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Seafaring Confederation vs. Christen für Traditionelle Ehe
Court Supreme Court of the Seafaring Confederation
Full case name Attorney-General of the Seafaring Confederation, in Her Power to Represent the Seafaring Confederation, Defendant, versus Christen für Traditionelle Ehe, in Their Power to Challenge Statute 1 of the Law of German Lower Saxony on Marriage, Plaintiff
Date decided 17 September 2001
Transcript(s) The Majority Opinion.
Judges sitting Full court
Decision by Lies van Houten, Baroness van Houten of Enschede, Chief Justice
Concurring Fredrik Rønne Læså, Baron Rønne Læså of the United Duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Jutland, Fríða Pállsdóttir, Baroness Pállsdóttir of the Faroe Islands
Dissenting Seòbhainn Angus, Baron Angus of Inbhir Nis for the Highlands, (separate) Úilla na gCarra, Baroness Na gCarra of Líchthiach Thiair, in Her Capacity for the Supreme Court
Case history
Prior action(s) Same-sex marriage declared constitutional (Confederate District Court of Landkreis Heidekreis) (Confederate Appellate Court of the Second Circuit of the State of German Lower Saxony) (affirmed) (Confederate Appellate Court of the State of German Lower Saxony) (affirmed) (Confederate Federal Appellate Court of the Federation of the United States of Saxony) (affirmed)
Appealed from Confederate Federate Appellate Court of the Federation of the United States of Saxony
Appealed to Supreme Court of the Seafaring Confederation
Subsequent action(s) Same-sex marriage legal throughout the Confederation
Seafaring Confederation vs. Christen für Traditionelle Ehe 23110 999 (2001) (13 September) 78662 1299 was a landmark court case which was ruled upon by the Supreme Court of the Seafaring Confederation and legalized same-sex marriage throughout the Seafaring Confederation.

The lawsuit was initially started by the anti-same-sex marriage group Christen für Traditionelle Ehe against the State of German Lower Saxony, arguing that the state's legalization of same-sex marriage in September 1999 was unconstitutional as it went against "the natural order wherein procreation and security for the children stand central, and where God in his almighty knowledge prevents the people from sodomy". The group is known as being firmly anti-gay and highly religious, instigating attempts to illegalize sodomy and homosexuality, these attempts so far always having been in vain.

The lawsuit was filed in the Confederate District Court of Landkreis Heidekreis, where it was initially known as Christen für Traditionelle Ehe gg. Staat Neddersassen (Eidgenössisch). The plaintiffs argued that marriage was described as only being between a man and a woman, that marriage was to insure procreation, and that children could only be brought up safely when they had both a father a mother, not a mother and a mother or a father and a father. They also argued that the implementation of same-sex marriage had happened undemocratically according to Civil Code 2 S.N.S. §7. The defendants argued that same-sex marriage was actually to ensure a safe family environment for children, and that it was both an economical and a social improvement for those that it affected. They also argued that the democratic process had been adhered to because in order for Civil Code 2 S.N.S. §7 to take effect, enough signatures must be provided, which there were not.

The District Court ruled that same-sex marriage was indeed constitutional. This was appealed to the Confederate Appellate Court of the Second Circuit of the State of German Lower Saxony in Saxony and after that to the Confederate Appellate Court of the State of German Lower Saxony in Saxony, which both upheld it, thus effectively keeping same-sex marriage legal.

Appeals then went on to the Confederate Federal Appellate Court of the Federation of the United States of Saxony in the Seafaring Confederation, where the case became known as Sassen gg. Christen für Traditionelle Ehe 23110 999 (2000) (20 Dezember). This court ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutional and that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the entirety of Saxony. This ruling was stayed pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of the Seafaring Confederation struck down all same-sex marriage bans in the Seafaring Confederation on September 17, 2001.

Background

In September 1999, the Legislative Council of the State of German Lower Saxony and the Senate of the State of German Lower Saxony passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in that state. Earlier attempts to legalize same-sex marriage were met with opposition from mainly Catholic religious institutions and organizations, which tried to stall the legislation and to call for a referendum. Both of these actions were ignored because of insufficient support for these religious organizations, and the legislation was passed. This caused the religious organization Christen für Traditionelle Ehe to file a lawsuit in the Confederate Judicial Circuit of the Seafaring Confederation against the State of German Lower Saxony.

District Court

The lawsuit was filed in the District Court of Landkreis Heidekreis on 1 October 1999. Oral arguments were heard on 20 October 1999.

