The court noted that, when tradition is offered as a justification for preserving a statutory scheme challenged on equal protection grounds, the court must determine whether the reasons underlying the tradition are sufficient to satisfy constitutional requirements. These reasons, the court found, must be something other than the preservation of tradition by itself....Here, the County offered no governmental reason underlying the tradition of limiting marriage to heterosexual couples....
Not surprising to anyone who's followed the fight for gay marriage. Opponents often cite "tradition" and claim gays marrying will somehow harm the institution, yet fail to explain exactly how that would happen. Tradition in and of itself is not a reason to preserve inequity in the law.
On "optimal environment for children," the court "found support for the proposition that the interests of children are served equally by same-sex parents and opposite sex parents..." Still, there "reasoned opinions" exist that supported the claim that heterosexual couples provide the optimal environment for raising kids. Still, the court rejected this argument for two reasons.
First, "if the marriage statute was truly focused on optimal parenting, many classifications of people would be excluded, not merely gay and lesbian people." The state currently allows violent felons, child abusers, and sexual predators to marry, classifications that clearly make poor parents. Second, because gays are currently allowed to raise children, a gay marriage ban would actually hurt children in those families. In short, a ban would actually work to achieve the opposite of what it argues.
On "promotion of procreation":
The court found no argument to support the conclusion that a goal of additional procreation would be substantially furthered by the exclusion of gays and lesbians from civil marriage.
Yeah, like the existence of gay marriage would keep those randy kids from rutting! Not likely...
On "promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships":
The court acknowledged that, while the institution of civil marriage likely encourages stability in opposite-sex relationships, there was no evidence to support that excluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage makes opposite-sex marriage more stable.
This argument - that a gay marriage ban promotes stability in opposite-sex relationships - was one of the main reasons the New York Supreme Court upheld that state's ban back in 2006. According to that decision, gays are just too stable because their sex doesn't lead to children:
These couples can become parents by adoption, or by artificial insemination or other technological marvels, but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse.
...[U]nstable relationships between people of the opposite sex present a greater danger that children will be born into or grow up in unstable homes than is the case with same-sex couples, and thus that promoting stability in opposite sex relationships will help children more.
Which contradicts the previous arguments that heterosexual couples (a) make better parents and that (b) gay marriage would discourage procreation, doesn't it?
Furthermore, it's just silly. Why exclude couples from the institution of marriage because they're more successful at providing stability for their children? Don't stable relationships serve society? And does anyone really think that allowing gays to marry discourages straight couples from marrying? If anything, the opposite seems to be true: Massachusetts - the first state to allow gay marriage - has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. Sure, I could be mixing up correlation with causation, but it's demonstrable that gays haven't wrecked the institution in that state.
On "conservation of resources":
The argument in support of the same-sex marriage ban is based on a simple premise: civilly married couples enjoy numerous governmental benefits, so the state's fiscal burden associated with civil marriage is reduced if less people are allowed to marry. While the ban on same-sex marriage may conserve some state resources, so would excluding any number of identifiable groups. However, under intermediate scrutiny the sexual-orientation-based classification must substantially further the conservation-of-resources objective. Here again, the court found it was over- and under-inclusive and did not substantially further the suggested governmental interest.
That is, there are identifiable groups that use more state resources, and a gay marriage ban might actually cause current gay families to use more state resources than they otherwise would if they were allowed to marry.
This decision is excellent, not for its outcome, but because of the way the court ruthlessly unleashed logic and law on the arguments against gay marriage. Sadly, that has not always been the case - take the New York and Washington decisions, for example, whose arguments supporting gay marriage bans were so illogical and ill-argued that it was obvious politics came into play in those decisions.
Clearly, no societal harm would occur by allowing gays access to the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexual couples enjoy. And, I'd argue, clear societal harm is done by prohibiting gays from marrying...