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Gay attorney named to Maryland bench

Mark Scurti, District Court, Baltimore City, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay attorney, Mark Scurti will serve as an associate judge on the District Court for Baltimore City. (Photo courtesy of Mark Scurti)

Mark Scurti, a well-known gay attorney in Baltimore’s LGBT community, was appointed by Gov. Martin O’Malley on Aug. 13 to serve as an associate judge on the District Court for Baltimore City. Three other judges were named by the governor: Kevin M. Wilson, Martin D. Dorsey and Nicole P. Klein.

“I am pleased to appoint such an accomplished and diverse group of candidates to serve on the Baltimore City District Court,” O’Malley said in a statement. “These appointees will bring to the bench a broad range of legal expertise and a true commitment to public service.”

Scurti, a partner at Towson law firm Pessin Katz Law P.A. (PK Law), has been appointed to a 10-year term and is expected to begin his new duties in early September.

“Becoming a judge has been a lifelong dream of mine to serve the citizens of Maryland,” Scurti told the Blade.  “I see a judge as an instrument of justice, someone who is able to hear both sides of a dispute, weigh the facts and law and render an appropriate decision.”

Scurti has worked at PK Law since 2007, focusing his practice in all aspects of bankruptcy proceedings, debt restructuring and same-sex relationship law. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

In 2007, Scurti received a Distinguished Alumni Award for his work for OUTLaw, an LGBT advocacy organization at the University of Baltimore School of Law. The award has been renamed the “Mark F. Scurti Award for Outstanding Contributions to the LGBT Community.”

Scurti was also instrumental in arranging the first same-sex marriage ceremonies at Baltimore City Hall that took place right after midnight on Jan. 1.  He stood alongside Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as she proclaimed Jan. 1 to be “Marriage Equality Day.”

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2013

Baltimore City Hall among first to host same-sex weddings

Maryland, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington BladeBaltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was a high-profile advocate for same-sex marriage in Maryland especially during the referendum battle, decided to open the doors of City Hall to allow same-sex couples to marry as soon as it was legal.

Beginning at 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day, seven couples participated in ceremonies with the first officiated by the mayor herself.

“New Years Day will have a new meaning for the hundreds — if not thousands — of couples who will finally have the right to marry the person they love,” said Rawlings-Blake in a statement prior to the event. “It is a remarkable achievement for Maryland and we are excited to open City Hall to host some of the first wedding ceremonies in our great state. Newly married couples will stand before their friends and family to profess their love and commitment to each other. This is what we worked for and I am looking forward to take part in this historic and jubilant day.”

Jim Scales, a 40-year employee of Baltimore City who has been an office manager serving all mayors since William Donald Schaefer, and his partner Bill Tasker were the first to get married in City Hall at 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1. The couple, who reside in Essex, have been together 35 years.

“We didn’t want to rush into this,” Scales said.

The idea of opening City Hall originated with attorney Mark Scurti of PK Law. It took several phone calls and networking, but he was ultimately able to pull it off with help from the mayor’s office.

The other six couples who tied the knot at City Hall were Brigitte Ronnett and Lisa Walther, Danielle Williams and Darcea Anthony, Jamie Kraft and Sarah Vickery, Tom Rabe and Robert Coffman, Ryan Wilson and Shehan Welihindha, and William L. Countryman, Jr. and Roy Allen Neal.

Similar ceremonies took place around the state with some occurring one minute after midnight. Unions occurred in Annapolis, Tighlman Island, Howard County, Cumberland and more. Havre de Grace City Councilman Joseph C. Smith married his partner Don Starr at the city’s Concord Point Lighthouse, complete with fireworks.

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2013