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PJC Files Brief Supporting Right to Same Sex Marriage in Maryland

On June 14, 2005, PJC filed an amicus brief in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City in support of the marriage equality case in Maryland.  The Plaintiffs in this case, same-sex couples in Maryland who wish to marry, are asking the court to declare that the Maryland statute denying same-sex couples the right to marry violates the Declaration of Rights.
 
The brief focuses on examples of prior discriminatory marriage laws in Maryland, which imposed specific religious requirements on the marriage ceremony, barred interracial marriages, and denied equal rights to married women.  These historical examples demonstrate that marriage laws in Maryland have evolved significantly over time, through a gradual but continuous progression toward greater inclusion and equality.  More importantly, the courts have played a critical role in this historical progression, by ameliorating the effects of or, in some cases, invalidating discriminatory marriage laws based on constitutional principles.  Based on this historical perspective, the brief argues that it is entirely appropriate for the Maryland courts now to weigh the next question presented in this historical evolution, and to hold that excluding same-sex couples from the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage violates the Maryland Declaration of Rights, by discriminating against these couples on the basis of sex and sexual orientation and denying them the fundamental right to marry.
 
The amicus brief was written for the Public Justice Center by Murnaghan Appellate Advocacy Fellow Beth Mellen Harrison, and filed on behalf of a diverse coalition of civil rights and community organizations: Equality Maryland; AFL-CIO Pride at Work, District of Columbia/Maryland Chapter; American Friends Service Committee’s Middle Atlantic Region; Baltimore Black Gay Pride; Baltimore Prevention Coalition; Empowering New Concepts/The Portal; Gay Fathers Coalition, Baltimore; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland; Maryland ADAPT; Maryland Latino Coalition for Justice; Maryland Lesbian and Gay Law Association; Maryland Log Cabin Republicans; Maryland NOW; National Lawyers Guild-Maryland; Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays—Metro D.C., Baltimore, Howard County, Bel Air/Susquehanna & Westminster/Carroll County Chapters; Public Justice Center; James & Colette Roberts; and The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, Inc.

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