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Marriage Control Reversals in 2 States Heading to Supreme Court

Date: Aug 06, 2010
Word Count: 2000 words
Cross-Reference: Massachusetts, California, Supreme Court

Two cases in Massachusetts and one case in California raise three challenges to one-man/one-woman government marriage control, respectively based on the 5th, 10th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. If the 10th Amendment challenge succeeds at the Supreme Court, then either side may then choose to use it as they lose other marriage control battles - i.e., finally choosing to use the Polygamy Rights Win-Win Solution to end the debate.

In   the   Summer   of   2010,   U.S.   federal   court   judges   -   in   two   different   states   -   reversed   key   marriage   control   laws.     On   July   8,   a   judge   in   Massachusetts   overturned   the   federal   "Defense   of   Marriage   Act"   (DOMA,   1996)   with   two   separate   cases   –   determining   one   as   a   violation   of   the   Fifth   Amendment   of   the   U.S.   Constitution   and   the   other   as   a   violation   of   the   Tenth   Amendment.     On   August   4,   a   judge   in   California   overturned   "Proposition   8,"   its   State   Constitution's   marriage   control   amendment   (passed   in   2008),   as   a   violation   of   the   Fourteenth   Amendment   of   the   U.S.   Constitution.     Overturning   government-imposed   "one-man/one-woman"   marriage   control   with   the   three   separate   challenges   of   the   Fifth,   Tenth,   and   Fourteenth   Amendments   respectively,   the   decisions   in   both   States   then   proceeded   toward   ultimately   being   brought   before   the   U.S.   Supreme   Court. 
In   Massachusetts,   U.S.   District   Judge   Joseph   L.   Tauro   overturned   the   federal   DOMA   law,   for   being   in   conflict   with   Massachusetts'   own   re-definitions   of   government   marriage.     Namely,   in   the   "Goodridge"   case   of   2003,   the   Supreme   Judicial   Court   of   Massachusetts   had   decided   that   the   Massachusetts   State   Constitution   prohibited   the   exclusion   of   same   sex   marriage;   and   subsequently,   by   May   of   that   next   year,   same   sex   marriages   were   being   recognized   in   that   State.     The   federal   "Defense   Of   Marriage   Act"   (DOMA)   -   federally   mandating   the   one-man/one-woman   re-definition   of   marriage   -   created   direct   legal   conflicts   for   citizens   with   state-recognized   same   sex   marriages   in   Massachusetts. 
After   a   number   of   years   of   such   state-recognized   same   sex   marriages   in   Massachusetts,   Judge   Tauro,   on   July   8,   2010,   decided   two   related   cases.     With   both   cases,   his   decision   overturned   DOMA   –   one   for   violating   the   Fifth   Amendment   and   the   other   for   violating   the   Tenth   Amendment   of   the   U.S.   Constitution.      
In   Gill   v.   Office   of   Personnel   Management,   Judge   Tauro   reversed   DOMA   for   being   "in   violation   of   the   equal   protection   principles   embodied   in   the   Due   Process   Clause   of   the   Fifth   Amendment,"   as   stated   on   Page   2   of   his   decision.     The   text   of   that   amendment's   specific   clause   declares   that   no   person   shall   "be   deprived   of   life,   liberty,   or   property,   without   due   process   of   law."     Judge   Tauro   had   detailed   his   distinction   about   "equal   protection"   being   "in"   the   Fifth   Amendment   in   a   footnote,   declaring,   "Though   the   Fifth   Amendment   to   the   United   States   Constitution   does   not   contain   an   Equal   Protection   Clause,   as   the   Fourteenth   Amendment   does,   the   Fifth   Amendment's   Due   Process   Clause   includes   an   Equal   Protection   component.   See   Bolling   v.   Sharpe."     On   Page   34   of   Judge   Tauro's   decision,   he   declared,   "Decidedly,   DOMA   does   not   provide   for   nationwide   consistency   in   the   distribution   of   federal   benefits   among   married   couples.   Rather   it   denies   to   same-sex   married   couples   the   federal   marriage-based   benefits   that   similarly   situated   heterosexual   couples   enjoy."     With   a   footnote   on   Page   38   that   referenced   the   Romer   v.   Evans   (1996)   Supreme   Court   precedent,   which   prohibits   laws   that   involve   an   impermissible   targeting   of   any   class   of   individuals,   Judge   Tauro   explained   that   DOMA   created   one   classification   (one-man/one-woman)   thereby   excluding   other   classifications   (such   as   same   sex   marriage).     Stating   that   DOMA   violated   the   Due   Process   Clause   of   the   Fifth   Amendment   of   the   U.S.   Constitution,   Judge   Tauro   explained   on   Page   38   of   his   decision,   "Congress   undertook   this   classification   for   the   one   purpose   that   lies   entirely   outside   of   legislative   bounds,   to   disadvantage   a   group   of   which   it   disapproves.   And   such   a   classification,   the   Constitution   clearly   will   not   permit." 
