Friday, May 18, 2012

MD High Court Upholds Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages // Sen. Mike Miller Questions Obama LGBT Marriage Endorsement

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the NAACP has endorsed marriage equality:
WASHINGTON POST: The NAACP’s board of directors voted Saturday to endorse same-sex marriage rights – adding the influential voice of the country’s leading black civil rights organization to a debate that has divided the African-American community....

The NAACP now presents itself as a counterbalance to the influence of the traditionally socially conservative black church. It can also help establish closer ties between blacks and gays, two of Obama’s most loyal constituencies....

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement released Saturday. “The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people. The well-funded right wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed....”

The resolution approved Saturday states: "The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the ‘political, education, social and economic equality’ of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment."

Marylanders for Marriage Equality issued the following press release in response to the NAACP endorsement:
Marylanders for Marriage Equality Hails
NAACP Board Vote on Marriage Equality
BALTIMORE – Earlier today the NAACP Board of Directors voted in favor of marriage equality.  Marylanders for Marriage Equality issued this statement by campaign manager Josh Levin.

We could not be more pleased with the NAACP board decision today to support marriage equality. It is yet again reflective of the growing momentum within the African-American community --like all communities - to support stronger families and protect children.

The NAACP- Baltimore Branch has been part of our coalition from the beginning, as has Chairman Emeritus of the NAACP, Dr. Julian Bond. Churches and African-American pastors have spoken out in favor of civil marriage. And anecdotally through our field work, President Obama's historic endorsement of marriage equality is changing people’s minds.

The signs are clear: A majority of all Marylanders - people of all backgrounds - support making families stronger and protecting all children equally under the law.

The NAACP's statement can be found here:

SAME-SEX MARRIAGES NOW LEGAL IN MD REGARDLESS OF REFERENDUM: Today, Maryland's Court of Appeals -- the highest court in the state -- unanimously (7-0) ruled that Maryland law does indeed recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. The court further clarified that this would be true whether or not the proposed referendum to prohibit marriage equality passes. Maryland Juice cannot overstate how much this is a game-changer.

What the court has essentially said is that if same-sex couples in Maryland want to get married, they can walk over to the District of Columbia (where same-sex marriage is legal), and spend their money in D.C. instead of Maryland. Then, when they return to Maryland, their marriage would be recognized under state law. That now means that November's ballot measure won't "preserve traditional marriage" at all. Passing a ban on marriage equality would simply broadcast a venomous message to the world and send our tax dollars to a neighboring jurisdiction.

Below, we provide the full text of the Court of Appeals opinion, and we excerpt the conclusion below:
COURT OF APPEALS: Under the principles of the doctrine of comity applied in our State, Maryland courts will withhold recognition of a valid foreign marriage only if that marriage is “repugnant” to State public policy. This threshold, a high bar, has not been met yet; e.g., no still viable decision by this Court has deemed a valid foreign marriage to be “repugnant,” despite being void or punishable as a misdemeanor or more serious crime were it performed in Maryland.
The present case will be treated no differently. A valid out-of-state same-sex marriage should be treated by Maryland courts as worthy of divorce, according to the applicable statutes, reported cases, and court rules of this State.

The Associated Press had this early coverage of Maryland's breaking court decision:
AP: Maryland's highest court ruled Friday that same-sex couples can divorce in the state even though Maryland does not yet permit same-sex marriages.

The Court of Appeals ruled 7-0 that couples who have a valid marriage from another state can divorce in Maryland. The case involved two women who were married in California and denied a divorce in 2010 by a Maryland judge....

An attorney for one of the plaintiffs cheered the ruling, because now Maryland will at least recognize same-sex marriages from other states, regardless of the outcome of a referendum, if opponents successfully get enough signatures to put the law on the ballot and it is overturned by voters.

"Maryland's referendum laws cannot overturn a Court of Appeals decision," said Michele Zavos, an attorney who represented plaintiff Jessica Port in the case. "That decision can only be overturned by the Legislature, and given the Legislature passed marriage, I think that we can expect that this decision will remain the law of Maryland."

SEN. MIKE MILLER UNDERMINES OBAMA MARRIAGE EQUALITY ENDORSEMENT: Amazingly, Maryland Senate President Mike Miller was on NPR's Kojo Nnamdi show today (ie: the same day as the Court of Appeals ruling) undermining President Barack Obama's recent endorsement of marriage equality. We provide a video excerpt of Sen. Miller's interview below (full interview at WAMU), along with a brief transcript of some of his unfortunate comments:
SEN. MIKE MILLER: I'm concerned for Obama, only in the sense that I read a poll that said 40% of people are inclined to vote against him because of his expression on same-sex marriage.... terms of his political future, I don't think it helped him.... He needs to carry Virginia; he needs to carry Pennsylvania; and we'd like to see him carry North Carolina and Ohio  -- and I think both those states, which are in play, are going to be much more difficult for him to carry because of that expression.

It sure sounds to me like Senator Mike Miller does not want Maryland to uphold marriage equality, given that at every opportunity he undermines state and federal Democratic leaders on the issue. WTF.

Maryland Court of Appeals Upholds Same-Sex Marriage 5/18/2012

No comments:

Post a Comment