highest court on Tuesday upheld a state law defining
marriage as a union between a man and a woman, ending
a lawsuit filed by same-sex couples who claimed they
were being denied equal protection under the law.
ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate on the
basis of gender and does not deny any fundamental rights,
the court of appeals ruled in a 4-3 decision.
It also said the state has a legitimate interest in
promoting opposite-sex marriage.
should by no means be read to imply that the general
assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons
civil unions or the right to marry a person of the
same sex,'' Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote for the
both sides of the debate predicted action on the issue in
the next session.
Plaintiffs in the
lawsuit condemned the ruling.
''I think history
will hold them in contempt,'' plaintiff Lisa Polyak
said of the judges. ''To create a legal solution in a
vacuum, that doesn't recognize that the constitution
is there to support the people, is to create an
ignorant and irrelevant solution.''
Richard Madaleno, who is gay, said he plans to introduce a
bill to allow same-sex marriage. He also expects a proposal
to create civil unions.
''I think we'll
have a lengthy discussion next session about what the
options are for legal recognition for gay people,'' Madaleno
Don Dwyer, one of
the general assembly's most conservative members, said
he would introduce a constitutional amendment banning
same-sex marriage as ''insurance.''
Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which provided legal
representation for the plaintiffs, said the fight to
legalize marriage equality in Maryland would continue.
Many of the
plaintiffs have children, and they argue that their families
are being denied the stability and legal protection that
comes from having married parents.
Lisa Kebreau, 39,
and partner Mikki Mozelle, 31, who live in Riverdale,
have three children--ages 17, 2, and 20 months.
wanted them to understand how normal and good their family
is--that their family is just like any other family,''
couples and a gay man whose partner died filed the lawsuit
in 2004 against court clerks who denied their applications
for marriage licenses. Baltimore circuit judge M.
Brooke Murdock in January struck down the law defining
marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but
the state immediately appealed.
was put on hold during the appeal and never took
effect--unlike in Iowa, where same-sex marriage was
legal for less than 24 hours last month. Massachusetts
is the only state where same-sex marriage is legal,
but nine other states have approved spousal rights in some
form for same-sex couples--California,
Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey,
Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. (Ben Nuckols, AP)