It's all about baby steps. Of course we're hearing the usual "activist judges" nonsense, and how this is going to destroy marriage and destroy our freedom and society and whatnot, but it's a step nonetheless.
I think it very intersting that the opinion rests not on discrimination based on sexual orientation, but based on gender. I'm not sure if the logic can hold, particularly when Washington and Vermont rejected that argument. It goes like this: [The law] bars a man from marrying a male partner when a woman would enjoy the right to marry that same male partner. As compared to the woman, the man is disadvantaged solely because of his sex." Deane & Polyak v. Conway, 24-C-04-005390, Slip op. at 10 (Md. Cir. 2006).
Applying even a rational basis test, though, the court found there was no legitimate state interest served.
First, the court said that "the prevention of same-sex marriages is wholly unconnected to promoting the rearing of children by married, opposite-sex partents. This Court, like others, can find no rational connection between the prevention of same-sex marriages and an increase or decrease in the number of children born to those unions." The court also rejected the argument that opposite-sex households were the optimal environment to raise kids. Id at 15.
The Government had also argued that the law was necessary to preserve federal and interstate definitional uniformity. The Court also rejected this argument: "Under Defendants' analysis, a denial of a right, invalid under the Maryland Constitution, would be validated in Maryland when another state acted identically, engaging in conduct that would have been unconstitutional in Maryland except for the very fact of the other state's action." Id. at 17.
The Court finally smacked down the tradition argument:
Although tradition and societyal values are important, they cannot be given so
much weight that they alone will justify a discriminatory statutory classification. When tradition is the guise under which predjudice or animosity hides, it is not a legitimate state interest. Similarly, expressing moral disapproval of a class is not sufficient to sustain a classification where there is no other legitimate state interest.
Take that, conservatives.