Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arthur Leonard on Maryland Ruling

Well, Arthur S. Leonard did come through for us all with his fast, yet thorough analysis of the Maryland Court of Appeals decision upholding DOMA wording in state law.

The court could have gone in favor of marriage equality with a vote switch on the 4 to 3 decision. The dissents and partial dissents show the subtle shifts. Yet, this is mainstream judicial thinking reflected on other states recently. In contrast to the winger stereotype of activist courts and judges eager to make law, this decision showed the deeply ingrained fear of appearing to make law in doing their jobs of interpreting it.

Leonard recaps the gist of the decision before hitting the main points in the various judges' opinions:
In a ruling sharply reminiscent of last year’s decision by the Washington State Supreme Court, which was similarly sharply divided, the Maryland Court of Appeals, that state’s highest court, ruled by a vote of 5-2 on September 18 that the state’s denial of the right to marry to same-sex couples does not violate the Maryland constitution. By an even narrower vote, 4-3, the court also implicitly ruled that same-sex couples are not constitutionally entitled to the rights and benefits associated with marriage through some alternative arrangement, such as a civil union.
The progress to marriage equality is crawling, not bounding.

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