California Federal Court Dismisses Challenge to Federal Defense of Marriage Act
ORANGE COUNTY, CA – During a recent court hearing, federal district court Judge David O. Carter announced that he is dismissing a last-ditch effort by "same-sex marriage" proponents to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The case is Smelt v. Orange County, and it is one of the last remaining challenges to DOMA. Liberty Counsel intervened in this case on behalf of Campaign for California Families in 2004, in order to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to defend DOMA.
The federal DOMA allows states to reject same-sex marriages from other states. The case began in 2004, when the same-sex marriage advocates claimed a right to same-sex marriage under the state and federal constitutions and also claimed that the DOMA was unconstitutional. The challenge to DOMA in this case was bizarre, because the statute only applies when one state refuses to accept the validity of an out-of-state, same-sex union. In Smelt, the same-sex pair who challenged DOMA had no legal, same-sex union from any state. In 2005, federal district court Judge Gary Taylor ruled that there was no fundamental right to same-sex marriage, and, since the plaintiffs had no legal same-sex union from any state, they could not challenge DOMA. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this ruling in 2006, dismissing the challenge. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
The case remained in suspension, pending resolution by the California Supreme Court regarding whether the state’s Proposition 22, which protected legitimate marriage, was constitutional. Following the ruling by the California Supreme Court on May 15, 2008, the plaintiffs in Smelt continued to press their case against the federal DOMA. However, Judge Carter has now dismissed both state law and DOMA claims.
Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, stated, "We are pleased that the federal Defense of Marriage Act still survives, but we cannot continue to hold our breath each time a judge considers the federal law. We are talking about marriage – the very foundation of society. We must have a permanent solution to protect traditional marriage. We must pass more state constitutional protections, and we must emblazon traditional marriage into the United States Constitution to stop activist judges from redefining marriage with a stroke of a pen."?
(Printed with permission of Liberty Counsel.)
Return to Current Edition