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Maryland Senate committee to take up marriage equality bill today

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Today, Maryland’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will take up a marriage equality bill a 1 p.m., with LGBT advocates and religious leaders holding a rally in support of the legislation at 9:30 a.m.

Yesterday, the Washington Post released a poll showing that Marylanders support the legislation 50-44 percent, but many polls in the last few months have shown the margin between the two sides to be very close.  The Post poll showed deep racial divides in the opinion of Maryland Democrats, with support standing at 71-24 percent for whites and 41-53 percent for blacks.  Gov. Martin O’Malley’s religious protections, which go further than those in last year’s failed bill, are in many ways aimed at garnering the support of Democrats in the House who withheld their votes last year based on input from religious members of their constituencies.

In an excellent editorial yesterday, the Baltimore Sun made the case for the bill’s adequate protections of religious liberty:

There may never be a consensus among the state’s religious organizations over whether God intended people of the same sex to love each other and to marry. Those are theological questions best left up to the members of each faith to decide, and this legislation includes clear, explicit protections of their right to do so. But just as the government may not impede the right to the free exercise of religion, no particular religion’s values may be the basis of the law of the land. A democracy requires that all citizens be treated equally and in accordance with the same basic rules of fairness.

I wrote last week about religious leaders in Maryland who are personally opposed to marriage same-sex couples being granted marriage rights, but are supporting O’Malley’s bill and the freedom of gay couples to have the same choice to marry as their straight counterparts.  Maryland’s marriage equality bill passed the Senate last year, so passage looks likely in that chamber this year as well.

UPDATED: If you want to listen in live to the committee hearing today, you can do so here.


  • 1. jpmassar  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Yesterday's Washington Post poll was a poll of all adults. The polls that show a closer result are polls of registered voters. There's a difference. Polls of all adults consistently show more support for marriage equality than polls of registered voters.

    Unfortunately, it's registered voters who vote in referenda.

  • 2. Bryce  |  January 31, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Actually, 'likely voters' is preferable even to 'registered voters'. Many people identify as 'registered voters' with no intention to vote.

  • 3. Sagesse  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:08 am


  • 4. Ann S.  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:11 am


  • 5. Sagesse  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

    And hence the need always to include a 'get out the vote' component in all marriage equality campaigns.

  • 6. Straight Dave  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:40 am

    And hence the need to not have this stuff voted on in the first place. It's bad enough to have public votes on rights, but it's even worse when those votes don't even reflect the majority opinon…especially galling!
    But I recognize that in MD, WA, ME, etc we don't really have a choice but to play the game by the rules that exist. I now fully appreciate the value of the DC law that takes the chance of voting on such rights off the table entirely.

    A very exciting week going on in WA, MD, NH.

  • 7. Lesbians Love Boies  |  January 31, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Does anyone know if there is a site to watch/listen to a live stream?

  • 8. Jacob Combs  |  January 31, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Yes! Just added the link to the end of the post.

  • 9. Seth from Maryland  |  January 31, 2012 at 10:18 am

    The Advocate has a link

  • 10. Dan Hess  |  January 31, 2012 at 11:07 am

    We’re definitely winning in my home state this year. I can feel it.

  • 11. Dana Jeanne  |  January 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

    ****The Post poll showed deep racial divides in the opinion of Maryland Democrats, with support standing at 71-24 percent for whites and 41-53 percent for blacks.****

    I have a very hard time understanding how a group of people who suffered horribly to finally get thier civil rights can be so unsupportive of another group fighting for rights of thier own. One would think other minority groups would be standing shoulder to shoulder with us. It's just… I don't… GAH!

  • 12. Steve  |  January 31, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    It's actually pretty common for the oppressed to turn into oppressors once they get into power themselves. You can see that repeated countless times throughout history. And of course the poisonous influence of religion does its usual to distort people's sense of morality

  • 13. Dana Jeanne  |  January 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Too bad they can't leave 'what God wants' to God and each individual person. I think the 'oppressors' are going to be rather surprised when they get to the pearly gates and St Peter says, "oops, you judged your fellow man after God told you not to. Get your sunscreen and a bottle of water and head downstairs. Judge not, lest ye be judged means just that!"

  • 14. grod  |  February 1, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Dana Jeanne – In reflecting on your observation I was reminded of Mark 12 -17. "Then Jesus said to them, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.' And they were amazed at him." Perhaps elsewhere it addresses circumstances when each claims to occupy what the other perceives to be the same turf. The "amazing" sentence that follows gets much less attention but does it not tell us that the “Give” statement was a departure from what was commonly understood? Civil and church leaders need to remind themselves of the distinction Christ made, when expressing views about civil marriage and holy matrimony. Perhaps listeners would also be amazed in their wisdom in doing so!

  • 15. Another day. « wild&hellip  |  February 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    […] still voting on my right to marry – a state here, a state there. New Hampshire. Yesterday, Maryland. Today, Washington. It feels like they do this every day. Imagine what it feels like – to read […]

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