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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage in Maryland

Pro and con SSM bills introduced

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2008-JAN: Marriage Equality bill introduced:

A Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act was introduced on 2008-JAN-25. It had 49 cosponsors: 9 in the Senate and 40 in the House. It would preserve the right of faith groups to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples by refusing to marry them.

The Act would change the Maryland family law (2-102):

bulletTo define marriage as "between two people, not otherwise prohibited from marrying..."
bulletTo protect any "official of a religious institution or body authorized to solemnize marriages" from "being required to solemnizing any marriage in violation of the right to free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by the Maryland Constitution and Maryland Declaration of Rights." 1

Three of the primary sponsors stated:

Delegate Ben Barnes: "When we deny civil rights to one group of citizens we demean and debase our entire society. Just as the Jim Crow South is a scar on a great nation, so too is denying the protections of marriage to gay and lesbian families. This Bill will give us in the Maryland Legislature an opportunity to choose; we can choose to stand for equality with great civil rights leaders like, Gwen Britt, John Lewis and Julian Bond or we can choose the path of intolerance. Today I choose the path that these leaders have set forth."

Delegate Anne Kaiser: "On this momentous occasion we take another step forward on our nation's long march for equality. Today, by introducing this bill, we are placing our faith in the legislators of the great state of Maryland; that they will put equality for all of their constituents at the forefront of their minds that they will move past divisiveness and come together and support equality and unity, for all citizens in our one Maryland."

Delegate Todd Schuler: "That my wife would be allowed at my death bed in the hospital is one of the over 400 state and 1,100 federal rights that she and I are able to take for granted. Gay families have to fight at every turn for these rights and I am proud to join them in that fight." 2

Four other cosponsors stated:

Delegate Roger Manno: "Marriage equality is an issue of fundamental fairness and equal protection under the law. The time has come."

Delegate Karen Montgomery: "As a person who has been married for over fifty years, my husband and I have no problems with The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act."
Delegate Karen Montgomery, Cosponsor

Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher: "This is the civil rights issue of our time. I don't want to look back 20 years from now and regret being on the wrong side of history. Marriage equality is the right thing to do, and now is the right time to do it." 3

The Maryland Catholic Conference stated that they oppose this bill. They complained that: "The title of the bill is misleading; it would not protect civil marriage, but attempts to redefine it." 4 They commented:

"... neither our courts nor our State legislature should impose a different definition of marriage on our social order by assigning the legal status of marriage to any relationship other than the union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. They should not provide the same legal recognition to same-sex or other alternative relationships -- whether they are called marriages, or civil unions, or given some other designation -- as that which the law properly provides to the marriage of one man and one woman. To do so would undermine the institution of marriage, which has historically been the privileged setting for raising a child, whose optimum flourishing requires a stable relationship between father and mother. Even in marriages that do not yield children, the marital union provides powerful witness to the interdependence and complementarity of the sexes, a witness not duplicated by any other relationship." 5

As of JAN-25, the bill had nearly 50 cosponsors. As in previous versions of the bill, it would allow same-sex couples to marry and obtain all of the state benefits and obligations of marriage, without any of the 1,100 or so federal benefits. Religious institutions would be kept immune from any prosecution if they wish to refuse to marry such couples.

Executive Director of Equality Maryland, Dan Furmansky, said:

"For those naysayers who say that Maryland isn't ready to end marriage discrimination, I ask you, if not now, when? Thousands of same-sex couples are denied the more than 1,000 basic legal protections of a marriage license. Granting these families the stability that marriage provides is good for their health, good for their children, and good for society." 3

A hearing was held before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on 2008-FEB-14, and before the House Judiciary Committee on 2008-FEB-28. Testimony in support of the bill was given by representatives of the Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Jewish Community Relations Council, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry, and others. It did not proceeded. 7

2008-JAN: Marriage Protection Act introduced:

Eight state senators introduced an amendment to the Maryland Constitution that would state:

bullet Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state.
bullet A civil union or relationship between individuals of the same sex, by whatever name or title, that confers the benefit of marriage is not valid in this state.

It would require the approval of three-fifths of all the members to each of the two houses before being voted upon by the citizens of Maryland in 2008-NOV. 4

The main effect of this amendment would be to prevent constitutional challenges to the state's marriage law. The Maryland Catholic Conference stated that they support this amendment. 5

The bill did not leave the Judicial Proceedings Committee and is now dead. 8

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Text of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act," Equality Maryland, at: http://www.equalitymaryland.org/*
  2. "Equality Maryland Applauds Introduction Of The Religious Freedom And Civil Marriage Protection Act," 2008-JAN-25, at: http://www.equalitymaryland.org/
  3. "Equality Maryland Applauds Introduction Of The Religious Freedom And Civil Marriage Protection Act,"  Equality Maryland, 2008-JAN-25, at: http://www.equalitymaryland.org/
  4. "Marriage Legislation 2009," Maryland Catholic Conference, at: http://www.mdcathcon.org/
  5. "Marriage in Maryland: Securing the Foundation of Family and Society: A Statement from the Bishops of Maryland," Maryland Catholic Conference, 2008-JAN, at: http://www.mdcathcon.org/
  6. "Our 2009 Legislative Agenda," Equality Maryland, at: http://www.equalitymaryland.org/
  7. "Senate Bill 169: Marriage Protection Act," 2008, Home School Legal Defense Association, at: http://www.hslda.org/

* This is a PDF files. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > MD > here

Copyright © 2007 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2007-MAR-03
Latest update: 2010-JAN-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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