Friday, July 07, 2006

Gay Marriage Decision

The NY Court of Appeals (our oddly named top state court) came down with a decision on a gay marriage question recently. The decision is linked here, but I'll be honest that I haven't waded through the 70 page pdf file yet.

The short answer is the NY court said "no gay marriage," but it's a lot more complicated than that. That's just the fevered outcry you'll hear from whichever partisan group is applauding/decrying the decision. What (from a brief skim) it appears to be is that the question posed to the court was "does the NY Constitution require equal treatment of same sex couples seeking to marry?," to which the court said, again paraphrasing, "the Constitution doesn't say so and it's a matter for the legislature."

I'm usually aggravated by press coverage of any monumental court decision, or at least the highly publicized ones that might not be monumental when read carefully. Typically, an appellate court is presented with various questions which it is asked to resolve. "Is it a violation of the prohibition against warrantless search to scan a house from the street with an infrared camera," is one such question, or "can one state have sole regulatory authority over a vessel traveling between two states?" The courts are rarely, if ever, presented with a "is gay marriage legal?" sort of question, because that's not how the law works, yet that's what tends to be reported in the mainstream press. The real questions, and answers, are a lot more nuanced and shaded with grey.


Blogger Julia said...

My impression of the ruling was that the court left it to the legislature to make a law either allowing or banning gay marriage. After all, the courts do not create legislation, they rule whether it's constitutional. Of course, with NYS we can expect that any kind of legislation legalizing gay marriage will languish in committee or be immediately kaboshed by the opposing party when it reaches the floor. My assumptions anyway.

11:06 AM  

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