Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 26, 2013


Host: Ted Simons

Same-Sex Marriage Cases


  • More blockbuster rulings from the United States Supreme Court today. In a ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, the court said that legally-married same sex couples could not be denied federal benefits. In the Proposition 8 case out of California, the court decided that private parties had no legal right to defend the measure, which banned gay marriages. In separate interviews, Jim Campbell of Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a co-counsel on the prop 8 case, and Rebecca Wininger of Equality Arizona, will talk about the rulings.
Guests:
  • Jim Campbell - Alliance Defending Freedom, Lawyer
  • Rebecca Wininger - Equality Arizona
Category: Law   |   Keywords: law, marriage, equality, DOMA, ruling,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The U.S. Supreme Court today decided that legally married same-sex couples cannot be denied federal benefits. And the court essentially threw out a case involving California's proposition 8, which banned gay marriages. The justices ruled in that case that private parties had no legal right to defend the measure. The justices did not rule on the merits of the case, so today's ruling allows same-sex marriages to continue in California. We'll hear from an attorney who helped defend proposition 8, but first we welcome Rebecca Wininger, president of the equality Arizona board of directors. Good to have you here.

Rebecca Wininger: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Your thoughts on today's -- Let's start with the defense of marriage act, DOMA. Your thoughts.

Rebecca Wininger: Both cases were historic decisions for us. It's very nice, because this week is also the 44th anniversary of the stonewall riots and the 10th anniversary of Lawrence versus Texas, the overturning Supreme Court decision that basically overturns the sodomy laws across the United States. For these two cases to fall this week was just a little bit more in LGBT history.

Ted Simons: Were these decisions a surprise?

Rebecca Wininger: No. They weren't. I was a little surprised DOMA, with the oral arguments, that -- I thought it might swing a 6-3 or 7-2, so for it to come to a 5-4 was close. And we were speculating on California, whether they would actually rule or with the questions -- Mostly coming from Justice Kennedy, whether they would actually just vote with no standing, which is when they chose to do.

Ted Simons: I want to start -- Let's go to California's prop 8. A lot of people are confused what the no standing does. It essentially says get this out of here and start over again?

Rebecca Wininger: No. What it does is it vacates -- My understanding is it vacates the ninth court of appeals decision, and takes it back to the district court for their ruling, and the Supreme Court says by that ruling, you basically dismiss the case. So equal marriages in California will be up and going very quickly.

Ted Simons: Get this out of here, period.

Rebecca Wininger: Pretty much.

Ted Simons: OK. Let's get back to defense of marriage act. What does this mean now to Arizona same-sex couples?

Rebecca Wininger: It doesn't mean a thing. People in Arizona woke up this morning as a second class citizen, the rulings came down and tonight we'll go to bed second class citizens. All the DOMA strike-down does is institute federal benefits for those who qualify, and who do have a legal marriage. So, for example, if two men get married in New York, which is legal, and one of them, say is part of the Air Force, and then is stationed in the Luke Air Force base, because of what it is as a federal benefit, those two married men will get federal benefits. But as far as for the just the working class gay people here in Arizona, nothing has changed.

Ted Simons: They get federal benefits as long as they remain on -- Once they leave that base they're back in Arizona. Do they not -- Do Arizona same-sex couples qualify for federal benefits?

Rebecca Wininger: That's what the question is going to become. We have lots of legal scholars on both sides working through the quagmire that's created, but from everything we can tell, it will take some time, but people who have been married legally in other states, they move to a state that doesn't honor that, will still be recognized at the federal level. But when it comes to states' rights, no, you're not.

Ted Simons: If you get married in California, our same-sex couple, you are a married couple and you move to Arizona, federally you're a married couple, statewise, uh-uh.

Rebecca Wininger: That's our understanding.

Ted Simons: OK. Lawsuits -- Equal rights, equal rights for one person in one state as opposed to one person in another, do you see lawsuit action coming out of this?

Rebecca Wininger: That's something we're going to have to look at. We have both our side and our opponents' side have their legal teams that are trying to interpret these courts' decisions and see what lawsuits are in line right now with other challenges. I know there are challenges in Hawaii, in Nevada, which are part of our circuit courts. So those could essentially affect Arizona down the road, but right now we're trying to see what's our best course of action for Arizona, be it judicial, ballot initiative, or be it legislature.

Ted Simons: General questions here, why were today's rulings good for the country?

