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ADF comment on 1st Circuit's DOMA decision: A bridge too far

“Just Who do We Think We Are?”

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt regarding the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit to declare the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Gill v. Office of Personnel Management:

“Society should protect and strengthen marriage, not undermine it. The federal Defense of Marriage Act provides that type of protection, and we trust the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse the 1st Circuit’s erroneous decision.”

“In allowing one state to hold the federal government, and potentially other states, hostage to redefine marriage, the 1st Circuit attempts a bridge too far. Under this rationale, if just one state decided to accept polygamy, the federal government and perhaps other states would be forced to accept it, too. The federal government had the authority to step in against polygamy at one time in our nation’s history, and it has the authority to step in against this attempt at marriage redefinition as well.”

“Even as President Obama announced his support for changing marriage into something else, he recognized that it was up to the people of each state to decide, just as voters in 31 states have already done in overwhelmingly protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The 1st Circuit’s support of this same principle suggests that it is constitutional for California’s voters to enact Proposition 8--and that all of the other state constitutional amendments and statutes defining marriage as a man and a woman are constitutional as well.”

Additional facts:

  • Marriage has a 15-year record of winning at the ballot box (after the enactment of DOMA in 1996).
  • DOMA was passed by a bi-partisan 84 percent of Congress and signed by President Clinton.
  • DOMA is not inconsistent with federalism. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over a number of matters, including the more than 1,100 places where marriage impacts federal law.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.
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