MARYLAND’S SUPREME COURT REJECTS GAY MARRIAGE ATTEMPT, and Dale Carpenter looks at the big picture:
SSM has lost in every state high court to consider the issue since the stunning success in Goodridge in Massachusetts in 2003. SSM legal advocates lost outright in Washington state and New York in 2006. New Jersey’s high court also rejected an SSM claim in 2006, though it did order the recognition of civil unions and left open the possibility of a future pro-SSM ruling. A case is still pending in California’s supreme court.
When you consider that SSM legal advocates have carefully chosen the most sympathetic venues since Goodridge, this record of losses is especially significant. It means that strong anti-SSM precedents are being created in the friendliest states, making pro-SSM rulings in other states even more unlikely in the near future. Once California is decided, the initial phase of post-Goodridge litigation will have pretty much run its course. That was the phase that was supposed to start an avalanche of pro-SSM judicial rulings that would quickly lead to gay marriage around the country. It didn’t happen. Other cases are pending in states like Iowa, and there’s nothing to stop gay couples from filing anywhere else, but the odds are now longer. If SSM is to advance much in the near future, it will probably have to come legislatively.
I think that’s right, and I think it’s probably both inevitable, and better that way. An earlier post on the subject can be found here.