The debate over legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland is heating up once again with new legislation introduced by Gov. Martin O'Malley. The new bill adds religious protections to ensure that churches, synagogues and mosques are not penalized for opposing gay nuptials. Over the years, there have been a number of bills introduced to recognize same-sex marriages and partnerships as well as bills to ban such recognition.
Created by baltimoresun on Jan 30, 2012
Last updated: 07/11/12 at 10:03 AM
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Maryland's Board of Elections certified a petition July 10 to put the state's new same-sex marriage law on the November ballot, the final procedural step needed for voters to challenge the controversial law.
Activists working to repeal Maryland's same-sex marriage law have collectsmore than twice the signatures needed for a referendum — likely ensuring that the measure will be on the ballot for voters to decide in November.
The law's opponents submitted 122,481 signatures in favor of a referendum; 55,736 are required. If enough are verified as legitimate, as expected, Maryland will be in the center of a national debate on same-sex marriage, with groups on both sides preparing to spend millions.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one of the nation's oldest civil rights organizations, officially supports marriage for same-sex couples. The organization's stance could improve chances of overcoming the Md. ballot challenge.
Maryland's highest court hands a victory to same-sex couples in a ruling that the governor and other advocates hailed as an endorsement of administration policies recognizing gay marriages performed in other states.
Decision in divorce case comes as state's gay marriage law is in limbo.
The case arose after Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan, who were married in California, appealed the denial of their uncontested divorce in Prince George's County. Before this ruling, judges in Maryland have variously granted or denied divorces for same-sex couples.
Rep. Steny Hoyer's decision to support same-sex marriage could bring a powerful ally to efforts in Maryland to retain the gay marriage law in the state. A source close to Hoyer said Friday that the Democratic House leader will "oppose efforts to repeal the new Maryland law."
Hoyer said in a statement Thursday that "because I believe that equal treatment is a central tenet of our nation, I believe that extending the definition of marriage to committed relationships between two people, irrespective of their sex, is the right thing to do."
President Barack Obama tells Robin Roberts in an ABC News Exclusive Interview, "I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."
Advocates trying to uphold Maryland's same-sex marriage law hope President Obama's new stance will boost their efforts by firing up supporters and nudging black voters who traditionally have been resistant to the idea.
Amid cheers and camera flashes from a crush of on-lookers, Gov. Martin O'Malley on March 1 signed into law his bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland.
"The way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights of all," said O'Malley, giving brief remarks before inking the bill. "If there is a thread that unites all of our work here together it is the thread of human dignity. … Let's sign the bill."
The Maryland Marriage Alliance, made up of mostly African-American church leaders, said in a news release they will take the lead role in gathering signatures to put the law on the November 2012 ballot. They will be joined by the Maryland Catholic Conference, and, they said, the National Organization for Marriage, a national group that supports traditional unions.
On Feb. 23, the Maryland Senate voted 25-22 to give final approval to legislation legalizing same-sex marriages, sending the Civil Marriage Protection Act to Gov. Martin O'Malley to sign.
The governor, a Democrat, plans to sign the bill "within a week," a spokeswoman said.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved by the House of Delegates by a vote of 72-67 on Feb. 17, sending the measure to the Senate, which passed a similar bill last year and is expected do so again.
House committees --- Judiciary and Health & Government Operations --- voted to send to the floor Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said that his same-sex marriage bill could be voted out of a House committee as early as this week, but acknowledged that he's still a few votes short.
"People always make their decisions against deadlines," O'Malley said to reporters after giving an address at an Annapolis rally. "The bill has been heard in the House and is likely to move. Exactly when will be up to The Speaker of course."
Maryland's House of Delegates held a hearing on Gov. Martin O'Malley's bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The hearing was packed with deeply personal anecdotes and arguments, as advocates and opponents sought to make the best possible cases for their sides.
It was unclear whether the testimonials moved any of the 45 delegates during the joint hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee and House Health and Government Operations Committee.
By most counts, the House is evenly split on the Civil Marriage Protection Act, with about a dozen lawmakers who have not made up their minds. The measure is still a handful short of the 71 votes needed for passage.
About a dozen members of the House of Delegates are believed to be undecided on Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. They are the audience that activists on both sides most want to reach as they prepare to make their best case at an upcoming hearing.
