Tuesday, March 15, 2005

With Liberty And Justice For All

Of course it will be appealed, but for now, it's still good news: Judge Rules State Can't Bar Gay Marriage.

Readers who have been around since the very beginning of this site will remember that we've spent a fair amount of time on the topic.

The only downside is that you can bet this will be on my Sexuality and the Law final - which means reading this case over break. Small price to pay, however.

The blawg-able aspects of the case:

"No rational basis exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," wrote San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer. "Same-sex marriage cannot be prohibited solely because California has always done so before. . . . .

In his decision, Kramer said the state laws violated a person's fundamental right to marry and illegally discriminated on the basis of gender.

He dismissed the state's contention that gays and lesbians can be denied the right to marry on the basis of tradition. Similar arguments had been made in favor of laws banning marriages between people of different races, he noted.

He also rejected Lockyer's argument that because California provides domestic partnerships it does not need to allow gays to marry. "The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts: separate but equal," the judge wrote.

The judge also rejected the argument that matrimony was intended for procreation and therefore naturally limited to opposite-sex couples.

Many opposite-sex couples marry without ever having children — or even being able to conceive — and gay couples can have children through adoption and medical technology, he noted.

"One does not have to be married to procreate, nor does one have to procreate in order to be married," Kramer wrote.

Some opponents of gay marriage have argued that allowing same-sex couples to wed would open the way for legalized incest or adults marrying children.

Kramer rejected that argument as well. The state can limit who is permitted to marry if there is a legitimate governmental interest for doing so, Kramer said. But, he said, state officials have provided no such justification for barring same-sex unions.
The slippery slope argument - a perennial courtroom favorite - just fails. How can you draw a line? Easy, you just do. This is my whole problem with the law: life's messy. Try as you might to fashion some multi-prong test or scruitiny rule, sometimes, you just can't. "I know it when I see it," where the seven most honestly written words in the history of American jurisprudence.

According to The Daily Breeze (AP), the judge is a Republican Catholic. Or a Catholic Republican, I suppose. Either way, that makes me like the ruling even more. And it makes sense: church doctrine or not, Catholics (at least the way I was raised) aren't so much on the hatin', and if he's a true conservative, he should be prone to supporting anything strengthening institutions that make for a stable society - like marriage.

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