Homosexual activists are hoping a recent Alaska Supreme Court ruling on property exemptions is the beginning of even wider legal recognition and public affirmation of same-sex relationships in Alaska. Homosexual activists have their eye on overturning of the state’s constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in April that because it deems that same-sex couples in Alaska are “similarly situated” as married men and women, they are entitled to the same property tax exemptions the state makes available for married senior citizens and married disabled veterans.
The court ruled that same-sex couples in Alaska are entitled to the same property rights as married couples, despite the fact that same-sex marriage in Alaska is illegal under the Alaska Constitution.
The ruling is the latest in a series of Supreme Court opinions that have eroded legal distinctions between same-sex couples and married men and women in Alaska. Ultimately, homosexual activists aim to establish legally recognized gay “marriage” in the state via the courts.
Less than a month after the April ruling regarding property rights, on May 12, three same-sex couples filed a lawsuit challenging Alaska’s 1998 constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. They claimed that the state’s definition of marriage violates due process and equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Alaska’s definition of marriage dates back to 1998, when Alaska became the first to amend its state constitution and define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But since then the state’s high court has incrementally stripped application of the law. Most notably, in 2005, the court issued a ruling that prohibited Alaska from denying spousal employment benefits to partners of same-sex employees of the state because the court said it would violate same-sex couples’ equal protection under the state constitution due to the fact that they could not legally marry, but were nonetheless “similarly situated” as married couples.
The latest lawsuit which directly challenges the state’s definition of marriage is expected to go all the way to the federal courts if the Alaska Supreme Court upholds the state’s definition of marriage.
In most nations and U.S. states which, over the past 10 years, have permitted same-sex marriage, those couples are allowed to jointly adopt children as well as enjoy inheritance and hospital visitation rights.
The Catholic Church has opposed laws allowing for the joint adoption of children to same-sex couples because it undermines the right of children to be raised by a mother and a father.
Similarly, the church has opposed laws that attempt to ignore the inherent differences between heterosexual marriage and same-sex unions.
The sexual difference in heterosexual marriage “is an irreducible difference,” the U.S. bishops explain on their website. “It is unlike any other difference we experience, because it – and only it – allows for the total personal union between husband and wife that is at the heart of marriage. The difference between men and women is for the sake of their union with each other.”
The bishops add that heterosexual marriage is unique because “Only a man and a woman in marriage can become a “one flesh” communion. The unity of husband and wife is so intimate that from it can come a “third,” the child – a new life to be welcomed and raised in love. No other relationship, no matter how loving or committed, can have this unique form of commitment – communion – that exists in marriage, between a husband and a wife.”
On the question of inheritance and hospital visitation rights, however, the church has not taken a definitive stance. In fact, some prominent Catholic voices have argued that such rights should be afforded same-sex couples, but not because they are in an intimate homosexual relationship, which would serve to both encourage such relationships while also barring the same benefits to those who are not in a homosexual relationship, such as two friends or two siblings.