By Joshua Baker & William C. Duncan, Legal Analysts

This article was first published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy in their January 2011 edition.

The majority of courts to consider the issue, as well as the majority of people voting on it, have rejected a right to same-sex marriage. Over the past decade, the overwhelming majority of Americans who have been able to vote on the definition of marriage have soundly rejected the idea that same sex marriage is a civil right. Thirty states have have enacted amendments to their constitutions defining marriage as the union of a husband and wife. In Maine, voters rejected a state law that redefined marriage, and in Iowa, voters defeated all of the three judges up for retention who had voted in favor of same sex marriage. (more…)


by William C. Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, and a Ruth Institute Board Member.

Each November, our family puts up a blank poster board on which each member of the family can list the things they are grateful for. The list ranges from the confident handwriting of my wife to the shakier marks of the younger children who are tracing something written by an older sibling or parent (mine is closer to the latter). I have not see the phrase “lifelong love” on that poster, but it is always implicit—when “mom and dad” are listed or when my wife and I write each other’s names or when the brothers and sisters list each other. Our family is thankful for lifelong love. (more…)


by Ruth Institute board member William C. Duncan

While the United States is occupied with the federal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, Canada has its own pending marriage case, which is likely headed for the Canadian Supreme Court. Canada, which redefined marriage nationwide to include same-sex couples in 2005, against the backdrop of successful provincial lawsuits against the country’s marriage law, could be moving on to bigger things — literally. Specifically, polygamy and polyamory, as this case invokes the question of whether the government can continue to criminalize multiple-partner marriages. The case itself, initiated by the British Columbia Attorney General under a special provision of that Province’s law, arises in the wake of failed prosecutions of polygamous sect members in British Columbia. (more…)

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by William C. Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation and Ruth Institute Board Member

A review of the book “When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage” by M. V. Lee Badgett. This article originally appeared in the Spring 2010 edition of The Family in America.

In 2001, The Netherlands became the first nation in the world to legally and fully redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. The experience of the Dutch with same-sex marriage would, therefore, seem to offer a case study for examining the effects of this most novel of social experiments. This, at least, is the premise of When Gay People Get Married by M. V. Lee Badgett, an economist at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and the research director of the Williams Institute, a “sexual orientation law and public policy” think tank at UCLA. The subtitle frames a very relevant question: “What happens when societies legalize same-sex marriage?” (more…)


by William C. Duncan

This article was published as an exclusive work for the Ruth Institute newsletter published March 30, 2010.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently issued an opinion ordering the State of Louisiana to issue an amended birth certificate for a child born in Louisiana but listing as the child’s parents two men. The child had been adopted by a male couple in New York. The court believed this result was mandated by the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. The bad news is that I believe the Fifth Circuit panel was mistaken in this case, called Adar v Smith.  Not long after the decision was released, the State of Louisiana announced it would seek a rehearing from all of the judges on the Fifth Circuit. The good news is that this petition provides an opportunity for the entire Circuit to provide a more child-friendly ruling, and remedy major defects in the panel’s decision. (more…)

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