References: All pertinent documents and the history on the case appear on Equality Maryland's page on the case.
The judges, legislators and voters alike have no doubt who's on what team. In particular, the anti-gay legislators are very plain about their willingness to hold down homosexual couples.
For example, one strident foe of marriage equality is Delegate Donald H. Dwyer Jr. , a Republican from Anne Arundel. He's sort of their Emile Goguen and has unsuccessfully tried three times to get the legislature to pass a ban on SSM. He'll try this coming session. As he not so subtly put it to the Washington Post, "If the state of Maryland legalizes same-sex marriage, there will be nothing to prevent it from being taught in the public schools as a normal sexual lifestyle."
In January, a Baltim0re Circuit Court justice, M. Brooke Murdock, agreed with 19 plaintiffs that limiting marriage licenses to one man and one woman was discriminatory. He suggested that this was unconstitutional.
According to an analytical article in the Baltimore Sun, everyone is wary of this fight. McDaniel College political science professor Herbert C. Smith uses the third-rail allusion. "It will be a political issue at the extremes, and the moderate cores of both parties would like it to go away. It's an issue that has costs."
Stirring the pot are money and bodies from pro-SSM and anti-SSM forces outside and inside the state. Both sides and observers seem to agree that whatever this court decides won't end the matter. The anti-forces vow to fight in the legislature for a DOMA-style amendment. Similarly a New Jersey style mush-mouth ruling -- SSM, just don't call it marriage -- won't satisfy the marriage-equality side.
The Post cites figures from the local Advocates for Children and Youth that Maryland has over 15,000 same-sex couples. Whether anti-SSM folk can continue to look away and hum little distracted songs when acting to discriminate against both homosexual couples and their kids remains to be seen. The emotional factors in this case are understandably high.
The extra wrinkle in this case is the regressive governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. He vetoed both a 2001 law banning sexual-orientation based discrimination and a life partnership law that would provide such benefits as medical decision making for SS couples. He claimed the laws undermined "the sanctity of traditional marriage."
So, in Maryland, the forces are lined up opposite each other. If the high court rules for marriage equality, even in a spongy format, the fight moves to the legislature. If it rules against equality, ahem, the fight moves to the legislature. It looks long and nasty, but SSM still has a good shot there.
Tags: massmarrier, Maryland, same sex marriage, Court of Appeals