The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said Nov. 15 that the arguments -- which pertain to California Proposition 8 and which could impact marriage laws in every state -- will begin at 10 a.m. Pacific and will last two hours. There will be a short recess after the first hour.
A lower court struck down Prop 8 earlier this year, but the Ninth Circuit put a stay on that ruling and agreed to hear the case, which eventually could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The first hour of arguments will focus on whether ProtectMarriage.com -- which sponsored Prop 8 -- has standing to defend the law and whether Imperial County, Calif., should be able to intervene. Imperial County supports Prop 8 and intervened after it became obvious the state of California -- led by Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown -- would not defend Prop 8.
The second hour of arguments will focus on the constitutional question as to whether Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.
California voters passed Prop 8 in 2008 by a margin of 52-48 percent, and opponents of Prop 8 filed suit against it in 2009. California is one of 29 states that have passed constitutional amendments explicitly defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Another 16 states define marriage in state statutes. Only five states recognize "gay marriage."
The makeup of the Ninth Circuit panel -- which could prove crucial -- has yet to be announced.
The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
MARRIAGE ON THE DECLINE? -- Marriage may be less popular now than it was three decades ago, but the end of marriage is not on the horizon, as some media analysts have suggested.
USA Today and several other prominent media outlets reported data from a Pew Research Center study that showed 39 percent of American adults agree with the statement that "marriage is becoming obsolete" -- up from 28 percent in 1978 when Time magazine asked the question. The USA Today story ran under the headline, "We're just not that into marriage."
Additional data showed that 52 percent of adults were married in 2008, a drop from 72 percent in 1960. At the same time, cohabitation is on the rise: 44 percent of adults say they've lived together in an unmarried relationship, nearly double since 1990, according to Census data.
Yet the data contained some good news for marriage: 84 percent of those who are married say they are "very happy" with their family life, compared to 71 percent who cohabitate and 66 percent who are single. Also, 67 percent of adults are optimistic about the future of marriage and the family, a percentage higher than optimism about foreign policy, education and the economy.
"According to the study, only five percent of Americans under age 30 do not plan on marrying," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement. "This doesn't sound like 'the end of marriage,' as some are claiming the survey indicates.
"There's certainly reason for concern about some trends -- such as the increase in the percentage of births that occur out of wedlock from five percent in 1960 to 41 percent in 2008. At the same time, some interpretations of the data expressed in the media are distorted. A decline in the percentage of adults who are married is largely because people delay marriage, not because young men and women are foregoing marriage completely.
"The research is still clear -- married husbands and wives, and their children, are happier, healthier, and more prosperous than people in any other household setting," Perkins said.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.
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