6th Circuit upholds freedom of states to affirm marriage as one-man, one-woman


Thursday, November 06, 2014

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione regarding Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in DeBoer v. Snyder to uphold the freedom of several states to affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their laws:

“The people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws. As the 6th Circuit rightly concluded, the Constitution does not demand that one irreversible view of marriage be judicially imposed on everyone. The 6th Circuit’s decision is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s acknowledgement in Windsor that marriage law is the business of the states.”

ADF filed friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of state legislators or pro-family groups in three of the cases that the 6th Circuit consolidated on appeal: Tanco v. Haslam, Obergefell v. Hodges, and Bourke v. Bashear. ADF also filed amicus briefs at the district court level in DeBoer v. Snyder.

Select excerpts from the 6th Circuit’s opinion:

  • p. 8: “Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for that matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea. Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us – just two of us in truth – to make such a vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens who live within the four States of the Sixth Circuit.”
  • pp. 19-20: “A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States…. One starts from the premise that governments got into the business of defining marriage, and remain in the business of defining marriage, not to regulate love but to regulate sex, most especially the intended and unintended effects of male-female intercourse. Imagine a society without marriage. It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children.”
  • pp. 20-21: “Once one accepts a need to establish such ground rules, and most especially a need to create stable family units for the planned and unplanned creation of children, one can well appreciate why the citizenry would think that a reasonable first concern of any society is the need to regulate male-female relationships and the unique procreative possibilities of them…. People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex. And they may not need the government’s encouragement to propagate the species. But they may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish. It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws (that men and women complement each other biologically), that created the policy imperative. And governments typically are not second-guessed under the Constitution for prioritizing how they tackle such issues.”
  • p. 21: “What we are left with is this: By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring. That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring. That explanation, still relevant today, suffices to allow the States to retain authority over an issue they have regulated from the beginning.”
  • Pronunciation guide: Babione (BABB’-ee-ohn)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

# # # | Ref. 41550