- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

BALTIMORE — The battle over homosexual “marriage” was waged in a Maryland courtroom yesterday when oral arguments were presented in a lawsuit seeking to nullify century-old marriage statutes and force the state to recognize same-sex unions.

Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch said state law defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman codifies the “essence of marriage” and does not deprive any resident of basic rights afforded by the Maryland Constitution.

He also urged Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock not be an activist judge in the mold of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, which legalized same-sex “marriage” in that state in 2003 and spurred the ongoing national debate.

“At issue here is the authority of the legislature to address issues of same-sex partners,” Mr. Zarnoch said. “This is not something the court can do by itself. The legislature must be involved in this process.”

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of nine homosexual couples denied licenses in Maryland, said overturning discriminatory laws was not activism.

“We are not asking the bench to be activist, but to do its duty to uphold the state constitution,” said ACLU attorney Kenneth Y. Choe.

Judge Murdock has indicated that her ruling could come within a month.

However, the case likely is destined for a higher court regardless of Judge Murdock’s ruling.

Mr. Choe said denying homosexuals the right to marry violates the state constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

He said that unlike married heterosexual couples, homosexual couples are unable to visit each other in the hospital, share health insurance or inherit property as a matter of right.

Mr. Zarnoch and Assistant Attorney General Steven M. Sullivan argued that marriage is not a fundamental right but a privilege. They said current law does not discriminate based on sex because both men and women are unable to enter same-sex “marriages.”

After the hearing, the debate spilled onto the streets outside the courthouse, where homosexual activists staged a rally. Some hoisted placards with slogans such as: “Civil marriage is a civil right” and “My gay son deserves the right to marry.”

“I want my kids to have a family setting the way it should be,” said Takia Foskey, 31, who is raising her 7-year-old son with partner Jo Rabb, 39. They were denied a marriage license in Baltimore.

Prince George’s County resident Nigel Simon, 36, said he wanted to get married to protect the three foster children he adopted with partner Alvin Williams, 50.

“The law doesn’t recognize us as a couple or a family,” Mr. Simon said.

Across the street, a half-dozen people opposed to same-sex “marriage” steered clear of the rally.

Rick Bowers, chairman of the group Defend Maryland Marriage, said he hoped the judge would resist the temptation to rewrite state law.

“To handle it in the courtroom is to shut out the public and short-circuit the legislative process,” he said.

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