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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