Christen für Traditionelle Ehe argued that marriage existed to promote procreation, that having two fathers and two mothers rather than a father and a mother would have a negative effect on the well-being of a child, and that the Bible, and by extent, God, described marriage as only between a man and a woman, arguing in addition to this that marriage had always been between a man and a woman as an institutional tradition.

They also argued that the State demeaned the constitutionally required democratic process for not calling a referendum for a matter of such spiritual and ideological importance.

The Attorney-General of the State of German Lower Saxony, at that time Günther Geber, argued on behalf of the state that marriage was not meant for procreation alone, that same-sex marriage actually was to the benefit of the child as it equalized their parents with the rest of the people, and that any religious beliefs did not have standing in civil legislation. He also argued that for a referendum to be called, at least half of both Houses of Parliament of the Parliament of the State of German Lower Saxony would have to agree to it, or at least 20,000 signatures would have to be collected. He argued that because Christen für Traditionelle Ehe and other religious institutions against same-sex marriage had not been able to provide enough signatures (they barely reached 3,000), a referendum could not be called.

On 14 November, 1999, District Court Judge Justice Hannah L. Föör ruled in favour of the State, keeping that the legalization of same-sex marriage was constitutional.

She ruled on the procreation argument that:

[S]ame-sex marriage cannot be banned or illegalized simply because two people of the same gender cannot procreate. If I were to rule that [procreation is a requirement for marriage] then I would have to strike down laws that ensure that elderly people can get married, or that infertile people can get married. I cannot instate bans on those [kinds of marriages] because such a ban would violate the Second Article of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation. In the same way, I cannot ban same-sex marriage, as such a ban would violate the Constitution.

She ruled on the child well-being argument that:

A child can as easily be raised by two people of the same gender as it can be raised by two people of different genders, or, for that matter, by only one parent. To say that two parents of the same gender will be more harmful to a child than having only one parent is absurd. If I were to protect children in the manner that the plaintiffs specify in their argumentation, then I would have to outlaw dying for married parents. I cannot outlaw dying. I will also not outlaw two people of the same gender marrying because it would negatively affect a child, for it is obvious that two parents of the same gender is equally desirable for a child as that two parents of the opposite gender [would be]. Moreover, two parents is generally better than having only one parent. Thus the argument that same-sex marriage is bad for children is rejected.

She also ruled that:

[I]t is in the interest of the child that (s)he has a home with a loving family. Whether that family is opposite-sex or same-sex should not have any influence on the child's well-being.

She ruled on the argument that the Bible described it as between a man and a woman that:

[The plaintiffs], in their perceived knowledge of legal matters in the Seafaring Confederation, should be aware that there is a separation between religious institutions and State under Article 6 (Religious freedom) of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation. Therefore, arguing that a civil institution should be dictated by what is described in one's religious beliefs would be unconstitutional.

She ruled on the matter of democratic process that:

[The plaintiffs] cannot provide evidence nor proof that they had enough signatures to call for a referendum.

She concluded that:

[There is] no proof whatsoever that the existence of same-sex marriage would be harmful to anybody outside of those same-sex couples married. On the contrary, the implementation of same-sex marriage can only have a positive effect. IT IS THUS ORDERED that same-sex marriage, as implemented in the State of German Lower Saxony in the Federation of the United States of Saxony in the Seafaring Confederation, is constitutional. IT IS THUS ORDERED that the defendants are victorious in this lawsuit. IT IS SO ORDERED.

Circuit Court of Appeals

Christen für Traditionelle Ehe appealed the decision to the Confederate Appellate Court of the Second Circuit of German Lower Saxony in Saxony. This Court issued 3 of its judges to form a panel to hear the case. On 15 December 1999, the panel heard oral arguments, which were the same as were given in the District Court. The panel then adjourned without giving a date on which they would rule.

On 19 December 1999, a mere four days later, the panel on behalf of the Court provided a one-sentence ruling affirming the lower Court's judgment, saying:

We the Confederate Appellate Court of the Second Circuit of the State of German Lower Saxony in Saxony in our power and ability provided to us by the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation rule unanimously that same-sex marriage is constitutional and affirm the Confederate District Court of Landkreis Heidekreis' judgment of the matter's constitutionality.

This statement got the attention of many legal analysts, as its wording indicated that any ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional since same-sex marriage itself was constitutional, which would prove to pave the way for Confederation-wide legalization of same-sex marriage. At this point the case started to receive national media attention in Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein-Jutland.

State Court of Appeals

Christen für Traditionelle Ehe appealed the decision to the Confederate Appellate Court of the State of German Lower Saxony in Saxony, which issued a panel of 9 judges to make a decision on the case. Oral arguments were heard on 2 February 2000. Again the same arguments were provided.

