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MD: Suit opens challenging state's prohibition of same-sex marriage

“Same-sex marriage is putting every household at risk. Conferring licenses just because two people have a relationship together doesn’t mean that is best for the children.”

— Falwell legal bootlicker Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel

“One of the most distressing parts of this issue for us is that people have used faith as the bedrock of opposition to same-sex marriage, and we want members of the gay community who are religious to know we are there for you. They are not alone.”

— Rev. Anthony McCarthy of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore

Kudos to Unity Fellowship Church for stepping up as members of the faith community on this.

It’s all about the children, isn’t it Matthew? How did it feel when you got your booty kicked last week, after the California Supreme Court ruled gay and lesbian couples who raise children are lawful parents and must provide for their children if they break up. Maryland now enters the fray as a case seeks to overturn the ban on gay marriage, so Liberty Counsel is right there, like an ambulance chaser after an accident.

Liberty has over 700 affiliate attorneys doing pro bono work in states where there are legal challenges to marriage laws. According to this article, Staver plans to file an amicus brief in this case, continuing on if it moves to the appellate level. (Baltimore Sun):

Maryland will become the focus of the volatile national debate on gay rights Tuesday, as a Baltimore Circuit Court judge hears arguments challenging the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriages.

On the eve of the legal fight over whether Maryland’s marriage law discriminates against same-sex couples, a diverse group of about 50 religious leaders gathered Monday at a Bolton Hill church to pledge their support for what they called the couples’ fundamental rights of marriage. Maryland is one of at least six such states — the others are Washington, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California — with pending legal challenges to marriage laws.

In the lawsuit, filed in July last year, nine same-sex couples contend that Maryland’s 1973 law stating that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid violates their constitutional rights. The suit, to be heard by Judge M. Brooke Murdock, names Baltimore City Clerk Frank Conaway and clerks in four other jurisdictions for refusing to issue them marriage licenses.

While lawyers from the Maryland attorney general’s office are defending the court clerks, the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages is backed by many religious leaders The plaintiffs represent a wide diversity of backgrounds and circumstances. For example, a senior gay couple says that without marriage, they cannot be guaranteed the right to make medical decisions for each other. A lesbian couple — one residing in St. Mary’s County, the other in Costa Rica — claim that without marriage they cannot live together in the United States.

…In January, clergy from around the state organized the “Defend Maryland Marriage” rally in front of the State House, calling for the legislature to adopt a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The General Assembly did not act on the proposal.

Instead, lawmakers passed several bills to afford more benefits to gay and lesbian couples — including giving gays protection under the state’s hate-crime statute, and giving domestic partners the right to make medical decisions for their partners. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. signed the hate-crime measure but ve toed the medical decision-making bill.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding