|There's no questioning Charles Blackburn's love for partner Glen Dehn: He met the now-retired government worker at a party, moved in immediately and is still with him 33 years later. Yet the pair has never walked down the aisle -- not because the men didn't want to, but because the state of Maryland said they couldn't.
"We could never understand how a committed relationship of two gays or two lesbians could possibly hurt a heterosexual marriage and we haven't been told yet," says Blackburn, who, urged by a friend, signed the couple up to join a 2004 lawsuit for same-sex marriage in Maryland.
Years later, the Blackburn-Dehn couple is among 19 original plaintiffs rejoicing in the wake of a newly signed measure legalizing gay marriages in Maryland. Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the bill into law on March 1; Maryland joins D.C. and six states in legalizing gay marriages. The Civil Marriage Protection Act is scheduled to take effect in January, though a voter referendum in November could kill the measure before then.
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Photo of Kolasar/Wojahan by Michael Key, Washington Blade