Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007

Maryland’s high court upholds ban on same-sex marriage

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Maryland’s highest court on Tuesday upheld a state law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The Court of Appeals held that Maryland’s 1973 ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against same-sex couples, who argued that they were being denied their fundamental right to marriage.

The court found that there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Gay rights advocates and same-sex marriage opponents have anxiously awaited the ruling that was expected months ago in the case of Conaway v. Deane.

Both sides said the issue is far from resolved.

Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. said he still plans to sponsor a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage for the General Assembly to consider next year.

‘‘The court has done right by the Maryland citizens in upholding Maryland’s law,” said Dwyer (R-Dist. 31) of Glen Burnie.

The issue continues to be ‘‘polarizing,” he said.

‘‘Clearly, it’s an issue that is important to the citizens of Maryland and to Americans across this country,” Dwyer said.

Gay rights advocacy group Equality Maryland will hold rallies at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Unitarian Church, 1 West Hamilton Street in Baltimore and at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Glen Dale in support of marriage equality.

‘‘Obviously, we’re extremely disappointed that the court has decided to continue to drag out this discrimination against same-sex couples in Maryland by barring same-sex marriage,” said Dan Furmansky, Equality Maryland’s executive director.

The opinion knocked down arguments against same-sex marriage before saying the state had a rational basis for limiting legal marriage to a man and a woman for the purpose of fostering procreation, Furmansky said.

Allowing same-sex couples to marry does nothing to hinder procreation, he said. ‘‘There’s just no logic to it.”

Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt (D-Dist. 47) of Landover Hills and Del. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Dist. 47) of Mount Rainier have pledged to sponsor a marriage equality bill, Furmansky said.

‘‘This court case has been more than just about using all branches of government to remedy discrimination,” he said. ‘‘It’s been about educating legislators and neighbors about the harms faced by same-sex couples and their children because of the inability to marry. We fully intend to fight for fair and equal protection under the law for our families.”

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