On 12 April, the Court issued a judgment upholding the lower Courts' judgments with a 7-2 majority. The majority opinion was written by The Rt Hon. Justice Lauren Ebenhardt, the dissent was from The Rt Hon. Justice Alexander Daurr, with which The Rt Hon. Justice Herman Hörderman joined. It was noted that the dissent came from the only two men on the panel.

The majority opinion read:

We the Court hold that same-sex marriage is indeed constitutional. We also rule that any bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. We cannot see any negative impact that the implementation of same-sex marriage can have, as it would only enhance and improve the situation for children of same-sex couples, and it would certainly be for the best of both parties in the same-sex marriage to be able to bring their love to an even higher state under the Law.

It went on to note that denying a governmentally regulated institution to people based on their gender or sexual orientation went against Article 2 (Non-discrimination) of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation.

The dissent acknowledged that the arguments for the interests of children were of note:

The State should have a legitimate interest in the well-being of children. If there is a possibility that the implementation of same-sex marriage would have negative effects on a child, then we should not implement it for at least the time that it can be proven that it is not harmful.

General response to the majority opinion was that it was well-founded. Dissents were generally met with criticism that the judges would not have scrutinized the proof that was given to them, with several claims also stating that their decision was based on a religious conviction (both were practising Catholics).

National Court of Appeals

Christen für Traditionelle Ehe appealed the decision to the Confederate Federal Appellate Court of the Federation of the United States of Saxony. At this point, the case had received media attention not only in Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein-Jutland but also in the rest of the Confederation and even outside of it. The Court issued a 9-judge panel to issue a judgment on the case. Oral arguments were heard on 29 August, 2000.

On 13 November, 2000, the Court issued a one-sentence ruling upholding the judgments of the lower Courts, reading:

We the Confederate Federal Appellate Court of the Federation of the United States of Saxony in the Seafaring Confederation in our power and ability provided to us by the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation rule unanimously that same-sex marriage is constitutional and affirm the Confederate District Court of Landkreis Heidekreis', the Confederate Appellate Court of the Second Circuit of the State of German Lower Saxony in Saxony's and the Confederate Appellate Court of the State of German Lower Saxony in Saxony's judgments of the matter's constitutionality.

This ruling meant that same-sex marriage was implemented in the remaining two States that had not implemented it yet, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony-State. Though met with positivity, the ruling was stayed as it was appealed by Christen für Traditionelle Ehe. This meant that the implementation would have to wait for the remaining two States.

Supreme Court

On 2 September, 2000, the Supreme Court accepted the appeal. Oral arguments were set and held on January 12, 2001.

At this point, the House of Representatives of the Seafaring Confederation and the High Council of the Seafaring Confederation, in cooperation with the Leaders, had started the legislative process to legalize same-sex marriage. It was decided by the majority of the judges that same-sex marriage was in fact constitutional, but as a mostly symbolic gesture they decided to cooperate with the other branches of government, as the majority's point view aligned with that of the others'.

The ruling was handed down on 17 September, 2001. 20 judges ruled that all bans disallowing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, with the remaining 3 dissenting. The ruling came at the same time that same-sex marriage was legalized throughout the Confederation through the legislative process.

Opinion of the Court

As the Opinion of the Court was considered a landmark case affecting the entirety of the Seafaring Confederation, it was provided in all the languages that a landmark case should be published in according to Article 25 (Language) of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation.

The Opinion of the Court was published in English, German Low Saxon, Dutch Low Saxon, Dutch, German, French, West Frisian, East Frisian, Upper Sorbian, Jutlandic, North Frisian, Danish, Dogrish, Dogric Frisian, Howrish, Drollic, Scots Gaelic, Scots, Faroese, Rockallian, Fernolian, Astrallic, Romic and Icelandic.

Majority opinion

In a 20-3 majority ruling, the Supreme Court decided to strike down all laws banning same-sex couples from marriage.

The majority opinion was written by The Rt Hon. Her Ladyship Lies van Houten, Chief Justice, in which she was fully joined by The Rt Hon. Her Ladyships Angela Fürth, Johanna Maria Lauer, Maria Lo, Brenda Lågerssen and Theréise Drúidh, as well as The Rt Hon. His Lordships Hans Lauwer, Jæppe Kristgård Hanssen, John Väede, Rodric NicÁigus and Gréaig Ruatheairreut-Nuabhdheaoil na Grúailleagh.

