Marriage equality bill. Recognition
of out-of-state SSMs. Poll results
2009-JAN: Marriage Equality bill re-introduced:
Senator Rich Madaleno reintroduced the bill on 2008-JAN. 1
It was Senate bill SB 565 and House Bill 1055.
According to gay commentator Steve Charing on
"Equality Maryland is scaling back expectations regarding passage of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act
during the upcoming session. According to [Kate] Runyon, their new Executive Director, the goal is to work with people to increase sponsorship this year."
"When asked if Equality Maryland may try to secure civil unions in the
short-term given that there is broader consensus among the legislators for
that and Governor O'Malley has signaled that he would sign the measure into
law, Runyon said the organization would rather wait for a marriage bill to
The bill was given
first reading in the Senate on 2009-FEB-06.
2009-MAR: Hearing by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee:
The League of Women Voters of Maryland supported the
proposed act, testifying on the basis of the League's earlier "equality opportunity" study:
"Under Maryland law, marriage is a bundle tying together
rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities govern not just
the relationship of the partners but also affect dependent children, medical
care providers, employers and the community at large. The law of marriage
ensures that a person claiming the rights of marriage also is bound by its
responsibilities. The League feels that the people of Maryland would be
better served by authorizing an expansion of marriage eligibility."
"In keeping with the principle of separation of church
and state, the League prefers making the basis of state recognition of all
marriages/civil unions a civil proceeding, with an additional step of marriage
in accordance with religious traditions a voluntary option." 3
2009-JUL-06: Discussion of Maryland recognizing out-of-state SSMs:
During June, State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) who is the
lead sponsor of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act
in the Maryland Senate, asked Douglas Gansler, the Attorney General, whether
Maryland will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Maryland is a reasonably short car ride from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Vermont and Washington DC where SSM is available. If Maryland recognized out-of-state same-sex marriage as
New Yor does, then living, committed same-sex
couples would only need to drive a short distance, get married in a nearby
state, return to Maryland and enjoy at least the few hundred state marital
benefits and protections for themselves and their children.
On 2009-JUL-06, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) was asked during an interview on a radio
station whether he favored Maryland recognizing same-sex marriages that had been
solemnized in other political jurisdictions. He replied:
"I think that it's very difficult to deny equal rights to people when it
comes to rights that are dispersed by government rather than a faith or a church
and so I think if a person has these rights under another state than I think
we're sore pressed to deny those rights, so yes, I think we probably should
respect those rights." 4
2009-JAN-05: Momentum building for SSM:
Equality Maryland (EQMD) issued a news release predicting that the
recent SSM legalization in neighboring Washington DC, and a decision by the
state MVA that favors transgender persons and transsexuals may indicate an
increase in approval for the legalization of SSM.
A recent state-wide poll of registered voters indicates that:
"By three percentage points, registered Maryland voters support the General
Assembly passing the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.
... Marylanders resoundingly reject the idea of a California Proposition 8-type
campaign or Maine Question 1 battle and would vote against repealing a
marriage equality law - 51 percent to 39 percent." 5
Whether a three point margin would be sufficient to
overcome an expected massive anti-SSM fear campaign is difficult to predict. The
vote would probably be close as it was in Maine (2%) and California (3%), but could go
either in a pro-equality or anti-equality direction.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.