2012-FEB-01 (approximately): Maryland Marriage Equality clergy press conference (Cont'd)
Dr Jeffrey McCune at the same conference noted that he has a biological father, a step father, and a mother, all of whom were active in his life. He joked about having two fathers and one mother.
He noted that
70% of the loving, committed same-sex couples in the state of Washington have children in the home, all of whom need the protections and rights given only by marriage. He said: "No minority should have their civil rights subject to the passions and sentiment of the majority."
He mentioned that the proposed law preserves the religious freedom of denominations to decide whom they are willing to marry.
2011-FEB-07: Rev. Al Sharpton supports marriage equality:
The group Marylanders for Marriage Equality is producing a series of TV ads promoting the right of loving, committed same-sex couples to marry in Maryland. Rev. Sharpton appears in the 11th of the series. He said: "... if committed gay and lesbian couples want to marry, that’s their business. None of us should stand in their way."
Sultan Shakir, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said Sharpton is "... one of the most recognized voices in the country when it comes to pursuing basic fairness. We are grateful that such a tireless advocate has lent his voice to help make all Maryland families stronger."
2012-FEB-14: Joint House panel approved SSM bill on Valentine's Day:
The House of Delegates' Judiciary Committee and the Health and Government Operations Committee debated and approved the SSM bill on FEB-14 by 25 to 18 in a joint vote. Votes by the full House and Senate are expected shortly. 3
2012-FEB-17: House of Delegates approved SSM bill:
Delegates voted 72 to 67 in favor of the "Civil Marriage Protection Act" after two hours of often emotional debate. A majority of 71 votes was needed to pass! Seventy Democrats and 2 Republicans voted for the bill. Twenty-six Democrats and 41 Republicans voted against the bill. The vote probably would have been 73 in favor except that Del. Veronica L. Turner(D) was hospitalized on the day before the vote. The bill would not have passed except for the support of the two Republicans, three Blue Dogs (conservative Democrats), and two African-American delegates, none of whom were originally supportive of the bill. A major influence in their decision to vote in favor of the bill was a clause allowing religious institutions to continue discriminating against loving, committed same-sex couples by refusing to marry them. 7
As expected, delegates who supported the bill discussed it in terms of fundamental human rights; those opposed said that SSM is an affront to long-established religious beliefs:
Del. Maggie L. McIntosh(D) is one of seven gay House members. During the debate, she described her experiences when coming out as a lesbian. She said: "We should extend to families, same-sex loving couples, the right to marry in a civil ceremony. I’m going to ask you today, my colleagues, to make history." 5 They did.
Del. A. Wade Kach(R) changed his mind after the hearing and voted in favor of the bill. He was moved by the testimony from loving, committed same-sex couples and some of their children. He said that: "My constituents did not send me here to judge people." More details.
Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr.(D) voted against the bill. He said: "Same-sex marriage is wrong. I believe that people who are gay have a right to be that, but the word ‘marriage’ should not be attached." 4
Del. Ron George (R) voted against the bill. He noted that the bill had clauses protecting the right of religious organizations to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples with impunity. But he was saddened that it did not protect individuals and companies working in the marriage field, like bakers, florists, jewelers, etc. If they refused to serve same-sex couples then they would expose themselves to the possibility of prosecution under human rights laws. George is the owner of Ron George Jewelers and was saddened that he would be forced to sell to members of the GLBT community.
Del, Jay Walker (D) was concerned that legalizing same-sex marriage would lead to the marriage of three women or a man marrying two wives, etc.
Justin Ready (R) voted against the bill, saying:
"My vote will be to maintain the current definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. This vote is not an attack on other relationships, it's a vote promoting the unique and special nature of the institution of marriage." 8
Responding to strong opposition among her constituents, Del. Tiffany T. Alston (D) also voted against the bill.
A few amendments were created to delay or derail the vote. All were defeated. One amendment would have legalized civil unions rather than same-sex marriage. It was defeated 78 to 45. The delegates also voted to temporarily suspend a rule that usually requires final votes to be taken at least one day after amendments were voted upon. The state Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill during the week of FEB-19. The Senate approved a similar measure during 2011 and is expected to repeat the approval this year.
The bishops of the Maryland [Roman] Catholic Conference issued a statement saying that it opposes the bill and that it would now concentrate on defeating the bill in the Senate.
Governor Martin O'Malley (D) has strongly lobbied for this bill, and is expected to sign it if it is approved by the Legislature.
Alli Harper, 33, and her partner Jenn Monti, 31, witnessed the vote and welcomed the results. They have been a couple since the year 2000 and had a religious union ceremony in 2010. They were present in the chambers when the final vote was announced. Alli Harper said:
"We knew the vote was close and we were nervous but hopeful. We wanted to be here when this historic vote took place.
Jenn Monti said they are going to get a license "as soon as we can." 6