Ten states file anti-gay marriage brief

Document asserts marriage laws lie with state, not federal courts


Ten U.S. states have jointly filed a gay marriage opposition brief to a federal appeals court in California.

The amicus brief sent Sept. 24 to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said that the Constitution does not require marriage to include same-sex couples. The 39-page brief also said that states, not federal courts, have final say in whether to allow same-sex marriages.

A federal judge ruled last month that that California's Proposition 8, a voter-passed ban on same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional. Judge Vaughn Walker ruled there was no legitimate state interest in preventing same-sex marriages and that "moral disapproval" alone wasn't sufficient reason to justify banning it.

The case is being appealed.

The Wyoming-based Casper Star-Tribune reported that other states who joined the brief against gay marriage are Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. They argued that same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right.

"If public affirmation of anyone and everyone's personal love and commitment is the single purpose of marriage, a limitless number of rights claims could be set up that evacuate the term marriage of any meaning," the brief said.

The amicus brief was criticized by Jason Marsden, of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, a Denver-based gay-rights organization. He told the newspaper it was "very puzzling" that Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg joined given that the Wyoming legislature last year defeated a resolution to ban recognition of gay marriages performed in other states.

"I thought it'd be pretty clear that the legislative branch, at least, doesn't want to send this kind of message of lack of acceptance to its gay and lesbian citizens," Marsden said. "But the attorney general appears to have taken another direction."

Becky Vandeberghe, of WyWatch Family Action, a Wyoming-based family-values group that opposes gay marriage, said she was "very pleased'' to see that Wyoming joined the brief. WyWatch joined more than 30 other groups in submitting an amicus brief of their own to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week against the California decision.

"The California voters spoke, and that should be honored," Vandeberghe said. "We don't believe that judges should be overruling what the will of the people is."

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