Recognition of same-sex unions in Maryland: Wikis

  
  

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The U.S. state of Maryland does not currently perform same-sex marriage. In 2004, supporters of same-sex marriage filed a lawsuit, Deane & Polyak v. Conaway, which sought to allow these unions to occur in the state. The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, heard oral arguments on December 4, 2006, and ruled against the plaintiffs on September 18, 2007, leaving the legal ban on same-sex marriage in place.

In recent sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, legislators opposed to same-sex marriage have attempted, without success, to enact an amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. However, in 2008 the General Assembly did pass two bills establishing a limited form of domestic partnership in the state.

On February 24, 2010, Attorney General of Maryland Doug Gansler released an opinion that same-sex marriages performed in other states could be recognized in Maryland. The opinion does not allow same-sex couples to wed in Maryland and is not legally binding, but is meant to serve as a guide for judges and state agencies.[1]

Contents

Current law

Maryland Family Law, Section 2-201, provides that "[o]nly a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in the state".[2]

This law was implemented in 1973, and was the first of its kind in the United States that defined marriage.[citation needed] Prior to 1973, there was no definition of marriage in the laws or statutes in all states.[citation needed]

Conaway v. Deane & Polyak

On July 7, 2004, the American Civil Liberties Union, in partnership with Equality Maryland, filed a lawsuit (Deane & Polyak et al. v. Conaway et al.) on behalf of nine same-sex couples and one man whose partner had recently died.[3] The plaintiffs had applied for marriage licenses in several Maryland jurisdictions, but their applications were denied by the respective county clerks, who are named as the defendants in the case. In their complaint, the plaintiffs asserted, among other things, that the state's prohibition of same-sex marriage violated Article 46 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.[4]

[It] was a disappointing decision. It was very mediocre and the reasoning was shallow and inadequate. They never explained how if procreation is somehow central to marriage—which legally it clearly is not—how denying gay people the right to marry promotes procreation.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry on the 2007 decision, [5]

On August 30, 2005, oral arguments from each side were presented to Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock. On January 20, 2006, Murdock ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, writing that "Maryland's statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage cannot withstand this constitutional challenge. Family law §2-201 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."[6]

Judge Murdock immediately stayed the decision pending an appeal by the office of the Maryland Attorney General.[7] On July 27, 2006, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, agreed to hear the appeal directly, bypassing an intermediate court.[8] Oral arguments were heard on December 4, 2006.[8]

On September 18, 2007, the Court of Appeals ruled against the plaintiffs in a 4-3 decision, leaving the statutory ban on same-sex marriage in place.[9]

Reaction to the lawsuit

While many civil rights groups hailed Judge Murdock's decision, opponents of same-sex marriage reacted by stepping up efforts to prevent legal recognition of such unions. Legislators opposed to same-sex marriage, led by Delegate Don Dwyer, have introduced several measures since the lawsuit was filed.[10]

Constitutional amendment

During the 2006 and 2007 sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, legislators opposed to same-sex marriage proposed several amendments to the Maryland Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. If enacted, such an amendment would have the effect of keeping the prohibition on same-sex marriage in effect regardless of the outcome of Deane & Polkay v. Conaway or any future lawsuit.

One such proposed amendment, HB 48, was rejected by the Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates on February 2, 2006. Prior to the vote, some committee members, who opposed the bill, amended it to create civil unions while banning same-sex marriage. This resulted in a unanimous committee vote to reject the proposed constitutional amendment.[10] Other amendment proposals (such as SB 262 and SB 690) were also introduced in 2006, but none were passed out of committee before the session came to an end in April.

