Same-sex marriage in Maryland
Impeachment, Appeal ruling.
Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage:
Thirty one legislators who were opposed to marriage equity in the state
attempted to initiate an amendment to the state constitution that would restrict
marriages to one man and one woman. If passed, it would have been submitted to
the voters for a vote.
Called "Maryland's Marriage Protection Act", (HB
48) was rejected by the Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of
Delegates on 2006-FEB-02. 1
Two subsequent attempts were made in the Senate to pass similar amendments: SB 262 2 and SB 690 3
Both were tied up in committee and died when the legislature recessed in
Attempt to impeach Judge Murdock:
Wikipedia reported that on 2006-MAR-07, Delegate Dwyer:
"... introduced a resolution in the Maryland General Assembly to impeach
Judge M. Brooke Murdock, charging her with 'violating the public trust,
abuse of power, incompetence, willful neglect of duty, and misbehavior in
office' for her Circuit Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage.
Dwyer's resolution was defeated by a 19-3 vote in the Judiciary Committee on
March 10." 4
Maryland Court of Appeals issues ruling:
The court dismissed the appeal on 2007-SEP-18.
5 Equality Maryland, a group that
supports equal marriage rights for persons of all sexual orientations,
"The vote in the case was 4 to 3. One of the dissenting judges said the
legislature should either be required to adopt civil unions or marriage. The
other two said that the case should be sent back to the lower court for a
trial to see if government has a good enough reason to bar same-sex couples
from marriage. The majority opinion rejected the ACLU's arguments that
barring same-sex couples from marriage is sex discrimination."
Knight Ridder Tribune published the following editorial titled "A civil
"A fractured Maryland Court of Appeals couldn't agree on a constitutional
basis for affirming the right of same-sex couples to marry or even to share
in the legal benefits that marriage provides."
"But yesterday's ruling, issued in four separate versions by the seven
judges, pointedly invited the General Assembly to provide the statutory
underpinnings that will allow Maryland to reflect the societal shift under
way toward acceptance of gay unions. That's an entreaty Gov. Martin O'Malley
and the lawmakers ought to quickly accept. The high court's tortured
decision underscores how difficult it is to continue to defend limiting
marriage to a man and a woman on the basis of tradition and antiquated
notions about procreation. Chief Judge Robert M. Bell was among two vigorous
dissenters. He equated denying a marriage license on the basis of gender to
the prohibition on interracial marriages long ago voided by the Supreme
"Only four of the seven judges, including two who postponed retirements to
finish work on the case, could justify denying committed homosexual couples
the myriad statutory and financial benefits that come along with marriage.
In holding that same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right protected in
Maryland or a guarantee of the state's Equal Rights Amendment, the court
sounded downright uncomfortable with the status quo. 'Our opinion 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,' said Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr., writing for those who
concluded either such right exists under current law."
"The decision was disappointing in part because courts in other states have
gone much further to assert marital benefits, if not necessarily the right
to marry. Further, the high court overturned a courageous ruling last year
by Baltimore Circuit Judge M Brooke Murdock, who called a 1973 state law
limiting marriage to one man and one woman 'an unjustified discrimination
based on gender.' Her ruling so outraged anti-gay activists that they
launched an unsuccessful drive to impeach her. Such small but vocal
minorities make legislating on this issue very difficult. But a progressive
state such as Maryland, where voters have affirmed gay rights on referendum,
should not falter in taking it on."
"For longer than anyone knows, gay couples have made Maryland their home.
They live here, work here and raise their children here. They share
communities with single mothers and divorced fathers and longtime
heterosexual companions who choose not to marry even if they do have
children. Nothing the legislature does is likely to change the patterns of
human behavior. But it can ensure that all those who make up the fabric of
Maryland are treated as equally as possible by the law."
Dan Furmansky of Equality Maryland issued a letter to supporters on
"What a week. We're all reeling from the terrible feeling of having seven
people 'judge' that the provisions of equality in the Maryland Constitution
do not apply to those of us who are gay or lesbian. It's painful to be told
that we can be legally barred from the fundamental protections that stem
from a civil marriage license because we weren't incontrovertibly born gay,
can't accidentally impregnate someone or be accidentally impregnated, are
too politically powerful, or could just go ahead and marry someone of the
"To me, it feels like the Pocomoke River, Leakin Park, Sugarloaf Mountain,
and Sligo Creek Park are less beautiful than they were last week, because
they are in a state where we and our children are not valued as equals,
deserving of the same right to pursue happiness as all others. It feels
confusing, denigrating, and insulting."
