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Reynolds vs. Minister (Interior)
Court Constitutional Court
Full case name Reynolds vs. Minister (Interior, 09-2005 CC
Date decided 17 April 2005
Judge(s) sitting Allen Howsham CJ, J , J , J , and J
Case history
Prior action(s) SI Provincial Court (2003)
Court of Appeal (2004)
Supreme Court (2004)
Keywords
Homosexual marriages/activities

Reynolds vs. Minister (Interior) was a controversial case decision by the Constitutional Court of Washingtonia regarding the validity of homosexual marriage within the Kingdom. The case was first opened in the South Island Provincial Court in July of 2003, and ended up in the Constitutional Court in 2005, with the judgment taking place on 17 April of the same year.

Background

The plaintiff, Sarah Reynolds, concluded a homosexual marriage in late 2002 which the Ministry of the Interior refused to recognize, citing that the Marriages Act of 1959 applied only to heterosexuals. Reynolds approached FEDERAL Washingtonia for legal assistance and after several months of attempting to force the Ministry to recognize the marriage, finally instituted the action in the South Island Provincial Court in Dandridge on 21 July 2003.

The Provincial Court found in favor of Reynolds, stating that wording of the Marriages Act was grounded in custom and that the intention of the Act is not to disallow same sex couples the ability to marry. The Minister of the Interior appealed. The Court of Appeal also found in favor of Reynolds, holding that a homosexual marriage was also liberty under Section 1 of the Bill of Rights (Chapter 2 of the Constitution). The Minister again appealed to the Supreme Court, which found in favor of the defendant, holding that it "goes against national morals" (in terms of the 'national interest' provision of Section 1) to allow such marriages.

Constitutional Court

Reynolds finally brought the matter to the Constitutional Court in 2005 after the failed Supreme Court case. The Court upheld the Supreme Court's ruling, however added that the "national morals" defense was irrelevant. Chief Justice Howsham specifically stated that homosexual activities (not only marriages) violated Section 2 of Chapter 1 of the Constitution (the basic provisions), as it (within the interpretation of the Court) goes against the teachings in the Bible.

Selected judgment extracts

Howsham CJ

[78] I must however respectfully disagree with my honorable colleagues below in this instance. While correct in saying the national morals are violated by and through homosexual activities and by extension marriage - that being, the national interest clause embedded in Section 1 of Chapter 2 - this was a matter too far for the Supreme Court to decide upon. In any instance of constitutional interpretation, the point of departure must always be in Chapter 1; the basic provisions.

...

[81] From Section 2 of Chapter 1, it is clear that the "God of the Christian Religion" is regarded as the sovereign of Washingtonia. While not stated explicitly, the intention of the Constitutional Assembly here was made apparent through this Court in the case of The Throne vs. Hayburn, 03-1914 CC at [33]. My honorable predecessor, Weral CJ stated that "from the minutes of the deliberations in the Constitutional Assembly chamber, now particularly Exhibits 16 and 17, it is clear that the legislature intended the Holy Bible to be incorporated by reference into the Constitution." I move now to consider the late Chief Justice's ratio as to the aforementioned.

...

[94] It is therefore clear that the provision (Section 2 of Chapter 1) extends the moral teachings of the Holy Bible to the Washingtonian law, at least to the extent that it is practical to be enforced and balanced with democratic concerns. Homosexual activity, and by extension marriage, does not simply violate the boni mores, but also a basic pillar of our constitutional order. The appeal is therefore dismissed and the ruling of the Supreme Court upheld.


Subsequent events

The Grand Assembly amended the Marriages Act a few weeks after the ruling, and included that homosexual activities are illegal and punishable by a fine or community service. The Penal Code was as a matter of procedure thereafter amended to include homosexual activities (class E) and "homosexual sexual assault" (class C).

The Court decision was met with international condemnation as well as local protests. The Christian Libertarian Party along with other civil society groups staged street protests asking the Court to overturn its decision or for the Grand Assembly to amend the Marriages Act to allow specifically for same sex marriages. Although much of Washingtonia's civil society remains vocal about the case to this day, it has not been reversed.

See also

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