Friday, January 20, 2006

Minnesota for Marriage: Iowa lawsuit reveals urgency for marriage protection amendment

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:05 PM |  

Press release from Minnesota for Marriage --
Iowa lawsuit to overturn marriage reveals the urgency to pass a marriage protection amendment in Minnesota.

Minnesota for Marriage calls for Senator Dean Johnson to stop misleading the voter with irresponsible assurances.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, MINNEAPOLIS, MN - “The lawsuit in Iowa reveals the urgency to pass a marriage protection amendment in Minnesota,” said Chuck Darrell, communications director for Minnesota for Marriage. “Like Iowa, marriage laws will be challenged in Minnesota, and it is certain that our current laws are vulnerable. Despite this, Senator Dean Johnson chooses to lull voters with irresponsible assurances – and leave marriage vulnerable to the same kind of attack,” he added.

In December, Iowa joined a growing list of states battling marriage lawsuits. New York based Lambda Legal, along with 6 lesbian couples filed suit claiming Iowa’s definition of marriage “draws impermissible distinctions based on sex and sexual orientation…all in violation of the equal protection guarantee of the Iowa Constitution.”

Although 63% of Minnesotans want to vote on the marriage amendment, Johnson doggedly dismisses the need for an amendment because Minnesota laws already prohibit same-sex marriage. Speaking before a group in December at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Johnson assured voters that marriage was safe from activist judges as well. Johnson claimed he knew all the Minnesota Supreme Court Judges and that they had no intention of changing marriage laws. “Johnson’s remarks reveal recklessness towards marriage and arrogance towards the concerns of Minnesota families,” adds Darrell.

The similarities between Minnesota and Iowa are chilling. Like Minnesota, Iowa statutes prohibit same-sex marriage. Anticipating a challenge, the Iowa State House passed a marriage protection amendment only to have it bottled in senate committee. In contrast to Minnesota however, same-sex marriage activists have seized upon the legislative gridlock hoping to score a quick win the courts. “Perhaps by creating gridlock in Minnesota, Johnson too is hoping for a quick score after the elections in November,” says Darrell.

In stark contrast to Johnson’s declarations Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary Alberta warned Minnesota pastors not to be fooled by the false assurances of politicians. Bishop Henry sited a 1999 statement by Justice Minister Ann McClellan; “Let me state again for the record that the government (Canada) has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is found in the common law of our country and the common law of our system of law. We the government thought perhaps we could spend our time debating other issues as opposed to that on which there is clarity in law.”

“The people in Iowa and Canada waited until it was too late,” said Darrell. “And if Minnesota waits any longer, the definition of marriage will be decided by judges and homosexual activists as well.”

“Senator Johnson says he is against same-sex marriage. But it’s a safe bet he will continue with his irresponsible assurances while blocking attempts to pass a marriage amendment in the upcoming session; blithely circumventing the will of the people and exposing the definition of marriage to lawsuits and activist judges,” concludes Darrell.
I find a couple of disturbing things in this press release. The first is my usual mantra that if a constitutional amendment is really driven by the fear of activist judges, then limit a constitutional amendment to that issue. Use the amendment process to specifically delegate the authority to define marriage to the legislature. Don't use the constitution as a substitution for specific legislation.

The second thing that I find disturbing is this sentence --
Johnson claimed he knew all the Minnesota Supreme Court Judges and that they had no intention of changing marriage laws.
Having listened to the Roberts and Alito hearings, one can't help come away with the concept that judges simply do not discuss issues that might come before the court. If Johnson did ask such a question of a judge, that is just plain wrong (if the press release is merely fostering that impression, that is just plain wrong and Johnson is owed and apology) and if any Court judges answered that question as Johnson indicated, that is a serious breach of judicial condunct.