Maryland Holds the Old Line on Marriage

19 09 2007

Filed under: Homosexuality, Same-sex marriage, Maryland, Politics, Morality

The Maryland Court of Appeals, in a rare but refreshing display of judicial restraint, ruling (4 – 3, pdf) yesterday upheld a state law that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Jenny Tyree, associate marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action, called it a significant decision.

“The Maryland court upheld two important ideas — that the marriage laws do not discriminate, and that procreation is a rational basis for the Legislature to protect marriage in the state. It’s an especially heartening decision as we see evidence that children do best with a married mom and dad. This decision confirms that marriage is not a legal institution for the purpose of equality; it’s a social institution with children at its heart.

Marc Fisher, writing in the (liberal) Washington Post, says the ruling spells confusion:

For now, said a majority of four justices [led by Justice Glenn Harrell] on the seven-member court, marriage remains a legal arrangement between a man, a woman and the state–a deal made expressly for the purpose of encouraging procreation.

But only from a legal standpoint. And that’s not all. Don’t forget to emphasize that their decision was based on the fact that Maryland’s sex discrimination laws were not intended to address sexual orientation.

But three justices said the majority is willfully ignoring both social and legal change, including a long string of moves by Maryland’s legislature to assure that gays receive the same guarantees of fundamental rights as other citizens.

To get a sense of Fisher’s stance, let’s look at his word choice. He used the words, “same” or “equal” a combined seven times in his article. The phrase, “special legal status” was used only once. And that was criticizing the majority opinion.

Everyone knows that gays already have a the SAME rights as other citizens. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be having such a challenging time winning these cases. Also, we wouldn’t see many states passing marriage amendments.

Fisher continues:

Two justices, Chief Justice Robert Bell and Irma Raker, said that while there is no right to gay marriage, gays must be granted the same rights of marriage as any other citizen. The dissenters said they would have adopted the conclusion of New Jersey’s top court, which ruled that “to comply with this constitutional mandate [of equal rights for all], the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure, which will provide for, on equal terms, the rights and benefits enjoyed and burdens and obligations borne by married couples.”

There’s that word, “same” again. Notice both options by the liberal dissenters exclude asking the people of Maryland what they want in the form of a vote. They prefer to follow New Jersey’s example where the court held a “loaded gun” to the legislature’s head. One bullet is gay-marriage, and the other is civil unions. But neither is democracy and either choice usurps the will of the people.

There are fundamental rights protected by Maryland’s constitution that same-sex couples cannot enjoy because the marriage law excludes them. On this point, the majority agreed that the law treats gays differently and excludes them from the benefits associated with marriage.

And for good reason. Marriage between one man and one woman is a cornerstone of society for procreation reasons and upholding biblical values, which are instilled in our country. Here is the “legal kicker” from the majority:

But the justices said the unequal treatment gays often receive does not render them politically powerless–the standard the court would have to reach before it could justify declaring gays a “protected class” eligible for special legal status. To the contrary, the majority said, rising gay power in the state’s political process has won gays all manner of legal protection from discrimination in housing, education, employment and so on. Given that “increasing political coming of age,” the majority said, gays don’t need any additional constitutional protection.

I might add, “don’t need any additional special constitutional protection.” Many liberals love to argue in favor of same-sex marriage rights by citing the discrimination they suffer is something they were born with. But the court shoots that down with this missile:

The majority also rejected the idea that homosexuality is immutable, saying that it had no scientific or sociological evidence to show that people are born gay and therefore are being discriminated against on the basis of something over which they have no control–another argument the same-sex couples had made to bolster their view that their fundamental rights were being violated. There is no such thing as a fundamental right of marriage for same-sex couples, the ruling repeatedly says, quoting from the Bible, Maryland law and the laws of every other state in the Union but for Massachusetts to support the idea that marriage is rooted in the man-woman relationship.

Fisher points out where the split occurs in the decision:

The pro-gay marriage side says the fundamental right in question is the right to marry, and the question of who gets to do that is secondary.

But the court sided with most other state courts in rejecting that idea, arguing that “the right to marry enjoys its fundamental status due to the male-female nature of the relationship and/or the attendant link to fostering procreation of our species.”

Fisher, siding the minority, cites a 1987 Missouri case in which the right to marry was granted to inmates who had no opportunity to procreate, making the argument that marriage is “solely a matter of giving legal sanction to procreation.” Other examples used by same-sex marriage proponents to bolster their argument is to cite the 50% national divorce rate, opposition to interracial marriage, and the heterosexual couples that are simply unable to procreate.

The Missouri case hardly represents a majority of the county the prison is located in, much less the state. The decision was granted in a move most likely to help inmates when they get out of prison (when the can procreate). Besides, marriage decisions like this one in Maryland are not based solely on procreation, as Fisher would lead us to believe. They are based on the fact that courts are not the institution to fabricate special laws in order to legislate a moral wrong.

Additionally, it is not acceptable to justify one wrong (same-sex marriage) with another wrong (50% divorce). Simply because half of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce does not mean that gay marriage cannot be resisted. The argument is saying that while heterosexual marriages are not perfect, gay marriages are. As soon as the first same-sex marriage ends in divorce, which has already occurred in Massachusetts, that argument loses any credibility. The interracial marriage argument, if it held any credibility, would certainly surface as support for same-sex marriage. Instead, as Justice Harrell notes in the opinion, it is not applicable for same-sex marriage:

While Loving expanded the traditional scope of the fundamental right to marry by granting interracial couples unrestricted access to the state-sanctioned marriage institution, that decision was anchored to the concept of marriage as a union involving persons of the opposite sex.

A very key tenet that same-sex marriage proponents miss is that conservatives, on the moral front, are equally critical of active heterosexual relationships outside of marriage as they are of homosexual relationships. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that liberals have plugged their ears with their fingers when it comes to any moral argument. That is because they are trying to turn a moral issue into a political issue.

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