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Ironic: Calif. ruling could assist efforts to ban ‘gay marriage’

March 16, 2005

When a California judge overturned that state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” March 14, he may have unknowingly helped conservatives nationwide in their struggle to pass constitutional marriage amendments.

When a California judge overturned that state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” March 14, he may have unknowingly helped conservatives nationwide in their struggle to pass constitutional marriage amendments.

California, after all, had a law on the books banning same-sex “marriage.” But it did not have a constitutional marriage amendment.

“This state judge in California would not have had the authority to make that ruling had the constitution been clear on this subject,” said Kansas pastor Terry Fox. “… This shows that nothing outside of a constitutional amendment is going to be good enough for these liberal judges.”

Fox, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Wichita, is leading the effort to pass a constitutional marriage amendment in Kansas. Citizens there will vote on the matter April 5, and Fox says the California ruling can only help the Kansas amendment pass. The ruling by Judge Richard A. Kramer overturned a law that had been passed by 61 percent of California voters in 2000. A marriage amendment would have tied his hands, preventing the ruling.

“This ruling by this state judge proves everything that we’ve been saying is true, and that is this: We need to protect marriage from judges,” Fox said. “The judicial system is out of control. It shows that they are no longer interpreting law but now they’re trying to make law. We must strengthen our state constitutions as well as our U.S. Constitution.”

The ruling likely will result in a petition drive to ban same-sex “marriage” within the California constitution.

It is the second time in recent months that a state has seen its defense of marriage act overturned. Last year judges in Washington struck down that state’s “gay marriage” ban in a case now before the Washington Supreme Court. Like California, Washington has no marriage amendment.

Even though 39 states have laws specifically banning same-sex “marriage,” only 16 of them ban it within their respective constitutions. A 17th state, Hawaii, has an amendment that gives the legislature the authority to ban same-sex “marriage.”

While conservatives still support amending the U.S. Constitution, they see state marriage amendments as a quick fix. Amending the U.S. Constitution can take years. Such is not always the case in amending state constitutions. In Kansas’ case, it will take only three months — assuming it passes. It was introduced in the legislature in January.

The battle to pass state amendments also is seen as a trial run before passing a federal marriage amendment. Fox said he has been told by Kansas’ U.S. representatives that the nation’s eyes are on the state.

“Washington [D.C.] is watching this vote on April 5 in Kansas, because if you can’t pass a state constitutional amendment you can forget about passing a U.S. constitutional amendment and getting the required three-fourths of states [required to ratify it],” Fox said.

While state amendments provide protection against rulings by state judges, they are vulnerable in federal court, where Nebraska’s and Oklahoma’s amendments are being challenged. Conservatives say an amendment to the U.S. Constitution will provide the only lasting protection.

The national movement to ban “gay marriage” is a reaction to events in Massachusetts, where that state’s high court — not restrained by a marriage amendment — issued a ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage.”

Last year alone, voters in 13 states passed marriage amendments — by an average of 70.8 percent of the vote. A marriage amendment has never failed at the ballot.

While conservatives are rushing to pass marriage amendments, liberals are watching to see which state — if any — follows Massachusetts’ lead. The New Jersey appeals court heard a “gay marriage” case in December. Washington’s Supreme Court heard its case March 8. The California case and other cases like it are still in the trial court level. In all, eight states are involved in “gay marriage” lawsuits. Two liberal groups — Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union — are involved in the majority of the suits.

Fox said the push to pass an amendment in Kansas is going well, although opponents are not giving up. Homosexual groups from outside the state, he said, are in Kansas to help organize opposition.

“Several of my members have said they’ve received at least three different phone calls from homosexual activists, encouraging them to vote against the amendment,” he said.

Supporters of the amendment have launched a website — — and bought print, TV and radio ads. Fox said he is speaking around the state, urging people to get out and vote.

“We’ve received a lot of money,” he said. “We’ve been shocked by the amount of money that’s come in — not only from evangelicals but the Catholics have raised a lot of money. We’ve been stunned by the request of yard signs. We’ve had to print thousands and thousands more yard signs than we intended.”

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