"Equality Maryland's staff and boards share your feelings of disbelief and
shock. We are taking the time to be angry and sad, but rest assured, we are
already moving ahead. As you have likely heard, we will be asking the
Maryland General Assembly to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage
Protection Act during their 2008 session. We have ensured this legislation
protects religions and their right to refuse to perform weddings with which
they disagree. The bill also avoids creating a separate legal
classification, i.e., civil unions, for our relationships, which is divisive
and exclusionary. It is necessary to begin this dialogue in a position of
strength and moral conviction, demanding full legal equality. ..."
"This dialogue about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples isn't about
homosexuality. It's about the nature of a just and civil society. It's about
examining what justifications people use to treat others differently,
stigmatize their children, and deny them basic rights to hospital
visitation, inheritance, insurance, social services, social security, family
leave, and so much more."
"When the New York Court of Appeals in June of 2006 issued a similar opinion
to the one issued by Maryland's high court, gay and lesbian New Yorkers were
demoralized. But they picked themselves up, and within one year, they had
passed a marriage equality bill out of their Assembly. And just this month,
California's legislature again passed a marriage equality bill and sent it
to the Governor. Indeed, Equality Maryland staff is meeting today to discuss
our legislative strategy, and we will need all of you to be part of that
strategy by talking to your legislators, attending next year's Lobby Day,
and explaining to your neighbors why legal protections are necessary. We are
also in the process of launching a canvassing campaign that will talk to
over 150,000 households in Maryland in the next few months. We are not
"We all had hoped there would be an end in sight to what seems like a
never-ending struggle to be treated with fairness under the law, and this
week, that ending was placed further out of our reach. Still, societal
change is happening rapidly, faster than many of us imagined possible, and
we will indeed prevail in our quest for justice. It may not happen
overnight, but the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act will
be the law of the land. Those of you reading this email will be the guiding
force behind this crucial legal and social change. Until then, Equality
Maryland will continue to ask nothing less than full equality under the law.
We must continue to canoe the Pocomoke, bike through Sligo Creek, climb
Sugarloaf Mountain, and embrace the beauty, diversity and richness of
Maryland - a state with tremendous progressive potential and a growing will
by its residents to do right by all citizens."
CitizenLink, a publication of Focus on the Family
Action -- a fundamentalist Christian group that opposes marriage equality --
stated on 2007-SEP-18:
"Jenny Tyree, associate marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action,
called it a significant decision."
" 'The Maryland court upheld two important ideas: that the marriage laws
do not discriminate, and that procreation is a rational basis for the
Legislature to protect marriage in the state,' she said. 'It's an especially
heartening decision as we see evidence that children do best with a married
mom and dad. This decision confirms that marriage is not a legal institution
for the purpose of equality; it's a social institution with children at its
"State Sen. Richard Madaleno has announced he will introduce a bill to
allow same-sex 'marriage.' That's why Doug Stiegler, executive director of
the Association of Maryland Families, said the state needs a constitutional
amendment protecting marriage."
" 'While we are delighted that the court made the ruling,' he said, 'our
job is still cut out for us'." 9
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- The text of HB 48 can be seen at:
- The text of SB 262 can be seen at:
- The text of SB 690 can be seen at:
- "Same-sex marriage in Maryland," Wikipedia, 2007-JAN-18, at:
- Text of "Frank Conaway, et al. v. Gitanjali Deane , et al.,"
is online at:
- "ACLU and Equality Maryland Denounce
4 to 3 Decision by Maryland High Court Denying Marriage Protections for Same-Sex
Couples. Struggle For Fairness Moves to the State Legislature," Press Release,
Equality Maryland, 2007-SEP-18, at:
- "A civil right," Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, 2007-SEP-19, at:
- Dan Furmansky, "We are Not Done," Equality Maryland, 2007-SEP-20, at:
- Devon Williams, "Maryland High Court
Affirms Marriage," CitizenLink, 2007-SEP-18, at:
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Copyright © 2007 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-MAR-03
Latest update: 2010-JAN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson