KINGSTON, Tenn. — For the first time since the courts began ruling on challenges against state marriage amendments enshrining the institution as being between a man and a woman, a judge in Tennessee has upheld the state’s same-sex “marriage” ban as constitutional.
Roane County Circuit Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr. ruled on a matter surrounding two homosexual men who sought a divorce after tying the knot four years ago in Iowa. He denied the men the divorce as he declined to recognize their relationship under Tennessee law as a marriage.
“The court finds that Tennessee’s laws concerning same-sex marriage do not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution,” Simmons wrote. “There is nothing irrational about limiting the institution of marriage for the purpose for which it was created, by embracing its traditional definition. To conclude otherwise is to impose one’s own view of what a state ought to do on the subject of same-sex marriage.”
“The laws of Iowa concerning same-sex marriage are so diametrically opposed to Tennessee’s laws, and Tennessee’s own legitimate public policy concerning same-sex marriage, that Tennessee is not required by the U.S. Constitution to give full faith and credit to a valid marriage of a same-sex couple in Iowa,” he continued.
While Simmons cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of United States v. Windsor, which struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as being unconstitutional, he said that the ruling only applied to federal matters and did not give an opinion on whether states that outlaw same-sex nuptials must recognize “marriages” allowed in other states.
“The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a state the defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional,” Simmons wrote. “Further, the Supreme Court does not find that one state’s refusal to accept as valid other states’ valid same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. … [T]his question was not an issue in the Windsor case.”
As previously reported, three states whose marriage amendments have been struck down in the courts have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that the rulings be overturned. The attorney generals in Utah and Virginia submitted their appeal last Tuesday and Friday, respectively, with a Christian legal organization filing on behalf of an Oklahoma county clerk on Wednesday.
The briefs submitted to the nine-judge panel largely express concern that amendments approved by voters can be so easily overturned by the courts.
“The 10th Circuit … negated the exercise of this fundamental right [of voting] by more than 1 million Oklahomans and millions of voters in other states,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) wrote on behalf of Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe. “Invalidating the people’s voice on an issue as profound as the definition of marriage presents an important question that warrants this court’s review.”
Many states and colonies passed laws criminalizing homosexual behavior even before the founding of America. William Penn, the founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, wrote in The Great Law in 1682, “And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that if any person shall be legally convicted of the unnatural sin of sodomy or joining with beasts such persons shall be whipped and forfeit one third part of his or her estate and work six months in the house of correction at hard labour, and for the second offense imprisonment as aforesaid during life.”
America’s first president, George Washington, also opposed homosexuality in the military. In 1778, Washington ordered Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin to be drummed out of the camp for “attempting to commit sodomy” with a male soldier.
“His Excellency, the Commander in Chief, approves the sentence, and with abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes, orders Lieut. Enslin to be drummed out of camp tomorrow morning by all the drummers and fifers in the Army never to return; the drummers and fifers to attend on the Grand Parade at guard mounting for that purpose,” read his March 14th proclamation.
Photo: Brian Stansberry