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Brian Frosh
(The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Frosh joins Supreme Court brief for same-sex marriage

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh has joined 15 other states and Washington, D.C., in urging the Supreme Court to rule that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

Frosh signed on to a brief Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey submitted to the high court last week in support of same-sex couples challenging laws banning their ability to marry in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. Same-sex couples have had a statutory right to marry in Maryland since Jan. 1, 2013.

“Given states’ near universal acceptance of all other marriages that are valid where celebrated, the categorical non-recognition of same-sex marriages has the purpose and effect of codifying — for its own sake — a second-tier status that our Constitution does not permit,” Healey wrote in an amici curiae, friends of the court, brief to the justices.

“Given the legal and personal significance of the relationship, this court has repeatedly affirmed the fundamental nature of the right to marry,” Healey added. “Likewise, the court has protected the freedom to marry the partner of one’s choice and the equal dignity of all married couples. Thus, the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process require equal marriage rights for same-sex couples nationwide.”

Joining Massachusetts, Maryland and the District of Columbia on the brief were California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

“Maryland has been a leader in advancing marriage equality,” Frosh said in a statement Monday. “We must continue to play a role in making sure that everyone in the nation can enjoy the benefits of marriage regardless of sexual orientation. It is a matter of fundamental fairness.”

But the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November found no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, saying its permissibility is for states to decide through the legislative process.

“When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers,” the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit held. “Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

Same-sex couples can lawfully wed in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments April 28 in the four consolidated cases, Obergefell et al. v. Hodges et al., Nos. 14-556, 14-562, 14-571 and 14-574.

A decision is expected by the end of June.