Marriage Equality

Deane and Polyak v. Conaway

On July 7, 2004, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), working closely with Equality Maryland, filed a lawsuit on behalf of nine loving, same-sex couples and a recently widowed man seeking the right to marry in Maryland. The lawsuit charges that excluding same-sex couples from marriage violates the state constitution’s guarantees of equality.

We’ve assembled some resources to help you understand the lawsuit, keep track of developments, and advocate for marriage equality.


August 30, 2005: Oral arguments take place before Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Brooke Murdock. Plaintiffs await a written decision by the Court, which could arrive at any time.

March 11, 2005 – Less than 24 hours after hearing arguments on the issue of whether politicians and the Anne Arundel County Clerk would be allowed to intervene in the marriage fairness lawsuit, the Maryland Court of Appeals summarily dismissed their claims.

January 11, 2005 – As previously reported, the Anne Arundel County Clerk (through his counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, a national right-wing organization opposed to equality for LGBT people), as well as a handful of conservative state legislators, moved to intervene in Deane and Polyak v. Conaway; their motions were denied by the trial court. The would-be intervenors subsequently appealed to the state intermediate appellate court, which halted the proceedings in the trial court pending resolution of the appeal. Most recently, the state high court asserted jurisdiction over the appeal. In other words, the state high court (the Maryland Court of Appeals) decided that, instead of the state intermediate appellate court, it will be the court to rule on the intervention issue. The oral argument on the intervention issue will take place in Annapolis sometime the week of March 7. This will likely delay the initial hearings in Deane and Polyak v. Conaway.

Judge Brooke Murdock has set a schedule for the Maryland marriage equality litigation. The period of time in which the parties may seek discovery (i.e. information from each other) will close on November 30. The parties will simultaneously file their motions for summary judgment (motions arguing that they win as a matter of law) on January 10. The parties will then simultaneously file responses to those motions on February 11. The parties will then present oral argument at a public hearing on March 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the courthouse in Baltimore. While the hearing is open to the public, space is extremely limited in the small courtroom.

In a one-sentence order on Sept. 17, Baltimore City Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock rejected three motions to intervene in the marriage equality litigation filed by the ACLU of Maryland, in partnership with Equality Maryland, on behalf of nine same-sex couples and one widowed man. “[T]he intervention would unduly delay and prejudice the adjudication of the rights of the original parties,” Murdock wrote. Eight state legislators sought to become defendants in the lawsuit.