Conaway v. Deane & Polyak

Summary

In July 2004, a group of lesbian and gay couples and a gay widower filed this case in Maryland state court seeking the right to marry under the state constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. The trial court ruled in the plaintiffs' favor in January 2006, holding that excluding same-sex couples from marriage discriminates on the basis of sex without a constitutionally sufficient government justification. The government appealed to Maryland’s highest court. Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in the high court on behalf a diverse coalition of organizations representing those with disabilities, the elderly and the impoverished.

Context

Our brief focuses on the proper application of the “rational review test” — which examines whether a legislature had a reasonable and not an arbitrary basis for enacting a particular law. This standard of review is the most deferential to the legislature. But it serves as an important bulwark against discrimination by requiring that laws are not passed based on irrational stereotypes or prejudices against a group of people.

Lambda Legal's Impact

This historic case will decide whether Maryland’s constitution requires granting committed same-sex couples the right to marry. If successful, the case will affect the numerous gay and lesbian couples living in Maryland.

History

  • October 2006 Lambda Legal files amicus brief in Maryland Court of Appeals in support of plaintiffs, lesbian and gay individuals seeking the right to marry in Maryland.
  • December 2006 Maryland high court hears oral argument in case.

Case Information

Status: Closed

Attorneys

Lambda Legal
Susan Sommer

Co-counsel/Cooperating Attorneys
Arnold & Porter LLP; Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP