Same Sex Marriage
The Unholy Battle Over Matrimony
By: Candace Chellew
There are names synonymous with the struggle for gay and lesbian civil
rights: Stonewall, Bowers v. Hardwick, Baehr vs. Lewin.
Baehr v. Lewin? That's the lawsuit in Hawaii that started this recent push
for same-sex marriage. In 1993, that state's Supreme Court ruled in that
unless the government could show a "compelling interest" to block
same-sex marriage, denying that civil procedure to gay and lesbian couples
would constitute discrimination.
Reaction to the prospect of legal same-sex marriage has brought a flurry
of actions. Thirty-four state legislatures have taken up bills attacking
same-sex marriage. Twelve states have passed those measures into law. The
bills have been defeated, withdrawn or killed in 17 states, and measures
are still pending in six more.
In addition, three Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to keep
same-sex marriage from becoming legal whatever the outcome of the Hawaii
The "Defense of Marriage Act," drafted with the help of Traditional
Values Coalition leader Lou Sheldon, would outlaw any future gay marriages
by defining marriage as a "legal union between one man and one woman"
in federal law. That would give states the authority to reject the legality
of same-sex marriages performed in any other state. Aides to President Clinton
say he'll likely sign the bill if it is passed. (Which of course, he later
On Aug. 1, the attorney general's office will try to persuade a Hawaiian
state circuit court judge to limit marriage to a man and woman. Their case
will be based in part on the argument that society
has an interest in encouraging procreation and stable child-rearing. But
"compelling interest" is a demanding legal standard, and most
legal scholars believe the state is going to lose.
No matter what the outcome of the case, the issue is far from settled and
will most likely end up in front of the Supreme Court.