Washington D.C., Aug 21, 2014 / 10:11 am
The U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on same-sex "marriage" licenses in Virginia on Wednesday after a federal appeals court struck down the state's marriage defense amendment in July.
"The Supreme Court acted wisely in restraining the lower court from implementing a ruling of this magnitude before the high court has a chance to decide the issue," stated Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Byron Babione. The group represented the defense of the marriage amendment in court.
After the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the amendment and refused to grant a stay on the issuing of same-sex "marriage" licenses in the state, the Prince William County Clerk petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on the decision. The licenses could have been granted as soon as Thursday morning.
The current state amendment defines marriage as between a man and a woman and forbids the state from creating any other union that "approximates" marriage or that has "rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects" of marriage. It passed with 57 percent of the vote in 2006.
"Virginians deserve an orderly and fair resolution to the question of whether they will remain free to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws," Babione said. "The Supreme Court is making clear, as it already did in the Utah marriage case, that it believes a dignified process is better than disorder."
Other supporters of the state's marriage amendment were pleased with the decision. The Virginia Catholic Conference, which had filed an amicus brief in the case, said the court showed it was "consistent."
"It's consistent with the way the Utah case was handled, and it also certainly promotes an orderly resolution of the issue and avoids the uncertainty that would have resulted if same-sex couples had been allowed to start obtaining marriage licenses tomorrow," executive director Jeff Caruso told CNA.
The National Organization for Marriage also weighed in with praise. "This is another indication that the rush to judgment declaring marriage to be unconstitutional is not only premature, but incorrect," president Brian Brown stated.
The author of the marriage amendment, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, also supported the court's decision.
"The refusal of the Supreme Court to be pressured by the Fourth Circuit judges into a decision that would make it difficult for them to uphold the Virginia Marriage Amendment approved by 1.3 million Virginians is to be commended," he stated.
Marshall said the decision underlines how "arrogant" the appeals court justices were in their "bizarre" ruling.
"They didn't cite anything, they didn't define marriage, they didn't go through the history of the Fourteenth Amendment," he said of the justices. "That's why I said it was arrogant hubris for them to do that."
The supporters voiced hope that the Supreme Court will take up the case.
"Hopefully in the end the U.S. Supreme Court will recognize that states have the proper authority to define marriage and to affirm the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman," Caruso said.
"We look forward to the US Supreme Court taking one or more of the three marriage cases now pending before them, and ultimately ruling that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is entirely constitutional," Brown stated.