The hearing is expected to be one of the largest — and longest — of the 2012 legislative session. With supporters about six votes shy of the 71 they need for passage in the chamber, the small collection of undecided members will determine the bill's fate.
Eight Maryland religious leaders made a pitch for same-sex marriage in a web video released by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the latest in a series put out by the advocacy group.
Leaders included Rev. Stephen Anderson of the Pilgrim United Methodist Church in Silver Spring who said he wanted his gay and lesbian neighbors to have "the same legal protections my wife and I have enjoyed for years." Also featured was Rev. David T. Gilmore, a Baptist minister, who said: “I have not always walked this walk or been a part of this struggle.”
Rev. Al Sharpton also made an ad for the organization's web campaign in support of same-sex marriage legislation in Maryland.
Gov. Martin O'Malley said a federal court's ruling that California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional could buoy his push to legalize the unions in Maryland.
The lower court in California found that Proposition 8 — a measure approved by California voters in 2008 in an effort to limit marriage to one man and one woman – was unconstitutional.
The House version of Gov. Martin O'Malley's same-sex marriage bill is introduced in the House of Delegates.
The House bill went in with 56 co-sponsors, including House Speaker Michael E. Busch. New cosponsors included Baltimore County delegates Jon Cardin and Adrienne A. Jones, both Democrats.
Gov. Martin O'Malley voiced support for his same-sex marriage bill during a Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing in Annapolis.
"We all want the same thing for our children," O'Malley said. "It is not right and it is not just that the children of gay couples should have lesser protections than the children of other families in our state."
More than 300 protesters filled a courtyard in front of the State House in Annapolis on Monday evening, listening to ministers and chanting slogans in opposition to a same-sex marriage bill introduced by Gov. Martin O'Malley.
Appearing before some 3,000 people at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force "Creating Change" conference, Gov. Martin O'Malley told the national gathering that he would fight to make Maryland the seventh state in the country to allow same-sex marriage.
Gov. Martin O'Malley introduced legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. Called the Civil Marriage Protection Act, the new bill would offer broad protections for groups that would not want to perform or honor same-sex marriages.
Beginning January 2012, Baltimore County will grant health care benefits to spouses of employees in same-sex marriages if they were legally married in other states, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced.
The decision comes a month after an arbitrator ruled in favor of two county police officers whose same-sex spouses had been denied benefits by the county in August 2010. County officials had 30 days to decide whether to appeal the arbitrator's ruling, which said the county had violated the women's union contract.
Two Baltimore County Police officers who were denied health benefits for their same-sex spouses won their cases before an arbitrator, the first disputes of this kind to be decided in the department.
The arbitrator ruled that the county violated terms of the union contract when it denied benefits in August 2010 to the spouses of Officers Margaret Selby and Juanika Ballard. Both officers had married women out of state in the summer of 2009.
Baltimore is the favored jurisdiction among Maryland's 24 circuit courts for same-sex adoption petitioners.
The reason is because of a legal precedent written 15 years ago and because of local procedures that allow all Maryland residents — regardless of which county they call home — to file adoption paperwork in the city.
About 12,500 same-sex couples lived in Maryland, and about one in five had children, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report.
With legislation to legalize same-sex marriage expected in the General Assembly, Maryland's Roman Catholic bishops called on parishioners to act against the proposal and other measures that they say threaten "religious liberty."
In the 16-page statement sent to parishes throughout the state, the bishops said a same-sex marriage law would lead to violations of First Amendment rights.
The number of same-sex couples in the state increased by 51 percent over the past decade, and more than a quarter of those couples are raising children, according to 2010 data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Gov. Martin O'Malley announced that he will push harder for a same-sex marriage measure in Maryland next year if it mirrors legislation that passed in New York after changes were made to protect religious freedom.
"I think we can learn from what they did," O'Malley, a Democrat, said while attending the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City. "One of the things we're looking at in the drafting is how their clauses with regard to religious freedom were different from ours. That might improve our efforts. And I certainly plan to be very active in support of it, and we'll have other announcements in upcoming months."
The House returned the same-sex marriage bill back to the committee. House Speaker Michael E. Busch said his chamber won't see the issue on the floor again this year, even though the Senate passed it last month by a vote of 25-21.
