Appeal for Amendment Banning Gay Marriage Rejected in South Africa

By Peter J. Smith

PRETORIA, South Africa, August 17, 2006 ( – Calls for amending the South African Constitution to protect traditional marriage were thoroughly rebuffed by the chairman of a parliamentary committee preparing a bill legalizing same-sex “marriage”.

Committee chair Patrick Chauke dismissed the appeals of the opposition African Christian Democratic Party to ban same-sex “marriage”, insisting that the government will not deviate from advancing a bill to legalize same-sex “marriage” mandated by the Constitutional Court.

“We believe the right thing to do is to amend the Constitution to make it clear that marriage is between a male and a female,” said ACDP party leader, Rev. Kenneth Meshoe on Wednesday.

However, Chauke informed reporters that the measure amending the Marriage Act will be presented to the cabinet in September, and will lay before Parliament for consideration by October. Chauke predicts the measure gain passage in Parliament before December, the deadline mandated by the Court.

Currently South Africa’s Marriage Act defines marriage as “the union of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of others”. However, the Constitutional Court declared in December 2005 that the law violated Section 9 of the Constitution prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and ordered the government to change the marriage law to include same-sex couples by December and threatened it would take action if the government failed to amend the law.

Ironically, the government at the time was appealing the Constitutional Court to reverse a 2004 Supreme Court of Appeal order to open up marriage to same-sex couples claiming that it had usurped Parliament’s authority to make laws.

The 2005 Court decision was the latest in legal victories for homosexual activists since sodomy was decriminalized in 1998, same-sex adoption legalized in 2002, and recognition of domestic partnership benefits for homosexuals was granted in 2003.

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