In   Massachusetts   v.   United   States   Health   and   Human   Services,   Judge   Tauro   additionally   reversed   the   same   federal   law   because   "DOMA   violates   the   Tenth   Amendment   of   the   Constitution,"   as   he   stated   on   Pages   1-2   of   his   decision.     On   Page   22,   he   declared,   "It   is   a   fundamental   principle   underlying   our   federalist   system   of   government   that   '[e]very   law   enacted   by   Congress   must   be   based   on   one   or   more   of   its   powers   enumerated   in   the   Constitution.'   And,   correspondingly,   the   Tenth   Amendment   provides   that   '[t]he   powers   not   delegated   to   the   United   States   by   the   Constitution,   nor   prohibited   by   it   to   the   States,   are   reserved   to   the   States   respectively,   or   to   the   people.'" 
This   use   of   the   Tenth   Amendment   as   a   court   precedent   was   quite   a   surprise   to   many   activists   on   all   sides   of   the   debate.     In   the   marriage   control   debate,   the   Tenth   Amendment   position   has   long   been   the   standard   position   presented   mostly   by   polygamy   rights   activists,   reminding   marriage   control   conservatives   that   conservatives   usually   otherwise   say   they   support   the   Tenth   Amendment   principles   too.     Indeed,   typically,   it   is   political   conservatives   –   not   liberal   same   sex   marriage   supporters   -   who   usually   assert   a   Tenth   Amendment   argument   against   federal   government   intrusion.     As   an   example,   after   President   Obama's   federal   health   care   law   was   passed   in   2010,   conservatives   decried   it   as   extreme   liberalism   –   even   actual   socialism.     As   the   federal   law   mandated   that   every   citizen   must   purchase   health   insurance,   conservatives   argued   that   that   federal   mandate   violated   the   Tenth   Amendment   of   the   U.S.   Constitution.     On   August   3,   2010,   the   Missouri   Legislature   agreed   with   that   argument   made   by   conservatives,   passing   "Proposition   C"   to   block   the   federal   mandate   on   its   citizens   as   unconstitutional   because   of   the   Tenth   Amendment.     So,   when   Judge   Tauro   had   used   the   same   Tenth   Amendment   basis   in   deciding   the   same   sex   marriage   case   of   Massachusetts   v.   United   States   Health   and   Human   Services   previously   on   July   8,   2010,   activists   on   both   sides   of   the   marriage   control   debate   were   quite   surprised   indeed. 
But   Judge   Tauro's   two   decisions   in   Massachusetts   were   not   the   only   ones   to   be   eventually   headed   to   the   Supreme   Court   in   the   Summer   of   2010.     Just   a   few   short   weeks   after   Tauro's   decision,   a   federal   judge   in   another   State   handed   down   a   third   decision   additionally   overturning   one-man/one-woman   marriage   control.      
In   California,   on   August   4,   2010,   U.S.   District   Chief   Judge,   Vaughn   R.   Walker,   overturned   "Proposition   8"   (Prop.   8)   for   being   in   conflict   with   the   Fourteenth   Amendment   to   the   U.S.   Constitution.     Prop.   8   was   a   marriage   control   amendment   to   California's   State   Constitution   that   was   passed   by   referendum   in   2008   with   a   52%   majoritarian   collectivism.     The   complete   text   of   Proposition   8   declared,   "Only   marriage   between   a   man   and   a   woman   is   valid   or   recognized   in   California."     In   the   case   called,   Perry   v.   Schwarzenegger,   Judge   Walker   determined   that   both   the   "Due   Process"   and   the   "Equal   Protection"   clauses   of   the   Fourteenth   Amendment   to   the   US   Constitution   made   Prop.   8   unconstitutional   -   regardless   of   any   majority   vote. 
