decisions had denied the right of states to define marriage. Ginsburg had insinuated that until and unless there was a split decision—which is what the 6th Circuit supplied—the high court wouldn’t feel any urgency to take up the marriage issue.
Numerous friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed by individuals and organizations on both sides of the issue. Our sister organization, Wisconsin Family Action, is part of one in support of traditional marriage. This brief argues that what is best for children is for them to be brought up in the homes of their married mothers, female, and fathers, male. The argument lays out the research that shows that fathers and mothers contribute differently to the upbringing of the next generation but that both are vital. From there, the argument is made that states have a very compelling interest in keeping marriage between one man and one woman because that’s what is in the best interest of the next generation of taxpayers, workers, leaders, etc. Based on that they say that states shouldn’t be forced by other states to recognize other types of marriage that aren’t in the best interest of children.
In addition, 57 sitting Republican members of Congress, from both the House and the Senate, earlier this month filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of traditional marriage and the right of states to determine what marriage will be. They argue that marriage amendments and statutes restricting marriage to one man are one woman are constitutional on the basis of principles of federalism, judicial restraint and states’ traditional sovereignty over domestic relations. Presumably all Republican lawmakers had the opportunity to sign on to this brief—from Wisconsin, only Rep. Glenn Grothman took advantage of the opportunity—or maybe better said was brave enough to do so. Where were the other republican Wisconsin lawmakers—like Reid Ribble, Sean Duffy, Paul Ryan, Jim Sensenbrenner and Senator Ron Johnson?? Do they not believe in traditional marriage? Are they afraid to speak up? Do they not believe WI should have the right to define marriage? Do they think the federal court was right to overrule the will of the people who voted on the definition of marriage in 2006? If you are wondering, maybe you should give them a call and ask them to explain why they didn’t sign on.
Finally, just days ago The Republican Conservative Steering Committee, an independent organization comprising the majority of the current members of the Republican National Committee, along with individuals who were members of the 2012 Republican National Convention Committee on the Platform filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of marriage. To me this is a significant group, making a significant argument that state governments have a compelling reason to protect traditional marriage and family as the foundation of a free society. While this isn’t a statement from the Republican National Committee, it’s a strong statement in support of traditional marriage and family, as well as states’ rights, from Republican party leaders.
For marriage and family,