Conaway v. Deane

401 Md. 219
Brief Filed: 10/06
Court: Maryland Court of Appeals
Year of Decision: 2007

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 3.1MB)

Issue

Addresses a constitutional challenge to Maryland’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Index Topic

Sexual Orientation (discrimination; marriage)

Facts

Plaintiffs are same-sex couples in Maryland wishing to marry. They challenge a 1973 Maryland statute, now codified at § 2-201 of the Family Law Article, which provides “only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this State.” Plaintiffs contended at the lower court level that § 2-201 is unconstitutional because it: (1) discriminates on the basis of gender; (2) discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation; (3) deprives plaintiffs the fundamental right to marry in violation of the equal protection component of Maryland’s Declaration of Rights; and (4) deprives plaintiffs the fundamental right to marry in violation of the due process component of Maryland’s Declaration of Rights.  The Circuit Court held § 2-201 unconstitutional on the first of these grounds — “because it discriminates on gender against a suspect class; and is not narrowly tailored to serve any compelling governmental interests.” The court did not reach the three other constitutional claims.

APA's Position

APA’s amicus brief provided extensive psychological research on key points, including how sexual orientation is related to the gender of partners to whom one is attracted — meaning that prohibiting same-sex marriage discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, rather than just imposing disparate burdens on gay people. Included is current scientific research on the nature of same-sex relationship, the role of child-rearing, and the stigma resulting from denying the label “marriage” to same sex unions. The brief cited psychological research showing that gay and lesbian parents are not any less fit or capable than heterosexual parents, and that their children are not less adjusted.

Result

The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled against the plaintiffs leaving the legal ban on same-sex marriage in place.