Thursday, July 06, 2006

NY Court Washes Hands of SSM

Bwaak. Bwaak.

Depending on where you are, it seems courts, governors and legislators all want someone else to take responsibility for ruling on same-sex marriage. Here, we ended up with court-mandated SSM because the legislative leaders looked away too often for too long. As we write, Washington State's elected high-court judges have been sitting on their decision for a year and one-half.

In New York State this morning, the Court of Appeals threw it back to the legislature in a four-to-two decision. The New York Times recap is here and AP's somewhat misleading version is here.

The initial wire-service report is that the court rejected SSM, while the reality is that it was pushing it away. Instead, as the Times reports, "The court did not rule that the state should not or could not allow gay marriages, only that the state constitution did not require that it allow them."

Interestingly enough in what the legislature may take as arguments when it takes this issue up -- as it surely will under public pressure from all sides, the court stressed the importance of marriage to children. Again, as the Times put it:
First, the court said, marriage could be preserved as an "inducement" to heterosexual couples to remain in stable, long-term, and child-bearing relationships. Second, lawmakers could rationally conclude that "it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and the father."
The justices did not buy the plaintiffs' comparison with segregation by race. The case had 44 couples as plaintiffs.

Writing for the majority, Judge Robert Smith concluded, "We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives."

The 70-Page Decision: Majority and dissenting rulings are in the PDF of the decision. We haven't read or analyzed this yet. But wait, we have read it now, Friday. See a few comments and some citations here.

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Anonymous said...

what is so pathetic about this decision is that the court totally bought the arguement that marriage can be denied to gay couples because each child deserves a father and a mother. excuse me? there is no child-bearing mandate that comes with a marriage license! the court majority has just defined gay families as inferior and deficient, ignores the obvious that not all married people have children and that not all children are born to married people, and that marriage never guarantees the positive participation of both parents in a child's life. if the ny constitution doesn't guarantee equality for all its citizens then i understand that the ruling could be legally sound (if not the *most* sound interpretation). after all, courts have to work with the laws as they exist. however, the slander of gay families was gratuitous and i am thoroughly disgusted by it. words of respect for all families - a potato too hot for the tender hands of certain judges. pathetic, pathetic, pathetic.

massmarrier said...

The dissenting opinion by the chief judge of the court agrees with you. She seems to understand the issues and law much more clearly than the four in the majority.

It would seem that sterile and elderly couples could be forbidden from marrying under that reasoning. It's absurd, as well as being an emotional response to a legal questions.

More to follow.

Anonymous said...

The majority opinion is a disgrace to legal reasoning. Have these people been to law school? Do they understand what judges are supposed to do?

Seemingly, only two of the justices understand the difference between a law passed by the legislature and the constitution.

What a foul, foul, thing to put to paper. It is disgusting, and I hope they are shunned by the rest of the judges in the country who are living in this century.

I feel so sorry for those plaintiff couples who are told that their children not only do not have the protections of their classmates, but also that they are not worthy of protections.

I just want to puke.