One of the Presbyterian Church (USA) districts voted to support an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) suit to legalize civil marriages of homosexual couples in Maryland through the state courts on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004.
The Layman, an independent publication that monitors the actions of the PC(USA) with an ultra-conservative voice, reported that Thursdays vote placed the Baltimore presbytery on the list of amicus curiae (friend of the court) to the ACLU.
Charles Forbes, head of the Presbytery of Baltimore, said the amicus curiae have not yet been written and the other religious organizations supporting the ACLU efforts to legalize homosexual marriage has not been identified.
According to the Layman, the Presbytery of Baltimore will be taking a position that conflicts with the Constitution of the PC(USA) by joining the case as advocates of same-gender marriages.
The PC(USA) voted this year to maintain text in its constitution that assures marriage as between a woman and a man only, during its 216th assembly. During the same meeting, the delegates voted to prohibit its staff from taking a stance on gay marriage proposals.
Forbes added that the debate on whether the presbytery will join the amicus curiae lasted only 45 minutes; the final vow, made during the Presbyterys annual meeting, was 51-35 in favor of joining.
According to the Layman, the Baltimore Presbyterys decision join the pro-homosexual marriage team goes in line with the regions history of supporting gay rights. Forbes is also a member of the That All May Freely Serve group within the PC(USA) that has been trying over the years to repeal the denominations ban on gay ordinations and marriage blessings
Should the ACLUs Maryland case be successful, the state may follow in the ways of Massachusetts legalized homosexual marriage.
Matt Coles, Director of the ACLUs Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, meanwhile said similar lawsuits are headed to several other states, including California, Washington, New York an Florida.
Lawsuits to end the exclusion will go forward in New York, California, Washington, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut and Indiana. Same-sex couples will marry, and become fully a part of the American landscape. The promise of equality in our constitution demands no less. And sooner or later, that promise will be kept, he said.