Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Patrolling the Old Line State

According to Alas, a Blog, a Maryland court has issued a decision holding that the prohibition against same-sex marriage violates the Maryland constitution. That's a positive, but Ampersand is worried that the legislature will overturn it. And state Democrats seem none-too-pleased either.

As Amp notes, to overturn the state constitution, you need the approval of 60% of both legislative chambers, plus a majority of Marylanders voting for it on a ballot referendum. I think that the Maryland state senate, at least, can block this off. With 33 Democrats to just 14 Republicans, anti-gay forces would need to poach 15 Democrats (and hold their entirely party together) in order to pass the amendment. This doesn't seem feasible to me. What may be problematic is the alignment of the state's highest court, which apparently consists of 3 liberals, 3 conservatives, and one Democrat appointed by a Republican whose tenure is too new to evaluate. So there is no guarentee that the ruling will even survive on a legal level.

However, that won't stop it from impacting highly contested races in the state. Maryland currently has an open senate seat that Democrats should hold (but Republicans are making a game effort for). More intriguingly, Democrats have been itching to take a shot at Governor Robert Ehrlich ever since he slid into the office past the incompetent Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Two of the state's hottest political stars, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, have both declared their opposition to Ehrlich in 2006 election. By all accounts, he should be sweating, but gay marriage is always a life boat for conservatives anywhere. If this was any other election season, I could see the Maryland legislature resisting anti-gay moves, but this is the most in-the-air electoral season Maryland has seen in a long time, which could lead to some kooky positions. Keep an eye out.

2 comments:

Greg said...

Fitting that state legislatures almost always shy away from taking any moves toward legal recognition of same-sex marriage. It's not a popular issue; the status quo is fine with most people. It's always the courts, the branch of government farthest removed from the people, that does this. And to defy them, they have to be replaced, or else get a supermajority to "overturn" the Constitution because they get to define it, no matter how contrary to a common-sense reading it is.

jack said...

Fitting that state legislatures almost always shy away from taking any moves toward legal recognition of *equal rights for African Americans*. It's not a popular issue; the status quo is fine with most people. It's always the courts, the branch of government farthest removed from the people, that does this. And to defy them, they have to be replaced, or else get a supermajority to "overturn" the Constitution because they get to define it, no matter how contrary to a common-sense reading it is.

...

I'm just saying.

Also, this has nothing to do with the post but Dave, you should read this: http://daoureport.salon.com/synopsis.aspx?synopsisId=59f92c44-e7ec-48c4-91c7-b51768df79a3