Judge Rejects Md. Anti-Gay Marriage Law

By Staff and Wire Reports
Friday, January 20, 2006; 11:03 AM

A Baltimore judge ruled today that same-sex couples should be given the right to marry.

Judge M. Brooke Murdock ruled that Maryland's ban on gay marriage "cannot withstand constitutional challenge."

Murdock wrote that "while tradition and societal values are important," they're not enough to justify a discriminatory law.

The decision is expected to be appealed to Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals. Murdock's order will be stayed pending the appeal.

Nineteen gay men and women filed a lawsuit in Baltimore arguing that the state's ban on same-sex marriages violates the guarantee of equal rights under the state constitution. The state passed a law in 1973 specifying that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

State attorneys had argued that granting same-sex couples the right to marry could create a conflict with federal law.

The lawsuit vaulted Maryland into the national debate over who has access to the legal, societal and emotional advantages of marriage, attracting attention from other states and national groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped represent the palintiffs.

The suit was filed against court clerks in Prince George's, St. Mary's, Dorchester and Washington counties and the city of Baltimore.

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