The majority opinion based its rationale on Article 2 (Non-discrimination) of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation, stating that "denying same-sex couples to marry is a form of discrimination that has a negative effect not only on the two people wanting to get married, but also on their (adopted) children and on people in their direct surroundings[]".

The Constitution requires us to ensure the equal treatment of all citizens of the Confederation, not just a group of citizens. Denying marriage to same-sex couples based on the fact that they are of the same gender constitutes a form of discrimination that is abhorrent and detestable, and should not be allowed within the jurisdiction of this Confederation.
Not only does it demean a group of healthy, sound-of-mind people of a right that should be theirs, the denial of same-sex marriage also has a negative effect on the children and the direct family and friends of those who are denied their basic rights. Marriage has been shown to be a form of bonding and love that can be stronger than any other form, and who are we to deny it to two people who are most certainly in love enough to know that they want it?

A concurring opinion was written by The Rt Hon. His Lordship Fredrik Rønne Læså, in which he was fully joined by The Rt Hon. Her Ladyships Magdalene Gneitter, Éibhaigh NúicCréigheath and Beàin Dràigheòdh, as well as The Rt Hon. His Lordship Peter Petersen.

This concurring opinion based its rationale on a combination of Articles 2 (Non-discrimination) and 7 (Expression) of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation, holding that stating that "same-sex marriage, or any form of same-sex interaction, is simply existent, a genetically predetermined trait, that cannot be chosen or altered at will."

Describing [same-sex marriage and homosexuality] as somehow "wrong" or "unnatural" [..] demeans the very existence of [homosexual individuals]. We in our opinion hold that any opposition to homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and is not protected by the Constitution.

Another concurring opinion was written by The Rt Hon. Her Ladyship Fríða Pállsdóttir, in which she was joined by Her Ladyships Máighí NúicLeit and Nátásiádh dTéainn, as well as The Rt Hon. His Lordship Iònn Naudh.

This concurring opinion based its rationale on Article 6 (Religious freedom) of the Constitution of the Seafaring Confederation, stating that "we cannot ban same-sex marriage on [religious] grounds, and as there is no scientific evidence that same-sex marriage is in any way harmful, its illegality is therefore ungrounded and unconstitutional".

It is very clear that [religious institutions and politics] should be separate and kept separate. These bans on same-sex marriage are based on religious grounds, which is clearly unconstitutional. We cannot keep these bans in place, as their legitimacy is void.

National breakdown

Nation Judges of the majority
Saxony
5 / 5
Rockall
6 / 7
Dogger
1 / 1
Schleswig-Holstein-Jutland
4 / 4
Howry
1 / 1
Highlands
1 / 3
Rom
1 / 1
Faroe Islands
1 / 1

Dissents

A dissent was written by The Rt Hon. His Lordship Seòbhainn Angus, in which he was joined by The Rt Hon. His Lordship Dèinn Lòid. A seperate dissent was written by The Rt Hon. Her Ladyship Úilla na gCarra.

The dissent by His Lordship Sèobhainn Angus based its rationale on Article 6 (Religious freedom) of the Seafaring Confederation, stating that "marriage, in its definition, is a bond between two people of the opposite gender. The belief that it should be extended to couples of the same gender is unconstitutional, as it undermines the institution and adds the beliefs of homosexual individuals into the laws of the nation".

For us to say that same-sex marriage is constitutional is absurd. Marriage is as an institution simply between a man and a woman.

The dissent by Her Ladyship Úilla na gCarra did not hold any constitutional basis and instead refused to rule on the matter, stating "this Court does not have the power to make rules about an institution that should be left up to the People to decide".

This Court should not dare have the arrogancy to believe that it can rule on a matter as spiritually and socially important as this. Instead, the implementation and definition of marriage should be left to be decided by the People, as should be done in a democratic system. We should not impede onto the democratic process of this Confederation.

National breakdown

Nation Judges of dissent
Saxony
0 / 5
Rockall
1 / 7
Dogger
0 / 1
Schleswig-Holstein-Jutland
0 / 4
Howry
0 / 1
Highlands
2 / 3
Rom
0 / 1
Faroe Islands
0 / 1

Responses and analysis

Governmental response

As the ruling came on the exact same moment that same-sex marriage was legalized in every nation and territory of the Confederation, the ruling did not have any direct effect on government policy. The response of most of the government officials was was positive, with support of all but one of the party leaders in the House of Representatives of the Seafaring Confederation and support of all nations on the High Council of the Seafaring Confederation, as well as of the Leaders.

Public response

Legal response

Subsequent developments

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