Md. Gay Couples Lose Marriage Court Battle

Maryland's highest court on Tuesday narrowly upheld the state's marriage law as a union between one man and one woman.

The state's Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-3 decision that the 1973 ban on same-sex "marriage" does not discriminate on the basis of gender and does not deny any fundamental rights. The 244-page decision on the case Conaway v. Deane also said the state has a legitimate interest in fostering procreation, encouraging the traditional family structure and promoting heterosexual marriages.

"We're pleased that the Maryland Court of Appeals did not allow the demands of advocates of homosexual behavior to be furthered in this case," said Chris Stovall, senior legal counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Family Research Council (FRC).

Commending the court ruling, FRC president Tony Perkins said, "Marriage is a specific union and not an open-ended question, and it benefits all of us to protect that special bond."

Stovall, however, warned that those advocating traditional marriage should not let their guard down.

"The court appropriately ruled that the proper place for public policy is with the public and the policymakers, not the judiciary. It remains critical for voters not to be lulled to sleep by this victory. It is crucially important that Americans support state marriage amendments, and, ultimately, a federal marriage amendment."

Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. had also written in the decision, "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."

The legal battle over same-sex "marriage" is not over as state Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is openly gay, said he plans to introduce a bill to allow homosexual couples to "marry."

Nine gay and lesbian couples, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, had filed a lawsuit claiming that Maryland law defining marriage solely between a man and a woman was unconstitutional, according to ADF. In January 2006, a state circuit court ruled that denying marriage to the couples was "sex discrimination" and in violation of the state's Equal Rights Amendment. The decision was appealed to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

"The union of a man and woman has been the fundamental social unit in every society," said ADF's Stovall. "The opponents of marriage aren't merely trying to redefine marriage, they're trying to eliminate it. Political special interests shouldn't trump what's in the best interest of families and children. Who's more important: our children or special interest groups?"

Currently, Massachusetts is the only state where gay "marriage" is legal.