by Nathan A. Cherry
A disturbing trend is taking place across the nation regarding marriage laws. We are seeing more frequently a refusal on the part of elected officials to defend marriage laws, even those put in place as a result of a vote of the people. Working from where we are right now, backwards, the troubling trend has a specific starting point.
Just last week the newly elected attorney general of Virginia said he would not uphold his state’s ban on same-sex “marriage.” Mark Herring said he “cannot and will not” defend a law that he believes is unconstitutional. Virginia’s ban on same-sex “marriage” is set to be challenged in court very soon by tow homosexual couples. So this decision by Herring is timely and will require legal scrambling on the part of the state.
Kathleen Kane, attorney general for the state of Pennsylvania, announced in July of 2013 that she would not defend the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage” when it was challenged in court as well. Kane said she cannot uphold any laws that she feels violate the Pennsylvania or U.S. Constitutions. Kane was named in a lawsuit by homosexual couples suing the state over the ban before she announced her decision not to take the case and uphold the law.
The trend of elected officials refusing to uphold the duties of their office and defend the laws of their state is troubling. If these attorney generals believe they are justified in refusing to uphold one law, what stops them from refusing to uphold others? What if an attorney general simply “cannot and will not” uphold the right to bear arms (2nd amendment) in his or her state? What if another attorney general decides she “cannot and will not” uphold a ban on partial birth abortion?
The actions of these attorney’s general is exactly why we have a constitution. Our laws are not arbitrary and at the discretion of whoever is in an elected position. Elected officials don’t get to simply decide which laws they will and will not uphold. That is the very definition of anarchy and tyranny.
In December of last year a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex “marriage.” Here, a federal judge took it upon himself to subvert the will of the people and decide for the entire state what the law should be. After appealing to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, a stay was finally granted by the Supreme Court until after the appeals process. In the mean-time many homosexual couples that got “married” are now in “legal limbo” thanks to an activist judges’ decision to take the law into his own hands.
Not to be outdone by Utah, a federal judge in Oklahoma struck down the ban on same-sex “marriage” in the “buckle of the Bible belt.” In his decision, Judge Terence Kern showed his lack of understanding of what marriage is in saying the ban was “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.”
This also shows the goal of progressive liberals in redefining marriage. Removing the inherent religious nature of marriage as an intuition created and ordained by God, they desire to reduce it to “a governmental benefit” that can be regulated and granted by the federal government. This goal will ultimately culminate in the mandate that churches marry anyone, including homosexuals, polyamorists, and polygamists, or face persecution from the federal government in the form of rejecting their tax exempt status, fines, and bad publicity via a complicit media.
In the Utah and Oklahoma cases both attorney generals have blasted the federal judge’s decision and vowed to continue supporting the voter approved bans on same-sex “marriage.” In my home state of West Virginia a challenge to our DOMA law is pending in federal court but our attorney general has vowed to continue defending that law. Whether these attorneys general do so because of political persuasion or not, should they decide to abandon defending the laws of their states the outcome would be obvious.
But this disturbing trend of elected officials taking the law into their own hands and deciding which laws they will and will not defend can be traced back to a single point in time. In early 2011 President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said they would no longer defend the U.S. DOMA law passed in 1996. They called the law, signed by President Bill Clinton, unconstitutional and refused to defend it in court any longer. Eric Holder said:
“The President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law,” the section of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as only a union between a man and a woman “is unconstitutional.”
Here is the President of the United States of America and his top legal appointee refusing to defend the law of our country. Obama took the law into his own hands and decided he would ignore the constitution and his sworn duty to defend our laws and refuse to defend DOMA. With this kind of lawless behavior on the part of our president is it any wonder that others across the country feel justified in following their example?
The reasoning behind the actions of every one of these elected officials is the same. They believe laws against same-sex “marriage” are unconstitutional and violate any number of amendments. They use this reasoning to justify their actions and strike down laws, or refuse to defend them, rather than following the legal process. This action is blatantly anarchist and tyrannical.
Logically we have to ask what if every judge and attorney general in every state did the same thing. The outcome would be pure chaos and no one would have a clue as to what the law really was. Then again, could that be the point? Is it possible the Obama administration, in its efforts to circumvent Congress and the legal process is seeking to create confusion across the country that allows it to impose sweeping changes to federal laws without anyone noticing?
The confusion caused by ObamaCare by changing the law (which is unconstitutional for the president to do) randomly has created mass confusion at a state level concerning how the healthcare law is to be rolled out and implemented. While this might appear to be unintentional absurdity, could it actually be a microcosm of what Obama is trying to do on a larger national scale?
The fact remains that we are a nation of laws. Just because someone is elected to office does not give them the right or the power to determine which laws they will and will not defend and abide by. The actions by the president, federal judges, and attorney’s general are troubling. They show a disregard for the constitution and the will of the people. There is no doubt that the government would react very differently if ordinary citizens started behaving in the same way, choosing which laws we will and will not abide by. The government would come at us with the “force of law” and demand we “abide by the laws of the land.”
So why do these same principles not apply for elected officials?