By Steve Charing
As the Maryland Court of Appeals squashed any immediate hopes for same-sex marriage here, the reasoning they used have caused legal experts and gay activists to scratch their heads.
Personally, I cannot fathom how such well-educated and respected individuals can be so ignorant, but they sure demonstrated that in the majority opinion.
To be fair, these arguments weren’t totally the Court’s fault; they were included in the state’s briefs and echoed at the proceeding last December when the oral arguments were presented that at times led to quiet sneers by the dismayed lgbt contingent in the courtroom. But the four judges who constituted the fateful majority bought them, with minimal questioning, and that is astounding.
One of these was that marriage should only be between a man and a woman for procreation purposes. They conveniently skipped over the fact that elderly people who decide to marry as well as couples who cannot have children either by choice or for biological reasons hold valid marriage licenses.
Then there is also the near-comical argument that marriage is a good option for those who "accidentally" procreate. Accidents do happen in the home, without question. People fall off ladders, trip down stairs, etc. They even accidentally set off fires. But one person landing on top of another by accident and penetrating to the point of conception is an accident that may not appear in many home safety brochures.
But the one argument that is most troublesome is the assumption that the gay and lesbian community has sufficient political power to remedy any ills, and therefore, is not a suspect class.
But are we that powerful? Let’s take a look.
If we are so powerful, why did we have to sue to be able to legally marry and receive the benefits, rights and responsibilities that heterosexual couples take for granted?
If we are so powerful, how was it that former Governor Ehrlich was able to veto a fair-minded medical decision-making legislation without much protest from our legislative representatives who had voted for it?
If we are so powerful, how did Governor O’Malley backtrack so easily on his original support for same-sex marriage and smacked us in the face by bringing up religion knowing that the plaintiffs were seeking civil marriage rights?
If we are so powerful, how is it that non-citizens, felons, drug abusers and sub-intelligent individuals are allowed to serve openly in the military, but gays and lesbians may not?
If we are so powerful why is it that criminals, drug abusers and adulterers may participate with aplomb in the world of sports and make tons of money from it, but an openly gay athlete would likely be shunned by teammates, fans and potential corporate sponsors?
If we are so powerful, why can murderers, rapists, arsonists, child molesters, drug dealers and bank robbers get to marry anyone they choose, but gays and lesbians can only do so in one state out of fifty?
If we are so powerful, how come only one state out of all those that tried managed to defeat a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage?
If we are so powerful, why can’t a Federal law outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation sail through Congress without a threat of a presidential veto?
And, if we are so powerful, why cannot a gay man or a lesbian hold his or her partner’s hand while walking down the street without fear of someone pounding the back of the head with a baseball bat?
As you can see, the justices on the Court of Appeals failed to ask the state’s attorney these very questions.
There is no doubt we have made substantial progress. But to say we have political clout that obviates the need for protection from discrimination is patently off the mark.