« Ind. Courts - More on: Judge seals records in French Lick casino dispute without hearing | Main | Ind. Law - Star writes today on new identity theft law »

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Law - Washington Court Upholds Ban on Gay Marriage

"Washington Court Upholds Ban on Gay Marriage" is the headline to this story today in the NY Times. The story by Adam Liptak begins:

In an angrily divided 5-to-4 decision, the Washington Supreme Court yesterday upheld a state law banning same-sex marriages.

The justices issued six opinions in the case, with some in the majority emphasizing that the Legislature remained free to extend the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples.

The four dissenting justices said the majority relied on speculation and circular reasoning to endorse discrimination.

Massachusetts remains the only state that sanctions same-sex marriages. New York’s highest court, by a vote of 4 to 2 earlier this month, upheld state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. The New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on the legality of same-sex marriages there.

Legal scholars said the closeness of the Washington and New York decisions suggested that the legal status of same-sex marriages would remain unsettled and controversial. That alone, they said, represents a significant change in public and judicial attitudes.

When the Washington courts last addressed the question of same-sex marriage in 1974, by contrast, an appeals court unanimously voted against the plaintiffs and the State Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

“You’ve gone in 32 years from something that was more or less a slam dunk to where the court is almost evenly and very bitterly divided,” said William B. Rubenstein, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of “Sexual Orientation and the Law.” “The issue is in play.”

Here is a report from the LA Times:
Opponents of gay marriage racked up another legal victory Wednesday, as the highest court in Washington state ruled 5 to 4 that there was no constitutional right for people of the same sex to marry each other.

But even as the state Supreme Court upheld the Legislature's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, three judges in the majority urged lawmakers to revisit their ban on same-sex marriage and the "clear hardship" it imposed on gay people and their children.

The ruling in liberal-leaning Washington echoed one this month in New York, and it left opponents of same-sex marriage elated and hopeful that the national movement was sputtering to an end.

"Christians all over the state have been praying for this decision, and there is a sense of joy," said Rick Kingham, senior pastor of the Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Wash., and a leader of Allies for Marriage and Children, a citizens group. "We would truly say that God has intervened in the affairs of man."

For gay-marriage supporters, the ruling was a major setback. It overturned pro-gay-marriage decisions by two lower-court judges and leaves Massachusetts as the only state in the nation with legally sanctioned same-sex marriage.

But they seized hopefully on the narrow margin and the majority judges' call to lawmakers to revisit the issue as indications that their side would prevail.

Here is the Washington Post report. A quote:
A sharply worded dissent, written by Justice Mary E. Fairhurst and signed by three other justices, said the court was using "the excuse of deference to the legislature to perpetuate the existence of an unconstitutional and unjust law."

The majority ruling condoned "blatant discrimination against Washington's gay and lesbian citizens in the name of encouraging procreation" and raising children in homes with opposite-sex parents, Fairhurst wrote. She argued that the court ignored "the fact that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has no prospect of furthering any of those interests."

Here is a link to the opinions page in Andersen v. King Co.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 27, 2006 09:01 AM
Posted to General Law Related