Breaking News! Same-sex couples from Baltimore can get married at City Hall starting at 12:30 AM on New Year's Day - right after Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gets back from the city's fireworks display!

The ACLU of Maryland thanks the Mayor for creating this special opportunity for couples - gay and straight - to take immediate advantage of the Civil Marriage Protection Act finally going into effect. We know that many people have been waiting a lifetime to get married here in Maryland, and we joined with other groups in asking the Mayor to make it possible for it to happen as early as possible.  The City needs to have an estimate of how many people to expect, so if you're planning on getting married then, let us know and make sure to get your marriage license from the Baltimore City Clerk's Office by December 28th!

2013 is shaping up to be a momentous year. Thanks to your support in partnership with the ACLU and Marylanders for Marriage Equality, same-sex marriage is now possible. And in the near future the Supreme Court will consider two marriage cases, one initiated by the ACLU and one that the ACLU has actively supported with friend-of-the-court briefs. You can rest assured the ACLU will be there every step of the way for same-sex couples and all Marylanders.

Here's the latest:

The Supreme Court announced just two weeks ago that it will decide the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the case of ACLU client, Edie Windsor.  Edie, who was engaged to Thea Spyer in 1967, finally married Thea in Canada in 2007. Unfortunately, she tragically lost her beloved wife to complications of multiple sclerosis in 2009 after caring for her until the end.

If you haven't yet, check out this moving video that tells Thea and Edie's story.

Of course, Thea left all her possessions, including the apartment that they had shared for decades, to Edie. But while New York considered Edie and Thea a married couple, DOMA required the federal government to treat them as legal strangers. So Edie was socked with a $363,000 federal estate tax bill that would have been $0 if she had been a straight widow.

The second Supreme Court case is Perry v. Brown, which will determine what happens to  California's Prop 8, which took away same-sex marriage in that state.  A full range of marriage issues will now be before the high court and these cases are poised not just to take down DOMA and Prop 8, but to be the next building blocks for LGBT equality more broadly.

Here's why these cases are so important:

  • Ending explicit federal discrimination. DOMA requires the federal government to discriminate against married same-sex couples by treating them as legal strangers for purposes of all federal statutes and programs. It's the last explicit federal declaration that gay people are inferior, which is reason enough to get rid of it.
  • Heightened scrutiny in the balance. The Windsor ruling that the Supreme Court will review sets out an important new protection for same sex couples generally. Under this "heightened scrutiny" standard, courts will presume that anti-gay discrimination by the government is unconstitutional and will require the government to have a good explanation for why it needs to discriminate against the LGBT community. If the Supreme Court adopts the heightened scrutiny standard, it would help eliminate anti-gay discrimination in many different contexts beyond marriage.
  • Showing the country that discrimination in marriage is wrong. Both Windsor and Perry make profound contributions to the public's understanding of the freedom to marry. When two people make the commitment that's at the heart of marriage, it's profoundly unfair for the government to treat them as though they're not a family.
There's so much at stake and so much promise for equality. 

Stay informed about the ACLU's work in 2013 and beyond!

For more information on the ACLU's work, check out these resources below: 

Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

ACLU History: Forging the Path to Equality for LGBT People

LGBT & AIDS Project Case Profiles

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