Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Monday, April 18, 2005

It's About Equal Rights

An article in the PPH today explains why the pro-discrimination side is wrong about a Massachusetts gay rights law leading to gay marriage.
There are more than a dozen references in the ruling to the fact that it is based on the requirements of the Massachusetts Constitution. The justices wrote that the Constitution "affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals" and prohibits treating any residents as second-class citizens. The opponents of same-sex marriage "failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage" to gays and lesbians, the ruling says.

By contrast, there is only one reference in the ruling to the gay-rights law. The court majority wrote that Massachusetts "has a strong affirmative policy of preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," both in its laws and in other court rulings. The next paragraph in the decision reiterates that the ruling is based on constitutional grounds. [...]

The Massachusetts ruling "is clearly based on the constitution of Massachusetts and has nothing to do with the existence or non-existence of an anti-discrimination law," said Pat Peard of Maine Won't Discriminate, which supports Maine's gay-rights law. To claim otherwise "is a red herring," she said.

"The case would have come out the exact same way" even if Massachusetts had no gay-rights law, said Mary Bonauto, a lawyer who successfully argued the court case. The fact that Massachusetts had an anti-discrimination law on the books when the court intervened on marriage was "completely legally inconsequential," she said.

Even the Christian Civic League's lawyer agrees (although he tries some weaseling to preserve their straw man).
Stephen Whiting, an attorney for the Christian Civic League of Maine, said the court probably would have ruled the same way even without a gay-rights law, but he said that law made the ruling easier to justify. The gay-rights law "essentially gave the court in Massachusetts a green light" by illustrating "the changing opinion of the public" in Massachusetts on such issues, Whiting said of marriage.


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8 Comments:

If you don't mind the shameless self-promo here, my blog has an article on the gay rights debate. 

Posted by Nathan

4/18/2005 06:25:00 PM

 

This bill has nothing legally to do with gay marriage but politically it has a lot to do with gay marriage. If the gay rights bill becomes law, the proponents will next push for civil unions and ultimately gay marriage. 

Posted by George

4/19/2005 07:28:00 PM

 

Well, even if that is the case George, shouldn't they fight it when they disagree about the actual issue. It is quite chilling that people would deny an entire demographic their civil liberties just because they might run another campaign later. 

Posted by Ryan

4/20/2005 12:44:00 PM

 

Most liberal victories have come through incrementalism. That is what the gay marriage proponents are doing now. The opponents are smart to call them on it. Also, if you accept the argument that discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong, how can you justify not allowing gay marriage? Or at least civil unions for gays with the same legal benefits as marraige? It seems to me that the arguments are the same. 

Posted by George

4/20/2005 03:12:00 PM

 

George, you've already said you voted for the last gay rights bill, yet I'm under the impression that you don't support gay marriage.

Obviously you didn't find the decision to allow one and not the other all that hard. 

Posted by Mike

4/20/2005 05:43:00 PM

 

In 2000, gay marriage was not a serious possibility. Today it is. I voted for the gay rights bill in 2000 because I thought it would have little impact one way or the other. I bought the argument that all they wanted was a ban on discrimination in the named areas. I voted Yes in hopes of ending the issue. It is clear today that the gay rights bill is just part of a larger agenda and its passage will not settle anything.

Putting aside my views: why do all the arguments made for the gay rights bill not equally applicable in support of gay marriage? If discrimination is wrong, why should the government be able to discriminate? 

Posted by George

4/20/2005 07:03:00 PM

 

The sexual orientation section is troubling to most liberal Mainers since it opens the way to a variety of sexual relationships many find troubling...children, animals, special needs, and close relatives, or discrimination against people convicted of sexual crimes, i.e. posting their photos and address. Local police and other community agencies will have to halt their campaigns against sexual offenders or face lawsuits.

It seems there are two types of marriages...one favored by liberal/socialists that is a sanction by the government, and another which is a sanction by a higher moral authority like a church. Just what is "legal" is now in flux.  

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4/23/2005 12:07:00 PM

 

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10/06/2005 11:32:00 AM

 

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