On Tuesday last week, United States District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez (pictured) handed down a ruling in a case upholding Puerto Rico’s law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
This ruling is the top headline of the week’s marriage news.
“Marriage is the fundamental unit of the political order”
The Carter appointee did not fail to acknowledge that his opinion runs contrary to the majority of other Federal courts that have ruled on States’ marriage laws since the Windsor decision by the Supreme Court, that struck down Section III of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
But in acknowledging this, Pérez-Giménez spoke of a “misapprehension that has plagued our sister courts.” Specifically, he said that all of these decisions have blatantly ignored binding Supreme Court precedent from the Baker v. Nelson decision of 1972.
Baker essentially says the U.S. Constitution is silent on the issue of same-sex ‘marriage’—which is a far cry from what activist judges have claimed over the last several months, that same-sex ‘marriage’ is somehow mandated by the 14th amendment!
Pérez-Giménez points out that this absurd claim is distinctly refuted by Baker, and that only the Supreme Court can contradict or overturn Baker, which they have not done. Furthermore, he notes that the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which governs Puerto Rico, explicitly recognized this only just two years ago! It will be interesting to watch this case as it will most surely be appealed to the First Circuit, and to see whether the Judges on that court will have the integrity to bind themselves by their own very recent logic.
Pérez-Giménez describes the “inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance” that seem to have guided other Judges to the conclusion that the Supreme Court, in Windsor, signaled a constitutional demand for marriage to be redefined.
But the real beauty in this judge’s decision is how he links the ideas of marriage and the rule of law itself, and points out that his fellow judges who have acted to redefine marriage have also showed a shameful disregard for the way in which our legal system works.
Allow me to quote at length from his conclusion [emphasis added]:
There are some principles of logic and law that cannot be forgotten.
Recent affirmances of same-gender marriage seem to suffer from a peculiar inability to recall the principles embodied in existing marriage law. Traditional marriage is ‘exclusively [an] opposite-sex institution… inextricably linked to procreation and biological kinship.’ Traditional marriage is the fundamental unit of the political order. And ultimately the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.
Those are the well-tested, well-proven principles on which we have relied for centuries. The question now is whether judicial ‘wisdom’ may contrive methods by which those solid principles can be circumvented or even discarded.
A clear majority of courts have struck down statutes that affirm opposite-gender marriage only. In their ingenuity and imagination they have constructed a seemingly comprehensive legal structure for this new form of marriage. And yet what is lacking and unaccounted for remains: are laws barring polygamy, or, say the marriage of fathers and daughters, now of doubtful validity? Is ‘minimal marriage,’ where ‘individuals have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties’ the blueprint for their design? […] It would seem so, if we follow the plaintiffs’ logic, that the fundamental right to marriage is based on ‘the constitutional liberty to select the partner of one’s choice.’
Of course, it is all too easy to dismiss such concerns as absurd or of a kind with the cruel discrimination and ridicule that has been shown toward people attracted to members of their own sex. But the truth concealed in these concerns goes to the heart of our system of limited, consent-based government: those seeking sweeping change must render reasons justifying the change and articulate the principles that they claim will limit this newly fashioned right.
For now, one basic principle remains: the people, acting through their elected representatives, may legitimately regulate marriage by law.
I encourage you to read the entire decision and to share it with your friends. The clear logic and devotion to the truth, and the dedication to the integrity of our legal system, are a breath of fresh air compared to so many other errant decisions that have been issued over the past few months.
Brian S. Brown is the President of the US National Organisation for Marriage. This article appeared in NOM’s email newsletter of October 25.