Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Court agrees to hear gay marriage appeal

Court agrees to hear gay marriage appeal
Copyright by Gay Chicago Magazine

ANNAPOLIS, MD (AP) - Maryland’s highest court has agreed to hear a challenge to the ruling by a circuit court judge in January that the state law banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

In a brief order, the Court of Appeals granted a motion to bypass the Court of Special Appeals and put the case on the docket for arguments in December. That means there will be no action on the politically explosive issue until after the November election.

The decision to bypass the intermediate appeals court was not a surprise since the Court of Appeals sometimes takes cases directly when new and important legal questions are at stake.

Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock struck down the law defining marriage as between one man and one woman Jan. 20, but stayed the effect of her ruling while it was being appealed by the state.

The suit was filed on behalf of gay couples who had been denied marriage licenses by circuit court clerks in St. Mary’s, Dorchester, Prince George’s and Washington counties and Baltimore city.

Murdock said in a written opinion that the law “discriminates based on gender.”

“There is no apparent compelling state interest in a statutory prohibition of same-sex marriage discriminating, on the basis of sex, against those individuals whose gender is identical to their intended spouses,” the ruling said.

Opponents of gay marriage tried during the 2006 General Assembly session to get legislative approval of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, but the amendment was killed by the House Judiciary Committee and then by the full House of Delegates.

Republicans pushed hard for the amendment, hoping it would be on the ballot in November and help boost turnout by conservatives who would then be likely to support GOP candidates for state and local offices. Democrats did not want the issue on the ballot, and Democratic leaders predicted the Court of Appeals would uphold the state law. They said it would be premature to amend the constitution while the ban on gay marriage remained in effect.


Post a Comment

<< Home