Couples sue for marriage rights in Maryland
July 07 2004 11:00 PM ET
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued the city of Baltimore and four Maryland counties for the right of same-sex couples to marry. The suit was filed in Baltimore circuit court on behalf of nine couples and a man whose partner recently died. The couples had sought marriage licenses and
were denied, said Ken Choe, staff attorney for the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, based in New York.
Maryland law specifically defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. In February, Attorney General Joseph Curran sent a memo to state legislators and the 24 clerks of the court reminding them that clerks are not authorized to issue licenses to gay couples. Curran's memo also said the law prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. A spokesman said Wednesday that the attorney general had not received a copy of the ACLU lawsuit.
The suit asks the court to declare that the state law is unjustified discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. The suit asks the court to prohibit the 24 circuit court clerks from refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples. "Maryland law excludes hundreds of gay couples the legal protection intended to help families at the time of their greatest need, such as in sickness and death," said Choe.