By moving it back into committee rather than taking a final vote, the 141 delegates avoided putting on record their position on gay marriage. The decision angered observers on both sides, who said they wanted to see where each lawmaker stood.
A day after skipping a committee vote on same-sex marriage, two delegates said that they are prepared to register their positions on the issue. But the House Judiciary Committee had no immediate plans to schedule a new vote.
Dels. Jill Carter and Tiffany Alston — two sponsors of the House bill — threw a wrench into what was to have been a majority vote on the committee to send the divisive issue to the full House of Delegates.
The two were critical votes: The marriage bill needed 12 votes to clear the committee, and exactly 12 delegates had signaled their support by co-sponsoring the legislation.
Prospects for gay marriage in Maryland are in jeopardy after several delegates said that they are no longer certain they support it.
Legislation to recognize same-sex marriage, which sailed to relatively smooth passage last week in the state Senate, hit unexpected turbulence in a key House committee on Tuesday, when two of the bill's co-sponsors staged a walkout rather than vote in favor of it.
Dels. Jill Carter of Baltimore and Tiffany Alston of Prince George's County -- two Democratic sponsors of the House bill -- skipped a voting session, throwing a wrench into what was to have been a majority vote on the committee to send the divisive issue to the full House of Delegates. Last week, the civil marriage proposal won Senate approval.
Maryland's Senate voted 25-21 to approve the Civil Marriage Protection Act after two days of largely restrained and respectful discussion. Senators on both sides of the issue characterized the debate as "historic," and many said they had struggled with how to vote.
The bill moves onto to the House of Delegates, which appeared nearly evenly split on the issue.
A key senator announced his support for gay marriage legislation, giving it enough votes to clear the upper chamber.
The declaration by Sen. James C. Rosapepe came shortly after a Senate committee approved an amended version of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, setting up a debate in the full Senate next week.
Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola of Montgomery County introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (SB116). The legislation would permit same-sex couples to marry but would not require churches to perform the unions. A House version of the bill was also introduced.
City employees in Annapolis will be able to include same-sex domestic partners on their health plans starting July 1, Mayor Joshua J. Cohen announced. Annapolis joined several jurisdictions across the state that grant benefits to same-sex partners.
Same-sex domestic partners must submit an affidavit affirming that they live together and are in a relationship. The coverage included medical, dental, vision and prescription drug benefits.
According to the civil rights group Equality Maryland, about a dozen government entities across the state offered the benefits, including Montgomery and Howard counties, and the cities of Baltimore, College Park, Greenbelt, Hyattsville, Mount Rainier and Takoma Park.
A House of Delegates committee rejected a Republican lawmaker's attempt to impeach Maryland's attorney general over an opinion he issued recently on same-sex marriage.
Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. of Anne Arundel County had asked fellow delegates to initiate the impeachment process for Douglas F. Gansler, a Democrat, who said Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Dwyer says Gansler's opinion wrongly overturned state policy on such unions.
In a move to bolster gay rights, the Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow domestic partners to make medical and funeral decisions for each other, share a nursing home room and visit at their hospital bedsides.
The legislature was also considering measures to exempt domestic partners from inheritance and certain real estate taxes, which proponents say are needed if broader protections were not enacted.
Washington D.C. began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It followed in the steps of Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the measure into law in December, but because the District of Columbia is not a state, the law had to undergo Congressional review.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released a long-awaited opinion saying that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. However, the ruling does not enable same-sex couples to wed in Maryland.
A Baltimore County delegate introduced legislation that would ban recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.
Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County, introduced House Bill 90 as Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler prepares to issue his opinion on whether the state must recognize same-sex marriages from out of state.
Effective July 1, 2009, the State of Maryland Employee and Retiree Health and Welfare Benefit Program began covering same-sex domestic partners and their eligible dependents who meet the criteria as outlined in the COMAR 17.04.13 regulations as eligible dependents under the Program.
On July 1, 2010, the Program was updated to include same sex spouses as eligible dependents.
Gov. Martin O'Malley signed two domestic partnership bills into law: (SB) 566 and SB 597.
SB 566 gave domestic partners the legal right to visit one another in the hospital and make funeral arrangements for each other, among other rights. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Robert Garagiola (D-Germantown) and cross-filed by Del. James Hubbard (D-Bowie).
