Some 35 years ago, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and her allies were scoffed at and ridiculed for warning that a federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would open the door to “gay marriage.” After all, in the 1970s, virtually no one — save two men who tried to “marry” in Minnesota — had heard of such a thing.
Last month, the Maryland Court of Appeals exonerated the ERA, at least on the “gay marriage” argument. The primary purpose of Maryland’s ERA, approved by voters in 1972, “was to eliminate discrimination as between men and women as a class,” Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote in the 4-3 majority opinion in Deane v. Conaway, issued Sept. 18.
Maryland’s marriage law doesn’t violate the ERA because it “prohibits equally” male couples and female couples from marrying, Judge Harrell wrote, citing a half-dozen other cases as precedent.
Does this mean the nation is closer to enacting a federal ERA? Are ERA opponents like Mrs. Schlafly ready to throw in the towel?
The answer is no. The struggle will carry on.
ERA supporter Idella Moore is pleased that the Maryland high court acquitted the ERA once again.
“Frankly, I don’t know how many court cases it’s going to take to convince people” that the ERA is about equality between the sexes, not sexual orientation, said Ms. Moore, founder of 4ERA.com, an organization that seeks ratification of the federal ERA.
Perhaps, in light of this and other rulings, she said, ERA opponents, “who for 35 years have insisted the ERA will automatically grant same-sex marriage, will finally admit their claims are unjustified.”
But Mrs. Schlafly remains unmoved.
The Maryland court decision was “a big victory for those who uphold traditional marriage,” the founder of Eagle Forum told The Washington Times.
However, “no one can predict for sure whether activist judges will rule based on the plain meaning of the text, or on a real or imagined intent of the sponsors, or on the Lawrence v. Texas ruling that cases can be decided on ‘an emerging awareness’ about conduct, or on the judges’ own theory of the way things should be,” Mrs. Schlafly said.
“ERA remains a tool that judges can use at any time to rule for same-sex marriage,” she added.
In fact, the ERA-obligates-homosexual-marriage argument has prevailed in key courts:
In 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court’s Baehr v. Lewin decision — credited with launching the homosexual “marriage” debate — was based on the state’s ERA.
In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled for the first time in U.S. history that it was unconstitutional to deny homosexual couples marriage licenses. One of the justices cited the state’s ERA as a basis for the court’s decision.View Entire Story
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