In 2004, after the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriages in that state, President Bush proposed a federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman while leaving it to the states to decide the legal arrangements between other kinds of couples. Now comes the New Jersey ruling requiring same-sex unions.
Despite widespread national support for the constitutional amendment, including from this newspaper, it has not yet made its way through Congress. So states have taken up the issue themselves; 20 so far, including Georgia, have passed constitutional amendments to ban homosexual marriages. Eight others, including South Carolina, will have the ban on the ballot Nov. 7.
What could be more of a states' rights issue than marriage? If a state can't decide - via ballot measure or the legislature - how it wants to define marriage, then what can it decide?
And what right do courts have to strike down a marriage law that the people or their representatives have approved? Courts are supposed to interpret the law, not make it. It's the pinnacle of arrogance for a handful of activist judges to revamp the institution of marriage, the most enduring institution in human history.
If marriage is not a sacred union between a man and a woman, what comes next? The door is open to legalizing polygamy, group marriages, bestiality, adults marrying children.
These changes wouldn't happen overnight, but they could happen over time. A generation ago, no one in his or her right mind thought people of the same sex should marry. Most still don't.
Constitutional amendments are no guarantee that state courts will keep their noses out of the homosexual marriage business. But that doesn't mean states shouldn't ban them. They're still the best defense against same-sex marriage.