Rebecca Wininger: You know, I think even when you go back to -- When women were starting to get their rights in voting, it was a push and pull. A lot of people said women still belong in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant so to speak, and it took a while. It was the same way with civil rights. It took a while to build up, and the momentum came across the country, and we shifted into this is the right thing to do. And so I think this is the -- One of the next evolutions in our country for civil rights. It's part of the LGBT community. That's why it was good for us today, that the court was validating what we're seeing in some states the legislature do, some at the balloting and now the courts are doing it, so you're seeing the momentum be consistent and beginning to move across the country.

Ted Simons: Critics are saying the court found no right to same-sex marriage in the constitution with today's rulings. Is that how you see it?

Rebecca Wininger: They didn't find any rights, but they didn't find any right not to have same-sex marriage. I've heard political pundits go back and forth that the DOMA case could be broad because one of the things that they did talk about was the equal protection clause. And if that's the door they've opened for us, then probably by judicial standards, anything could challenge that and potentially win.

Ted Simons: That's what I was asking earlier regarding equal rights from one state to another. It would seem as though there would be court action possible. Again, it's so hard to tell, especially so fresh after the ruling. So for those who are proponents of traditional marriage, they say it protects kids, it's not meant to celebrate romantic relationships, but help society by family structure. How do you respond?

Rebecca Wininger: When you're protecting children that's an insult to all the single parents who are doing a damn good job raising their children by any means necessary. As far as traditional marriage goes, marriage predates most organized religious. If marriage is strictly a religious covenant why is it a mayor and a justice of the peace and a ship's captain can perform a wedding ceremony and I can spend 10 minutes on the internet with $35 and become ordained to perform marriages here in Arizona? And the last couple of weddings I've attend here in Arizona the person performing the marriage still says by the power vested in me by the state of Arizona. Which is a governmental entity. I now pronounce you man and wife. So I think marriage is a term that's kind of been hijacked by religious institutions incorrectly. I would prefer to see the religious institutions use the term "holy matrimony" and leave marriages just for the general purpose.

Ted Simons: We should note today's ruling says nothing about religious organizations and how they choose to see a marriage.

Rebecca Wininger: No. And that is still -- I kind of chuckle every time someone talks about defending churches or religions from not performing same-sex marriages. Because they already have that protection. Catholic churches won't perform a wedding unless you attend their marriage courses. Potentially Orthodox synagogues may not perform a wedding unless both are converted to Judaism. So religious already reserve the right not to perform a same-sex marriage, and that's not what we're trying to do. We're not trying to force any marriage on any religion that you must perform it. All we're saying is, if I am part of a religion or I want to go down to the courthouse to get married, not a civil union, but actually married, I should have the right to do so and be equal with my partner as much as you are with your wife.

Ted Simons: Rebecca, thank you for joining us.

Rebecca Wininger: Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: Joining me now for a different perspective on today's Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage is Jim Campbell of the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom and co-counsel on the legal team defending California's proposition 8. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Campbell: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: Your thoughts on today's rulings, both of them.

Jim Campbell: Well, I think the big take-away from today's rulings is that both in the DOMA case and the proposition 8 case, the Supreme Court affirmed that the people throughout the states around this country have the right to decide the question of marriage for themselves. They have the right to decide and debate the future of marriage and ultimately to determine for themselves what they want marriage to be.

Ted Simons: Were either one of these decisions a surprise to you?

Jim Campbell: There's no way to know what the Supreme Court is going to do. So we didn't really have an expectation one way or another. But we were hopeful the Supreme Court would allow the marriage debate to continue where it belongs, with the people, for them to discuss the truth and the benefits of marriage between a man and a woman, and ultimately to affirm that.

Ted Simons: And as far as Arizona same-sex couples, what does it mean? What do these rulings mean?

Jim Campbell: It doesn't have any immediate impact in terms of the state marriage laws here in Arizona. So the marriage laws of the state of Arizona as defined in the constitution, which the people voted on in 2008, declares that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Ted Simons: OK. What does it mean to Arizona traditional couples? Because I want to get further into this in a minute, because the defense of DOMA has always been that marriage needs to be protected. These rulings today, what happens to traditional marriage?

Jim Campbell: Traditional couples, traditional marriage, again, this issue remains for the people. And this does not affect the state marriage laws around the country.

Ted Simons: It doesn't affect the laws, but what does it mean to the institution?

