Maryland Gay Marriage Ban Holds Up

Yesterday the Court of Appeals of Maryland, that state’s highest court, upheld a statutory ban on same sex marriages. There’s a news account here courtesy of the Baltimore Sun.

The plaintiffs, including nine same-sex couples denied marriage licenses because of the ban, asserted that the statute violated multiple provisions of the state constitution, including Maryland’s equal rights amendment, equal protection provision and due process guarantee. Four of the seven Court of Appeals judges voted to reject all the constitutional challenges and uphold the law.

Two judges agreed with the plaintiffs that the law was subject to “strict scrutiny” and thus could only stand if the government proved that the ban was the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling state interest. Those judges would have remanded the case to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing.

The seventh judge wanted to adopt the approach taken last year in the New Jersey Supreme Court case Lewis v. Harris, 908 A.2d 196 (N .J. 2006). There, the court gave the state legislature two options: (1) revise the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples; or (2) enact a separate statutory scheme under which same-sex couples can get all the legal rights and obligations of marriage without actually calling the arrangement “marriage.”

The whole shootin’ match, totaling a mind-numbing 244 pages, is available in pdf here.

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