Representative LaVar Christensen (Republican – Draper) often says that he holds the United States Constitution near and dear to his heart and lawmakers should always keep the document at the forefront of their mind when drafting and passing bills.
Christensen is also a lawyer when not representing the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley so we can presume that he understands the role of the courts in the interpretation of law.
But Christensen, it appears, only agrees with the Constitution and the law when it does what he wants – the moment the law enforces something that he opposes, well, forget that founding document, it is time to forge a new path.
[pullquote]For someone who claims to love the Constitution so much, Representative LaVar Christensen (Republican – Draper) sure doesn’t seem to know how it works.[/pullquote]It is that in mind that we turn to HB 393 – Sovereign Marriage Authority.
The bill is a short one and borders on segregationist thinking. Christensen, in HB 393, states that “The state of Utah holds and reserves the sovereign right to decide all matters constituting and relating to its domestic relations laws and public policies.” In short, the state can ignore any federal mandate regarding what types of marriages are allowed under the law (read: same-sex marriage).
The bill continues: “The United States Constitution does not delegate any authority to the federal government of the United States on the subject of marriage and divorce.” Christensen, of course, is referring to the Obergefell v. Hodges case decided by the Supreme Court last year.
Christensen, lover of the Constitution and the law that he is, seems to have forgotten that the Supreme Court’s has power over “all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States” – according to Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution that is, and that same judicial review extends to state laws – at least if we don’t want to throw out 200 years of legal precedence that is.
The bill persists: “If, and to the extent, judicial decisions require action that is contrary to or inconsistent with the democratic process and the state’s time honored and enduring sovereign marriage authority, such decisions shall be narrowly construed and applied.”
Christensen is echoing the classic mantra that activist judges are overturning the will of the people – forgetting that the founders purposefully set the judiciary up to be as far removed from the passions of a democracy as possible. The petulant child that he his, Christensen appears to want to take his ball and go home – stating that if the state has to marry people because of a judicial decision, they will only give minimum lip service to the types of marriages the state doesn’t like. In short, the state would say “everyone can get married under the law, but we will only extend the legal privileges of marriage to the types of marriages we like.”
In other words, the benefits from marriage will be separate and unequal.
How do we know this? Well, the last lines of the bill state that, if the state is forced to marry everyone legally, a judicial decision wouldn’t “compel or require changes in other areas of the law including child welfare and adoption. A child has a protected right to be reared by the child’s natural parents as recognized.”
This, again, says that the state will marry you, but we don’t have to change other laws such as adoption rights. If allowed, this provision could naturally be extended to exclude lower caste marriages from having traditional marriage rights such as making medical decisions, gaining property rights, additional tax benefits, domestic violence protections, child support, joint insurance, credit protections, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Why? Because Christensen knows better than the Supreme Court on this one.
In case you were wondering, the line regarding adoption comes from Christensen’s childish and rude behavior in committee last week when he actively prevented Representative Angela Romero (Democrat – Salt Lake City) from passing out HB 234 – Adoptive and Foster Parents Amendments, a bill that would clarify that, indeed, married same-sex couples could adopt and foster children because they were foolish enough to think that their marriage had equal legal weight under the laws of the state and nation.
Christensen is attempting to argue that the 10th Amendment, which specifies that the powers not expressly given to the federal government are reserved to the states, trumps the Supreme Court. This is a laughable attempt to defend his position and hide the fact that he is very clearly trampling over citizens 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.
At the time of publication, this bill was so fresh that it had not yet received a Constitutional note, which is used to alert lawmakers that a bill may be found in violation of the Constitution. No doubt this note will be far longer than the bill itself and should serve as a harsh warning that passage of this bill will cost the state real money in undefendable lawsuits. It is bad enough that Christensen has already put the state at severe risk of an unwinnable lawsuit by stifling HB 234, he doesn’t need to ensure it by trying to pass HB 393.
We get it, Representative, you don’t like gay marriage – no need to drag Utah through the mud.
To contact Representative Christensen, Click Here or call 801-808-5105 (Cell).
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