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Maryland high court narrowly affirms same-sex marriage ban

[JURIST] The Maryland Court of Appeals [official website] on Tuesday ruled [opinion text, PDF] 4-3 that the state's 1973 law banning same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] is constitutional. In reversing the judgment of the lower Circuit Court, Maryland's highest court held that a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman neither denies individuals fundamental rights nor discriminates illegally on the basis of gender. The plaintiffs, 19 same-sex couples represented in the case [docket, ACLU materials] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], had argued that marriage is a fundamental right which should not be denied according to the parties' genders. The majority opinion did allow that the Maryland General Assembly [official website] can pass legislation recognizing same-sex unions [JURIST news archive] if it chooses to do so.

The ACLU filed the case [JURIST report] in 2004, and the Maryland Court of Appeals later heard oral arguments [JURIST report] on appeal in December 2006. Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock originally ruled against enforcing the 1973 law [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] in January 2006, holding that it subjects same-sex couples to a discriminatory classification based solely on their sexual orientation. AP has more. The Baltimore Sun has local coverage.

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