SB 597 added domestic partners to the list of family members an individual can add or remove from the deed of his/her home without incurring fees and taxes. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Rona Kramer (D-Olney) and cross-filed by Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Burtonsville).
The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow domestic partners the same right as married couples to avoid paying taxes when adding each other to home property deeds to create joint ownership.
But a key Senate leader said that another tax bill to exempt domestic partners from inheritance taxes might not get a vote this year. The two tax bills and a third measure, which would grant domestic partners the right to medical decision-making and hospital visitations, passed by the Senate this week, had been sought by gay rights activists.
More than a dozen state lawmakers testified in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland, an unusual show of legislative support even as it is unclear if proponents will be able to muster the votes for passage this year.
The House Judiciary Committee also heard bills that would establish civil unions or domestic partnerships and a bill to put a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage on the November ballot.
"You don't have to like us," Del. Heather R. Mizeur, who is openly gay, testified. "You don't have to invite us to dinner with your family. You don't even have to respect us and our relationship. But we do expect you to treat us equally under the law."
Gay-rights activists rallied in Annapolis and met with dozens of lawmakers to lobby for same-sex marriage, predicting they are close to having the necessary votes in the legislature only five months after Maryland's highest court upheld the state's ban on such unions.
The first hearing on legislation to legalize same-sex marriage was held Thursday before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The panel also considered a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions as well as bills to create domestic partnerships that would replace civil marriage and to allow so-called covenant marriage, a legally distinct matrimony that's optional and limits grounds for divorce.
A panel of Maryland lawmakers signed-off on a definition of "domestic partner" as part of a law passed last year requiring health insurers to offer domestic partner benefits.
A “domestic partnership” is a relationship between two individuals who are • at least age 18; • not related by blood or marriage; • not married or in a civil union or domestic partnership with another individual; • and agree to be in a relationship of mutual interdependence in which each individual contributes to the maintenance and support of the other individual and the relationship. An individual who asserts a domestic partnership may be required to provide • an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury by two individuals stating that they have established a domestic partnership; and • proof of any two of an enumerated list of documents.
Maryland's highest court rejected same-sex marriage and upheld the state's 34-year-old statute defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
In a case watched closely around the nation, the Maryland Court of Appeals' 4-3 ruling dealt a blow to gay and lesbian advocates who launched their fight to overturn the state's marriage law three years ago. Advocates pledged to take the battle for marriage to the General Assembly, where two lawmakers have already said they will sponsor legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.
Health Insurance - Family Coverage Expansion Act is approved.
It required insurance policies or contracts to provide that the same health insurance benefits and eligibility guidelines that apply to covered dependents are available, at the request of specified persons, to specified domestic partners and child dependents of domestic partners of the insured; authorizing insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and health maintenance organizations to require specified proof; requiring the Maryland Insurance Commissioner to adopt regulations to implement specified provisions of the Act; etc.
Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer initiated the impeachment process for Judge M. Brooke Murdock, charging the court with "violating the public trust, abuse of power, incompetence, willful neglect of duty, and misbehavior in office."
His move followed a Murdock's ruling to overturn Maryland's marriage law, siding with nine gay couples in a lawsuit.
The resolution is later defeated.
After a day full of partisan maneuvering and impassioned debate, a House of Delegates committee rejected a bill that would place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot.
Before the committee rejected the measure, some Democratic lawmakers voted to amend the bill to allow for civil unions, which confer some of the benefits of marriage. Republicans immediately accused Democrats of partisan ploys and inserting a "poison pill" into the measure designed to avoid a debate on the House floor over the politically explosive issue of gay marriage.
In the end, the bill was defeated 22-0. Seven Republicans voted against it because of the added civil-unions provision, and Democrats rejected it because they don't think an amendment is necessary.
Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock struck down the 1973 marriage law, ruling in favor of nine gay couples who contended the prohibition violated the state's equal rights amendments.
The judge ordered the law be overturned, but she stayed her order pending an appeal, which was immediately filed by the state attorney general's office.
Murdock's ruling comes at a time when courts and legislative bodies in several states are taking a look at the divisive issue of same-sex marriage, and it drew immediate praise and condemnation from varied groups, including Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., which called Murdock "antichristic."