Press

Task Force, Inc., denounces Maryland high court ruling denying same-sex couples marriage equality

Date: 
September 18, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358
rsklar@theTaskForce.org

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., denounces today’s ruling by Maryland’s highest state court upholding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. By a 4–3 vote, the Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and ruled the ban does not violate the state constitution. “In declaring that the State’s legitimate interests in fostering procreation and encouraging the traditional family structure ... our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the right to marry a person of the same sex,” Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote for the majority.

Today’s decision in Conaway v. Deane and Polyak is the final disposition of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and cooperating attorneys on behalf of nine same-sex couples and a recently widowed man who had sought and been denied marriage licenses in Maryland. Last year, the trial court had ruled that denying same-sex couples marriage licenses violated their equal protection and due process rights under the Maryland Constitution. Today’s decision reverses that ruling.

The Task Force was one of many national civil rights organizations to support the plaintiffs’ claims by joining an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to Maryland’s highest court. The Task Force has also directly supported Equality Maryland, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights group, to advance equality for LGBT people.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc.

“Maryland, the so-called ‘Free State,’ became decidedly less free today with the disappointing and demeaning decision handed down by the Maryland Court of Appeals denying to same-sex couples the right to marry. By overturning a lower court ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry under the state’s own Equal Rights Amendment, the justices have turned their hearts and minds away from a simple reality: All of Maryland’s families want, need and deserve the protections, rights and responsibilities that support and sustain them in good and bad times. We applaud the tremendous courage of the plaintiffs and the hard work of the ACLU attorneys.

“The Task Force stands with state partner Equality Maryland and all our Maryland members, supporters and allies as the best next steps are planned and navigated. Today is not the end of the fight for marriage equality in Maryland; instead, it sparks a persevering and determined movement to push onward.”

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The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. (“NGLTF, Inc.”), founded in 1974, works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. NGLTF, Inc., is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc., are not tax-deductible.