Two similar proposals (SB 564 and HB 919) were introduced in the 2007 legislative session; once again, neither of them was passed out of committee. The latter amendment, which would have also banned the discussion of same-sex unions in schools, was defeated in the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 12-8 on March 22.[11]

Impeachment attempt

On March 7, 2006, Delegate Dwyer introduced a resolution in the Maryland General Assembly to impeach Judge M. Brooke Murdock, charging her with "violating the public trust, abuse of power, incompetence, willful neglect of duty, and misbehavior in office" for her Circuit Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage. Dwyer's resolution was defeated by a 19–3 vote in the Judiciary Committee on March 10.[12] Dwyer has also announced an intention to initiate impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Gansler, in reaction to Gansler's legal opinion finding that same-sex marriage could be recognized in Maryland.

2008 legislative session

State Senator Gwendolyn Britt of Landover Hills and Delegate Victor R. Ramirez of Mount Rainier were expected to submit a bill during the 2008 session to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland.[13] Britt died on January 12, 2008. On January 25, 2008, House Bill 351 was introduced to amend Section 2-201 to define marriage as between "two people, not otherwise prohibited from marrying."[14] A bill in the Senate was also introduced by Senators Richard Madaleno and Jamie Raskin in Britt's place.[15] Roughly one quarter of each chamber has signed on as cosponsors of the bill.[14][15] If passed, it would have become effective October 1, 2008.[16] The House bill was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on February 28, 2008.[17] The hearings were taped by Maryland Public Television.[17]

Equality Maryland held a rally in support of the bills on February 11, 2008.[18]

Domestic partnership legislation

Although neither of the same-sex marriage bills were passed, the General Assembly did establish a weak form of domestic partnership in Maryland by the passage of two pieces of legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 566 and SB 597. SB 566 [1] includes 11 protections for domestic partners, including hospital visitation and the making of funeral arrangements for each other; SB 597 [2] allows a domestic partner's name to be added or removed from the deed of a residence, without incurring a tax liability, as with married spouses.

According to the General Assembly's own summary of SB 597, domestic partners are defined in that state as adults (same-sex or different-sex) in "a relationship of mutual interdependence" who are not related by blood and who are not in a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership with anyone else.[3] The law did not establish a domestic partnership registry, so couples may be required by officials or facilities to prove that their partnership exists by providing a sworn affidavit along with two other documents enumerated in the law, such as evidence of a joint mortgage, checking account, or insurance coverage, among others.[19]

The two bills were signed into law by Governor Martin O'Malley on May 22, and came into effect on July 1, 2008.[20]

2009 legislative session

Like the 2008 legislative session, two bills on same-sex marriage faced the legislature. A bill that would have amended the Maryland constitution to ban same-sex marriage died in the House Judiciary Committee with a vote of 13-6-1.[21] A bill that would have allowed same-sex marriage is also not moving through committee, according to Equality Maryland Executive Director Kate Runyon.[21]

Attorney General's Opinion

On February 24, 2010, Maryland's Attorney General, Doug Gansler, issued an opinion that Maryland law could recognize same-sex marriages performed in other U.S. states which permit same-sex marriage. [1][22] According to Attorney General Gansler, the opinion is binding on state agencies effective immediately.[23]

