Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

The New Mexico Supreme Court at the outset of Wednesday's hearing

I have to agree with something Arizona lawyer James Campbell said after this morning's hearing at the Supreme Court. Campbell, who argued against allowing same-sex marriage in New Mexico, was asked how he thought the justices would decide.He diplomatically brushed off the question, saying he never gets caught up in the game of predicting how judges were going to rule.

That's sound advice. Remember the U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Obama when all the pundits were predicting that the law would be struck down based on the questions and comments of the justices.

The same-sex marriage plaintiffs and their legal
team following the Supreme Court hearing
After the hearing, at least one opponent of gay marriage was predicting the court would rule against his position. “I think the die was cast before we came in here,” said State Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, told me during a break. But, Sharer stressed, if that's true, there will be a serious effort in the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment to declare marriage is between one man and one woman. (Conservatives have tried to pass this nearly every year I've been covering the Roundhouse.)

Still, there was reason to think Sharer may be right about the ultimate decision of Court. Some of the questioning of Campbell did seem pretty tough.

At one point in the hearing, Justice Richard Bosson asked Campbell point blank, “Why shouldn’t you be able to marry who you choose?”

Campbell argued that the government has a compelling interest in marriage because it encourages “procreative relationships,” Bosson countered that in state marriage laws “there’s not word one about encouraging procreation.”

Justice Charles Daniels pointed out that opposite-sex couples get to file joint tax returns and have inheritance rights and joint-ownership rights whether or not they have children, Daniels also asked Campbell how allowing gay people to marry would discourage heterosexual couples from getting married.

Justice Barbara Vigil asked Campbell for “empirical data” that being raised by same-sex parents is adverse for children. Campbell conceded there isn’t such data. But he cited statistics from The Netherlands that the marriage rate went down and the rate of children born to unwed mothers went up after that country legalized gay marriage.

This might appear that the court wasn't impressed with Campbell's arguments.

Maybe they weren't. But remember, it's not always easy to predict how a judge will rule.

See more about the hearing in tomorrow's New Mexican.

Updated: 5:19 pm Here's a video of Sen. Sharer after the hearing, courtesy state Senate GOP spokeswoman Diane Kinderwater. (This isn't the conversation between Sharer and myself I referred to above, but he's saying basically the same thing.)