Release The Hounds!

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Andersen v. King County

I spent some time this morning on Wide Awakes Radio discussing the Washington Supreme Court case that held the state's ban on gay marriage was constitutional. It was reviewing the challenge to Washington state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) by a number of same sex couples who sought to be married under that state's laws and claimed that the DOMA was discriminatory against gays and lesbians. I have taken the time to read the entire 62 page majority opinion. Let me point out its most significant aspects, for I expect that its detractors will mischaracterize what this court has done. First of all, the court held that homosexuality/homosexuals are not a "suspect class" such as those based upon race, religion or national origin. Therefore, the heightened standard of review applied to laws arguably affecting members of a suspect class are not to be applied here. Instead, the court is to simply determine if the legislature had a "rational basis" for the law being challenged. The court found that the legislature did. The Washington state Supreme Court also very clearly stated that it was not it's role or function to pass on the wisdom of the law (i.e. substitute the judgment of the justices for that of the legislature) but merely to determine if there was a rational basis for the law. Finally, the court discussed the legislature's basis for passage of the DOMA and recognized that the policy of encouraging same sex marriage and the formation and maintenance of traditional "nuclear families" was a legitimate goal advanced by the DOMA. It referenced studies showing that children raised by a mother and a father in an intact family generally out-perform both academically and socially those from single-parent families or from families where there is not both a male and female role model. This is very important stuff. But remember that the court was not endorsing heterosexual unions over same sex unions. It was simply, but effectively, doing its job by showing the proper deference to the legislative branch of the government rather than legislating from the bench.