Same-sex couples do not have the constitutional right to marry in Maryland, according to a 4-3 decision by the Court of Appeals on Sept 18. In upholding a 1973 law that limits marriage to one man and one woman, the state’s highest court reversed the earlier decision of a lower court judge in 2006. Baltimore trial judge M. Brooke Murdock had previously found that the 1973 law violated the state constitution for treating LGBT couples differently.
While rejecting the claim of nine couples who argued that the same-sex marriage ban violated the state constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment, which bars discrimination based on sex, the Court of Appeals found no fundamental right to same-sex marriage. Judge Glenn Harrell, Jr. wrote for the majority that homosexuality is not an “immutable characteristic” that one is born with, such as gender or race, and consequently it does not deserve special consideration by the state.
Same-sex marriage advocates led by Equality Maryland have vowed to take their fight to the
legislativearena of the General Assembly, where Democrats predominate, although they hold divergent views on marriage. Currently, Senator Gwendolyn Britt and Delegate Victor Ramirez,
both Democrats representing the Prince George’s County area near Washington, D.C., have pledged to sponsor bills to extend marriage to same-