- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s highest court ruled yesterday that marriage can be only between one man and one woman.

The Maryland Court of Appeals decision overturns a lower-court ruling that would have allowed homosexuals to “marry” and upholds a 1973 state law limiting marriage to between one man and one woman.

“It is a wonderful day. This is great news,” said Delegate Don Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel Republican, who has introduced a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual “marriage” for three consecutive years in the Assembly.

Four judges on the seven-member panel ruled the state’s 1972 Equal Rights Amendment did not apply to sexual orientation. Three judges, including Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, dissented.

Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote the 109-page majority opinion, with Judges Alan M. Wilner, Dale R. Cathell and Clayton Greene Jr. — considered to be the swing vote on the court — concurring.

Judge Harrell called the argument that denying a marriage license is a civil-rights violation “beguiling.”

He wrote that sexual orientation does not qualify as an “immutable characteristic” the same way that race or ethnicity does in determining equal rights under the law.

The ruling marks the end of years of legal battling over the issue, though both sides say they will continue the fight in Maryland’s General Assembly.

Nine homosexual couples sued Baltimore City in 2005 for denying them marriage licenses.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock ruled the city denied the plaintiffs their constitutional rights based on gender discrimination, but the state appealed the ruling last year and won the case yesterday.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Mikkole Mozelle, 31, of Prince George’s County, a plaintiff in the suit with her partner, Phelicia Kebreau, 39, of Prince George’s County.

“We’re just trying to protect our family,” said Miss Mozelle, who is raising three children with Miss Kebreau. “I don’t want everyone to accept me. I’m not asking people to change their lives. I just want to protect my family.”

Iowa’s highest court is still weighing a ban on homosexual “marriage.” A lower court judge recently struck down a ban on such “marriages.”

Massachusetts is the only state that has granted homosexual “marriages,” though Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont grant civil unions.

California, Florida, Maine and Oregon grant domestic-partner registry benefits, which allow homosexuals to file for “marriage” licenses separate from those of heterosexual couples.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, who has said he supports civil unions but opposes homosexual “marriage,” said he supports the ruling.

“I look forward to reading the court’s full opinion,” said Mr. O’Malley, a lawyer. “But as we move forward, those of us with the responsibility of passing and enforcing laws have an obligation to protect the rights of all individuals equally, without telling any faith how to define its sacraments. I respect the court’s decision.”

Supporters of homosexual “marriage” said they were “bitterly disappointed” by yesterday’s court ruling.

“This was the marriage lawsuit,” said Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland. “It ended at the high court; we’re taking our case to the legislature.”

Mr. Furmansky said two Prince George’s lawmakers are filing legislation that will allow homosexuals to “marry” in Maryland.

Opponents of the “marriages,” including Mr. Dwyer, said they would introduce legislation to amend the state constitution to preserve the court’s ruling.

“Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose,” said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage, a District-based advocacy group, “but they don’t believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society.”

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