Dear Marriage Supporter,
In this week's marriage news, the big story is a big win from the courts in Tennessee.
A Tennessee state judge has ruled that the state's constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman—which was passed by an 81 percent majority of voters in 2006—does not violate the United States Constitution.
In his ruling, Judge Russell Simmons found (correctly) that the Windsor decision from the Supreme Court does not demand that states' marriage laws be overturned:
The Supreme Court [did] not go the final step [in Windsor] and find that a state that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional. Further, the Supreme Court does not find that one state's refusal to accept another state's valid same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Very significantly, the Judge also agreed with the arguments by the State of Tennessee that the state's marriage amendment does not violate equal protection, quoting the following from the State's brief:
Tennessee's Marriage Laws have a rational basis in law and thus do not violate equal protection. [...] Marriage can simply not be divorced from its traditional procreative purpose. [...] The promotion of family continuity and stability is certainly a legitimate state interest, [...] Tennessee's Marriage Laws expressly recognize the family "as the fundamental building block of our society." [...] [T]here is nothing irrational about limiting the institution of marriage to the purpose for which it was created, by embracing its traditional definition [emphasis added].
As I said in a statement on Tuesday, it is refreshing to find a judge who is willing to apply the federal constitution as it is and not reinterpret it so as to redefine marriage.
It is also refreshing to find a judge who gets the point about what marriage is, in its essential meaning and purpose. This should add hope to our outlook in the courts going forward.
They Can Read the Writing on the Wall
Last week, I highlighted the news about the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing of challenges to the marriage laws of Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
You'll recall that even the biased Washington Post admitted about the hearings that, "It became clear after three hours of arguments that the [three judge] panel could become the first roadblock for proponents of same-sex marriage."
For all our opponents' insistence that same-sex marriage is "inevitable," the truth of the matter couldn't be clearer: they know, just as well as we, that the future of marriage in the courts is still very much up for grabs.
We are confident, based on the rationale of the Windsor decision and other key rulings—like the affirmative action case out of Michigan—that the Supreme Court will find in favor of states' rights to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
And I'll let you in on a secret: many of our opponents think so, too!
Back in May, the national pro-same-sex-marriage group Freedom to Marry announced that they were opening new field offices and media operations in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, spending over $1 million to prepare for future campaigns in those states.
Ask yourself: why, if they were confident that the 6th Circuit or the Supreme Court would find in favor of redefining marriage, would they be pouring these kinds of resources into these Midwest states?
An article in POLITICO last week gives an indication of the answer. The article quotes the national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, Marc Solomon, saying:
If the issue's not resolved [by the courts] we are preparing to go to the ballot in five key states — Ohio, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan and Colorado. We are doing this because those are the places where we think we have the best chances of prevailing ... pretty much all of them are right-down-the-middle, swing states [emphasis added].
In other words: they're hedging their bets.
They know, as we do, that it is far from certain that the Supreme Court will impose a radical redefinition of marriage nationwide. And so, they know they will need to pony up for campaigns to redefine marriage on a state-by-state basis.
And I promise you this: NOM will be there, every step of the way, fighting to preserve and protect marriage and to safeguard the voices of millions of voters in these targeted states who have made clear that they believe in the TRUE definition of marriage!
The Importance of Marital Witness
We are confident that the debate over marriage will not be cut short by the Supreme Court, and that our work will continue. That makes one thing perfectly clear: we need marriage champions now more than ever, and we will continue to need them going forward.
Yet, I know it isn't always easy to stand on the front lines of what NOM's founding Chairman, Professor Robert P. George, has called a "civilization-defining battle."
We need to have courage and the right arsenal of arguments, sure. But we also need inspiration and edification, and examples of the joy of marriage: for this, really, is why we fight. On the NOMblog we now have a new category that we will be posting to from time to time called "Married Joy." I encourage you to check it out today, and bookmark it. There are only two posts so far, but we will be adding more in the days and weeks ahead, and maintaining it as a regular feature.
It is important to see heartwarming stories like that of Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher who, in 2008, broke the Guinness World Record for longest married living couple. By the time of their deaths (both at age 105), they had been married for nearly 90 years!
Fortunately for us, before they passed away, Zelmyra and Herbert gave some advice to all of us about how to make married joy last so long and so well, including this great tip: "[P]ray with and for each other every day." Read the rest of their advice here.
I hope it puts a smile on your face and a song in your heart. And I hope it inspires you to keep standing up and keep fighting for marriage, because we know what it really is all about!
Brian S. Brown