Jim Campbell: What does it mean to the institution of marriage? That the people can continue to discuss the question. And can continue to debate. What is marriage? What does it mean in our site, what do we want it to be, do we want to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman, do we want to affirm it as an institution that's always existed to bring together men and women to be husband and wife and ultimately to be mothers and fathers to their own children? If that's the purpose of marriage, then the people need to continue to affirm it as the union of a man and a woman.

Ted Simons: You're on the side of saying that is the purpose of marriage.

Jim Campbell: That is the purpose of marriage. That's correct.

Ted Simons: So was this -- The proponents of today's -- Those who support today's rulings say it's a win for equal treatment under the law. You say --

Jim Campbell: We say that the Supreme Court again did not address the matter of what the states can do. So ultimately the states can continue to affirm traditional marriage. And that does not deny equal treatment under the law. Simply recognizing the marriage is a union between a man and a woman, acknowledges the truth there is a basic biological ditch between opposite sex and same-sex couples.

Ted Simons: When it comes to benefits, the court did seem to show an equal treatment -- Consideration here. Did they not?

Jim Campbell: Well, we don't need to redefine the institution of marriage to provide rights and benefits to all unmarried couples, not just same-sex couples. So to focus on that question is really irrelevant when were debating state by state the issue of what marriage is.

Ted Simons: Let's get to some of the argument from those who do support same-sex marriage. They say DOMA treated loving and committed couples as separate and a lesser class of people. Respond, please.

Jim Campbell: Well, the response to that again is what I said before -- It's simply acknowledging that there is a basic biological difference between opposite sex and same-sex couples. Opposite-sex couples can provide children with their own mother and father. Which is the purpose of marriage. Because of the biological difference same-sex couples cannot do that.

Ted Simons: Justice Kennedy commented in his ruling here, commented that DOMA is, quote, humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. How do you respond to that?

Jim Campbell: The response to that is, we don't need to redefine the institution of marriage in order to provide for children being raised by same-sex couples. There's no doubt that children are raised by same-sex couples. And despite their unquestioned efforts, they can never provide a child with a mother and father. So the purpose of marriage is to do just that. And therefore redefining marriage simply doesn't fit within its purpose.

Ted Simons: The idea that couples and families are now getting the respect and protection that they deserve, you're saying yes, but?

Jim Campbell: We're saying that there isn't -- There was no -- There is no disrespect to same-sex couples in acknowledging that marriage is the union of a man and woman. It's simply acknowledging there's a difference between the two. A difference rooted in biology. It simply acknowledges marriage exists to bring together a man and a woman as husband and wife to be a mother and father to any child their union produces.

Ted Simons: I think the other side would suggest that there would be disrespect, and as Justice Kennedy mentioned, humiliation for the children of those kinds of families. There is not a biological man and a biological woman, but they do have two parents and they are being raised in what they consider a loving and stable home. You're saying it can never be as loving and stable?

Jim Campbell: Not what we're saying at all. We're saying that when you look at the purpose of marriage, it's to provide children with their mother and father. Opposite-sex couples can do that, same-sex cannot. It's simply focusing on the purpose of marriage. It's not at all focusing on the respective abilities of opposite-sex couples versus same-sex couples, it's just acknowledging that on the average, when we look at social science, children tend to do best when raised by their own married mother and father.

Ted Simons: What about adopted children?

Jim Campbell: The social science indicates that they perform just a little bit under children that are raised by their own mother and father. So society has a right and an interest in promoting the natural mother and father above all else.

Ted Simons: I want to read quickly a quote from President Obama. His quote was, "when all Americans are treated as equal no matter who they are or whom we love, we are all more free." Respond to that, please.

Jim Campbell: Again -- Affirming marriage as a union of a man and woman is not a denial of equal treatment or equal protection or a denial of fairness. It is simply an acknowledgment of a basic biological difference.

Ted Simons: Can you acknowledge the basic biological difference and still restore the benefits and the things these folks were fighting for?

Jim Campbell: There are mechanisms that the law could provide, aside from redefining marriage, that could provide financial benefits to unmarried couples, including same-sex couples.

Ted Simons: Where do you see this issue going from here? I know you were involved with California's prop 8. What happens over there, what happens in Arizona, what happens to the entire issue?

Jim Campbell: The question will continue to be in the hands of the people. So the people will continue to do what they've been doing over the last decade or two. They will debate the question. They will ask themselves, what is marriage? And if they believe as millennia after millennia has shown us, that marriage exists to bring together men and women as husband and wife, to be a mother and father to any child that their union produces, they will affirm marriage as the union of a man and woman.

Ted Simons: It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Campbell: Thanks for having me.

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