Thursday, December 09, 2010

Maryland Verges on Approving Gay Marriage

Bucking the trend in most states, the 2010 elections have drastically improved the prospects of legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland. Democrats added 2 seats to their already-overwhelming majority in the State Senate (Republicans made mild gains in the House of Delegates, but are still outnumbered by a 2:1 margin). Moreover, shifts in committee assignments means that the key committee where same-sex marriage rights had previously been bottled up now contains a majority of gay rights supporters.

Though the effort would be subject to a filibuster, Democratic leaders are confident that it will be overcome (with the support of conservative Democrats who will vote against the bill but allow it to come to a vote). After that, it is likely that the law will be taken to a referendum in 2012. Polls are showing a slim majority of Marylanders favor marriage equality.

We'll see if this comes through, but we can only hope. The only downside I can see is that legislative passage likely means the Maryland Court of Appeals will never have occasion to reverse the blot on its record that is Conaway v. Deane. But I guess that's their problem.


Larry Esser said...

A fair picture of what we are facing here in MD. The scary part is the referendum. But if the California Prop 8 case is ultimately decided in our favor, wouldn't any law/constitutional amendment passed to ban same-sex marriage be subject to immediate legal dismissal? And wouldn't all such laws or amendments in all states that have such bans so far be also successfully challenged?

David Schraub said...

Depends how far up the chain the case goes. If the Supreme Court strikes down Prop. 8, then it would control in Maryland too. But if the case only reaches the 9th Circuit, then that ruling is only binding in the states the 9th Circuit encompasses (the Western USA, mostly).

PG said...

Given the extent to which the federal Prop. 8 challenge relies on Romer (i.e. that Prop.8 was driven by anti-gay animus, which is an impermissible rationale for a law), the anti-SSM folks may have gotten bright enough to mount their referendum campaign purely on "We love teh gay, but we think this issue should be directly voted on by the people of Maryland."