"The   Due   Process   Clause   provides   that   no   'State   [shall]   deprive   any   person   of   life,   liberty,   or   property,   without   due   process   of   law,'"   clarified   Judge   Walker   about   the   Fourteenth   Amendment,   on   Page   5   of   his   decision   in   Perry   v.   Schwarzenegger.     In   explaining   marriage   as   a   fundamental   right,   a   subtitle   on   Page   116   stated,   "Proposition   8   is   unconstitutional   because   it   denies   a   fundamental   right   without   a   legitimate   (much   less   compelling)   reason."     Concluding   that   same   subsection   on   page   117,   Walker   thereby   determined,   "Proposition   8   violates   the   Due   Process   Clause   of   the   Fourteenth   Amendment." 
"The   Equal   Protection   Clause   of   the   Fourteenth   Amendment   provides   that   no   state   shall   'deny   to   any   person   within   its   jurisdiction   the   equal   protection   of   the   laws,'"   clarified   Judge   Walker   on   Page   118   of   his   decision   in   the   case.     On   Page   132,   he   declared,   "The   evidence   shows   that,   by   every   available   metric,   opposite-sex   couples   are   not   better   than   their   same-sex   counterparts;   instead,   as   partners,   parents   and   citizens,   opposite-sex   couples   and   same-sex   couples   are   equal."     Judge   Walker   immediately   thereby   determined   in   his   very   next   sentence,   "Proposition   8   violates   the   Equal   Protection   Clause   because   it   does   not   treat   them   equally." 
Bringing   the   two   clauses   of   "Due   Process"   and   of   "Equal   Protection"   of   the   Fourteenth   Amendment   together,   Judge   Walker   declared   on   Page   109,   "Proposition   8   both   unconstitutionally   burdens   the   exercise   of   the   fundamental   right   to   marry   and   creates   an   irrational   classification   on   the   basis   of   sexual   orientation."     In   his   decision's   Conclusion,   Judge   Walker   decided,   "Proposition   8   fails   to   advance   any   rational   basis   in   singling   out   gay   men   and   lesbians   for   denial   of   a   marriage   license.     Indeed,   the   evidence   shows   Proposition   8   does   nothing   more   than   enshrine   in   the   California   Constitution   the   notion   that   opposite-sex   couples   are   superior   to   same-sex   couples.   Because   California   has   no   interest   in   discriminating   against   gay   men   and   lesbians,   and   because   Proposition   8   prevents   California   from   fulfilling   its   constitutional   obligation   to   provide   marriages   on   an   equal   basis,   the   court   concludes   that   Proposition   8   is   unconstitutional." 
With   his   decision   in   Perry   v.   Schwarzenegger,   Judge   Walker   delineated   the   right   of   the   Individuals   to   marry   as   being   a   "fundamental   right."     That   places   such   a   right   of   the   Individual   above   federal   and   state   government,   even   above   any   majoritarian   collectivism   in   popular   vote.     Consequently,   explaining   that   majoritarian   collectivists   have   no   authority   to   vote   for   any   over-ride   of   a   fundamental   right   of   the   Individuals,   Walker   stated   on   Page   116,   "That   the   majority   of   California   voters   supported   Proposition   8   is   irrelevant,   as   'fundamental   rights   may   not   be   submitted   to   [a]   vote;   they   depend   on   the   outcome   of   no   elections.'" 
All   three   cases   are   on   track   to   eventually   be   brought   before   the   U.S.   Supreme   Court.     Each   case   brings   a   separate   Constitutional   Amendment   challenge,   as   per   the   decisions   of   the   two   respective   Judges.     The   Fifth   Amendment   challenge   reverses   the   marriage   control   of   DOMA   because   that   federal   law   intentionally   does   not   provide   a   consistent   and   equal   application   of   federal   benefits   to   all.     The   Tenth   Amendment   challenge   reverses   the   marriage   control   of   DOMA   because   the   federal   government   is   constitutionally   prohibited   from   being   involved   in   marriage.     The   Fourteenth   Amendment   challenge   reverses   the   marriage   control   of   California's   Proposition   8   –   even   being   down   at   the   State   level   -   because   marriage   is   a   fundamental   right   of   the   Individual   to   which   government   must   treat   with   equal   protection,   without   targeting   any   classification,   and   without   regard   to   what   any   majority-vote   decides. 
