.- The state appeals court of Maryland ruled yesterday that marriage in the state can only be between a man and a woman.
Reuters reports that the court ruled in a 4-3 decision that âthe state has a legitimate interest in maintaining heterosexual marriage as the institution that allows procreation and the traditional family structure.â
"Our task ... is to determine whether the right to same-sex marriage is so deeply embedded in the history, tradition and culture of this state and nation that it should be deemed fundamental," the court wrote in a 244-page opinion. "We hold that it is not."
The court did recognize that homosexual relationships âextend to the core of the right to personal autonomy," but do not need the courts to formally declare them a marriage.
One U.S. state, Massachusetts, has legalized gay marriage, and four others, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and most recently New Jersey, have civil unions which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, David Rocah, which argued for the plaintiffs, called the decision "a bitter disappointment." But he said a bill to allow gay marriage will be introduced into the Maryland legislature early next year.
On the other side, the decision was welcomed by the Family Research Council, which filed a brief in favor of the state's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
"We commend the court for upholding the law rather than imposing the views of a persistent minority," the organization said in a statement. "This is an outright rejection of judicial activism and strengthens the legal battle against same-sex 'marriage.'"
The Alliance for Marriage also filed an amicus brief in the case stating:
"While we applaud todayâs court decision in Maryland, it is important to remember radical activists will continue their assaults on marriage in state legislatures and courts,â said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage. "AFM's Marriage Protection Amendment is clearly the only hope for the American people to determine the future of marriage under our laws."
"Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. But they don't believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society," said Daniels. "Americans want our laws to send a positive message to children about marriage, family and their future."