Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The California Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument In A Most Significant Marriage Case

Today’s oral argument at the California Supreme Court has considerable implications regarding marriage. Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, presented the oral argument on behalf of the Campaign for California Families (CCF). The court hearing lasted approximately three hours. A decision is expected within the next 90 days.

This case involves a four-year-old dispute over the constitutionality of California’s marriage laws. In February 2004, Liberty Counsel filed suit on behalf of CCF and its executive director, Randy Thomasson, to stop San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The California Supreme Court eventually ruled that the mayor did not have authority to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Meanwhile, several same-sex couples and the City and County of San Francisco filed several lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the marriage laws. Those lawsuits and Liberty Counsel’s original action were consolidated and have gone through several court hearings and appeals, until finally reaching the California Supreme Court.

Liberty Counsel argues that the fundamental constitutional right to marry includes rights and obligations that cannot be eliminated, because they come from the inherent nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Marriage is more than a private relationship between two people who love each other. While it is a private relationship, marriage serves a public purpose to preserve society’s interest in procreation and to provide the optimal environment for children. The state has an interest in protecting an institution that predates government in order to encourage responsible procreation among opposite-sex couples. Among opposite-sex couples, procreation is sometimes planned and sometimes unplanned. Children are thus the natural consequence of opposite-sex relationships. Providing for the next generation is essential to any society, but providing an environment that encourages stable relationships for the well-being of children is critically important. Marriage thus provides encouragement for opposite-sex couples to unite for the sake of children. Same-sex couples do not need marriage to encourage their unions, because such relationships never produce unplanned children.