Liberal   activists   in   the   government   marriage   debate   otherwise   typically   tend   to   be   supportive   of   the   "Due   Process"   and   "Equal   Protection"   arguments   as   those   are   being   made   in   the   Fifth   and   Fourteenth   Amendment   challenges.     Conservative   activists   otherwise   typically   tend   to   be   supportive   of   the   "prohibited   federal   government"   argument   as   that   is   being   made   in   the   Tenth   Amendment   challenge.     Pro-polygamy   activists   have   repeatedly   declared   that   marriage   –   pre-dating   the   invention   of   government   -   is   a   God-given   right   of   the   Individual   for   unrelated   consenting   adults,   which   may   neither   be   re-defined/infringed   by   government   ordinance   nor   re-defined/infringed   even   by   majority   vote.      
Summarizing   in   totality,   the   three   marriage-control-reversing   challenges   determine   a   number   of   concepts.     Marriage   is   a   fundamental   right   of   the   Individual.     The   federal   government   must   treat   all   citizens   equally.     The   federal   government   is   prohibited   from   being   involved   in   marriage.     And   not   even   a   majoritarian   collective   is   authorized   to   over-ride   the   fundamental   right   of   the   Individual   to   consenting-adult   marriage. 
The   Fifth   and   Fourteenth   Amendment   challenges   raise   serious   questions   for   debate   about   the   validity   of   "anti-discrimination"   laws,   especially   in   regard   to   "Due   Process"   and   "Equal   Protection"   clauses.     Even   so,   the   Tenth   Amendment   challenge   is   not   only   the   most   straight-forward   but   if   the   challenge   succeeds,   it   could   also   be   a   tool   for   either   side   to   use   if   they   lose   other   cases. 
If   the   Supreme   Court   agrees   that   the   Tenth   Amendment   does   prohibit   federal   involvement   in   marriage   control   (to   thereby   reverse   DOMA),   liberals   and   conservatives   would   each   get   a   "win."     In   "losing"   this   challenge,   conservatives   would   "win"   this   specific   precedent   which   they   want   in   other   political   battles   (e.g.,   Missouri's   "Proposition   C"   against   federal   mandated   health   insurance),   while   "losing"   the   ability   to   use   federal   government   to   legislatively   stop   same   sex   marriage   laws   throughout   the   individual   States.     In   "winning"   this   challenge,   liberals   would   "lose"   in   other   political   battles   by   this   precedent,   while   "winning"   this   precedent   to   prevent   another   re-written   DOMA   in   the   future.     In   whichever   way   the   Supreme   Court   decides   the   Fifth   and   Fourteenth   Amendment   challenges,   the   consequence   of   this   Tenth   Amendment   challenge   succeeding   before   the   Supreme   Court   actually   provides   a   tool   for   both   sides,   whether   conservative   or   liberal. 
Namely,   as   either   side   loses   battles   in   the   marriage   control   debate,   they   will   realize   that   this   Tenth   Amendment   precedent   can   help   either   "losing"   side   to   abolish   all   marriage   control   for   unrelated   consenting   adults   -   that   is,   the   Polygamy   Rights   Win-Win   Solution.     Regardless   of   who   uses   this   tool,   everyone   saves   face.   No   one   re-defines   marriage.     And   everyone   wins.        
But   for   now,   all   three   challenges   proceed   to   the   U.S.   Supreme   Court. 


Bibliographic URLs:

Both Sides of 'Goodridge' Validate Polygamy 
July 8, 2010 Massachusetts 
Gill v. Office of Personnel Management 
Romer v. Evans 
Court Decisions Secure "Polygamy Rights" 
July 8, 2010 Massachusetts 
Massachusetts v. United States Health and Human Services 
10th Amendment Prohibits Government Controlled Marriage - Quotes 
August 3, 2010  
Show Me State Sends a Message On Obama's Health Care Law 
DOMA and States Rights Make Strange Bedfellows 
August 4, 2010 California 
Perry v. Schwarzenegger 
End Marriage Control from Both Sides - The Win-Win Solution 
Kick Government Out of Marriage, Not Churches 
[Reviewed for publication - Review Board.]

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