Economic impact

A UCLA study estimated that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples would result in a net gain of approximately $3.2 million each year to the state budget.[24] The study drew on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Maryland statistical reports. The gain is attributable to savings in expenditures on means-tested public-benefit programs and an increase in sales and lodging tax revenue from weddings and wedding-related tourism.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Linskey, Annie; Bykowicz, Julie (February 24, 2010). "Gansler says Md. could recognize same-sex marriages". The Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bal-same-sex-marriage-opinion0224,0,2960885.story. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Maryland Statute Article - Family Law §2–201.". 1973. http://mlis.state.md.us/asp/statutes_respond.asp?article=gfl&section=2-201&Extension=HTML. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  3. ^ White, Pamela J. (2005-06-24). "Deane & Polyak et al. v. Conaway et al." (PDF). EqualityMaryland. http://www.equalitymaryland.org/pdfs/amicusbrief_first_franklin.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  4. ^ Baida, Andrew H. et al.. "Deane & Polyak et al. v. Conaway et al. Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief" (PDF). ACLU. http://www.aclu.org/FilesPDFs/deane%20polyak%20complaint.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  5. ^ Interview with Evan Wolfson, David Shankbone, September 30, 2007
  6. ^ Murdock, M. Brooke. "Circuit Court for Baltimore City Case No.: 24-C-04-005390" (PDF). http://www.baltocts.state.md.us/civil/highlighted_trials/Memorandum.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  7. ^ Bykowicz, Julie (2006-01-24). "Judge lands in spotlight". Baltimore Sun. Tribune Company. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-md.murdock24jan24,1,665817.story?ctrack=3&cset=true. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  8. ^ a b Brewington, Kelly (2006-07-28). "Judges to hear same-sex lawsuit". Baltimore Sun. Tribune Company. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-te.md.marriage28jul28,1,7511557.story?coll=bal-home-headlines. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  9. ^ Harrell, Raker (2007-09-18). "Court of Appeals of Maryland Opinion on Frank Conaway, et al. v. Gitanjali Deane, et al., No. 44, Sept. Term 2006" (PDF). http://mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2007/44a06.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  10. ^ a b Brewington, Kelly (2006-02-03). "Marriage measure rejected". Baltimore Sun. Tribune Company. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/baltsun/access/980752721.html?dids=980752721:980752721&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Feb+3%2C+2006&author=KELLY+BREWINGTON&pub=The+Sun&desc=Marriage+measure+rejected+. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  11. ^ Lynsen, Joshua (2006-03-22). "Md. legislature kills same-sex marriage ban". Washington Blade Online. Window Media, LLC. http://www.washblade.com/thelatest/thelatest.cfm?blog_id=12099. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  12. ^ Weill-Greenberg, Elizabeth (2006-03-17). "Move to impeach Md. judge fails". Washington Blade Online. Window Media, LLC. http://www.washblade.com/2006/3-17/news/localnews/murdock.cfm. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  13. ^ Sedam, Sean R. (2007-09-18). "Maryland’s high court upholds ban on same-sex marriage". Gazette.Net. Post-Newsweek Media, Inc.. http://www.gazette.net/stories/091807/montnew123618_32369.shtml. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  14. ^ a b Ramirez, Victor R.; et al. (2008-01-25). "House Bill 351" (PDF). http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/bills/hb/hb0351f.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  15. ^ a b Madaleno, Richard; et al. (2008-01-25). "Senate Bill 290". http://mlis.state.md.us/2008rs/billfile/SB0290.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  16. ^ "House Bills and Joint Resolutions, 2008 Maryland General Assembly Session" (PDF). 2008-01-25. http://mlis.state.md.us/2008rs/synopsis/sH012510.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  17. ^ a b "Hearing Schedule for: February 28, 2008". http://mlis.state.md.us/2008RS/hearsch/0214_0228_1649.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  18. ^ "Equality Maryland Lobby Day". http://equalitymaryland.org/lobby_day/lobby_day_2008.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  19. ^ "Legislation - Health Care Facility Visitation and Medical Decisions". EqualityMaryland. http://www.equalitymaryland.org/legislation/health_care_faq.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  20. ^ Agnese, Kevin (2008-05-23). "O'Malley signs domestic partnership bills into law". Political Ticker MD. http://www.politickermd.com/kevinagnese/2373/omalley-signs-domestic-partner-bills-law. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  21. ^ a b Cavanaugh, Amy (Friday, Apr 03, 2009). "Marriage bills, pro and con, falter in Maryland". Washington Blade (Window Media, LLC). http://www.washingtonblade.com/2009/4-3/news/localnews/14307.cfm. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  22. ^ "Attorney General Opinion - Whether Out-of-State Same-Sex Marriage That is Valid in the State of Celebration May Be Recognized In Maryland". February 24, 2010. http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opinions/2010/95oag3.pdf. 
  23. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/24/AR2010022403630.html?hpid=topnews
  24. ^ http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=uclalaw/williams

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