Maryland flirts with sanity

Although I’ve expressed my dismay at the ridiculous push in Virginia for a state constitutional amendment to outline marriage as only one man and one woman, I’m not worried about the long-term consequences. Such witch hunts for those “responsible” for society’s ills don’t last forever. It’s possible (probable) that the target only changes, but I’m trying to be optimistic. So it’s with that attitude that I read about a Maryland judge overturning that states law against same-sex marriage:

The ruling by Judge M. Brooke Murdock rejected a state argument that the government had a legitimate interest in protecting the traditional family unit of heterosexual parents.

“Although tradition and societal values are important, they cannot be given so much weight that they alone will justify a discriminatory” law, she wrote.

The judge immediately stayed her order to give the state time to file an expected appeal in Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

I haven’t read the rest of the ruling so I can only go on that summary. If that’s the most accurate summary, my response is amusement that anyone can’t understand that. How committed to government as moral weapon does one have to be?

What I find most telling is that the judged immediately stayed her order. The cries of “judicial activism” have no doubt begun, but I don’t see how a judge intentionally slowing the case down, allowing the possibility that the ruling will never be implemented, can be anything other than our legal system carrying out its proper function. I’m not too innocent to know how much of a change same-sex marriage is for some people, but that doesn’t mean it should stop because a few are afraid. We do have principles and they’re working fine, despite the political lies to the contrary.

Lie number one:

Along with the argument for preserving the traditional family unit, lawyers for the state had said the issue was a question for the Legislature rather than the courts.

Of course. And when the Legislature passes a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, as California did, the politicians then claim that the people themselves should decide, because we’re a republic democracy. Or they complain in uniquely patronizing ways:

Senate President Thomas Mike Miller, a Democrat, said he believes the ruling will be overturned.

“In my opinion, the plaintiffs forum-shopped,” Miller said. “I don’t think the same opinion would have been rendered in 90% of the other circuits in the state of Maryland.”

Allow me to highlight Maryland’s legislative veto override last week, which enacted a bill forcing Wal-Mart into health care expenditures not required of any other employer in the state of Maryland. That would be the law encouraged by competing grocery store chains in Maryland because they couldn’t compete with Wal-Mart’s cost structure. Instead of competing in the marketplace, Giant did what any good corporate citizen does when there are politicians willing to impose any feel good law, regardless of the reasons or implications. That seems like a pretty clear case of “forum-shopping” to me. No doubt Sen. Miller is familiar with this example, since he joined 29 Senators in voting to override the governor’s veto.

Lie number two:

“The evidence is now on the table. We must pass a constitutional amendment,” said Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel). “This issue is not for the courts to decide.”

I thought interpreting the state constitution is what the court was designed to do. But allow me to pose a question, instead. If the court shouldn’t decide this issue, how will it have any authority to enforce a constitutional amendment which merely addresses a different angle of this issue? But I’m probably wrong in my assumption. Del. Dwyer will certainly request a constitutional amendment indicating that the court does not have jurisdiction over same-sex marriage and not a blunt amendment designed only to counteract what the court decided. Sometimes, I’m just so happy that there are politicians more capable of understanding what we need than we can decide for ourselves.