Monday, December 04, 2006

Argue About Equality

Maryland's highest court jumps into the debate over gay marriage today when it hears arguments in Frank Conaway et al. v. Gitanjali Deane et al.

Legalizing same-sex marriage is the right thing to do as a matter of social and economic policy. One need only to look at the thousands of benefits denied to individuals because of their sexuality to see that recognizing marriage between two people of the same gender would reap benefits not only for them but for Maryland as a whole.

But Conaway isn't about whether same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. Rather, at issue in this case is the constitutional question of whether Maryland law prohibits the marriage of two persons of the same gender.

The answer is yes. The relevant statutory law currently on the books prohibits same-sex marriage. Section 2-201 of Maryland Family Law, enacted in 1973, provides that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid." Yet, as Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock found in January 2006, this statute "violates Article 46 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights because it discriminates, based on gender against a suspect class; and is not narrowly tailored to serve any compelling governmental interests."

Not only is social policy on the side of equality, but the Constitution is too. Hopefully the Court of Appeals will recognize the protections against discrimination afforded by Maryland's constitutional law.

Watch a live webcast of the oral arguments beginning at 10am

from The League: Reassembled


Blogger Stephanie Dray said...

The Maryland Constitution is considerably more geared towards individual liberties even than the U.S. Constitution. Our Founders thought the Bill of Rights did not go far enough. So it will be interesting to see what happens.

12/04/2006 02:11:00 PM  

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