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February 23, 2011

Same-sex marriage bill passes first hurdle in Senate

Maryland's Senate voted 25-22 in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry after a fairly short and focused debate.

The bill has not yet cleared the body, but the vote is a positive sign for supporters of the legislation. It could go to final passage as early as Thursday. (See vote tally after the jump.)

The supporters beat back a series of unfriendly amendments during the morning debate. Most were offered by Republican members who wanted to make technical changes to the bill that would allow more people or businesses to opt-out of providing services at same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The bill was amended so that religious organizations - like the Knights of Columbus - would not have to provide insurance to same-sex couples. Bill sponsors supported the change.

The only unfriendly change adopted was Sen. Anthony Muse's suggestion to name the bill the "Civil Marriage Protection Act." It was introduced as the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

The tone of the debate was fairly restrained, through after a several amendments were withdrawn, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller sounded slightly irritated with his members.

"I think we are going way too far with these amendments," Miller said. "It is going a little too far. I think they are well intended, but I think we are going too far."

Vote tally
Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Bill Ferguson, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jennie Forehand, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Lisa Gladden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Verna Jones, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat
Sen. Delores Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nancy King, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Richard Madaleno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Roger Manno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Paul Pinsky, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Victor Ramirez, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. James Robey, Howard County Democrat
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Ronald Young, Frederick County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)

Sen. John Astle, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Joanne Benson, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. David Brinkley, Carroll and Frederick counties Republican
Sen. Richard Colburn, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. James DeGrange, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Roy Dyson, Southern Maryland Democrat
Sen. George Edwards, Western Maryland Republican
Sen. Joseph Getty, Baltimore and Carroll counties Republican
Sen. Barry Glassman, Harford County Republican
Sen. Nancy Jacobs, Harford and Cecil counties Republican
Sen. J.B. Jennings, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican
Sen. James Mathias, Eastern Shore Democrat
Sen. Thomas Middleton, Charles County Democrat
Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, Prince George's and Calvert counties Democrat
Sen. C. Anthony Muse, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. E.J. Pipkin, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. Edward Reilly, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Christopher Shank, Washington County Republican
Sen. Bryan Simonaire, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Norman Stone, Baltimore County Democrat

Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:17 PM | | Comments (72)


According to this article, same-sex couples may soon have the right to VOTE in Maryland.

A swing and a miss.

Something is wrong. How can you have Brochin in both the "for" and "against" columns.

Just FYI, you have Sen. Brochin as both "for" and "against." :)

Still waiting for someone to offer up a rational explanation for how he (or she) is affected by the marriage of two people he doesn't know.

Senators Stone, et al.: if you don't want to marry someone of the same gender, don't. But don't impose your religious ideology on everyone else.

Reluctant props to Senator Miller, who I suspect in his heart knows that this law is the right thing to do, and therefore is not killing it procedurally as he otherwise would have the power to do.

So did Sen. Jim Brochin vote FOR or AGAINST? He's listed as "going both ways". LOL

So instead of helping struggling Maryland families find work so they can pay record high taxes, our esteemed legislators are fiddling with this nonsense. What's next, changing the state flower or crustacean?

I'd also suspect the Sun will need to revise the vote list. Sen. Brochin voted for AND against it?

Still, kudos on the civility of the debate and the speed of addressing this inequality.

At this rate, I'll be able to marry my partner by years end.

You have Sen James Brochin on the for and against list. I believe he voted for. You should correct this.

Your vote tally is inaccurate. You listed Jim Brochin as both a yes and a no vote, and you left out Jim Rosapepe (who voted yes) altogether. Please fix.

Sen. Rosapepe is missing from this list if the vote count was in fact 25-22.

Not to be a downer...
but since you've mentioned the first hurdle perhaps you'll list the whole list of hurdles involved both before and after MOM signs the bill.

Ya'all keep your eyes peeled for that fat lady. OK?

The Dems who voted against it? They did that because their religious views wouldn't let them vote for it. It has nothing to do with any sort of backroom dealing where the FOR was decided and Dems who may be in iffy re-election positions were given the okay to vote NO. Things like that just don't happen.

Re: "So instead of helping struggling Maryland families find work so they can pay record high taxes, our esteemed legislators are fiddling with this nonsense. What's next, changing the state flower or crustacean?"

We can't simply focus on just one thing at a time as a society or everything would stop. This is important to a number of our citizens as well and deserves time being spent on it.

Any attempts to bring this to referendum should be physically halted at the ballot box by the National Guard and State Police.

The majority CANNOT constitutionally vote to repeal the rights of the minority.

Dear out of work:

How dare you compare civil rights to trivial issues like the state flower. Neither my partner nor I complain when our tax money goes towards public schools for your children and various public aid programs to support you while you're out of work.

Any man or woman who desires to be with a person of the same sex not only needs therapy, but is a damn fool!

The residents of Maryland should be allowed to vote on this.

Maryland has just officially claimed that they worship the DEVIL. Leviticus chapter 18 verse 22 in the HOLY BIBLE !!!!!

Referendum, just like other states got, thanks. And blarg, you can't just always call what you want a constitutional right...what part of the constitution deals with same sex marriage?

Also, referendum is part of the process that is the only way to repeal a constitutional right...have you actually read the constitution?

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your cowardly and insightful Anonymous blog comments. I am a woman who loves a woman. I also happen to BE a therapist. Shocking eh?

Maryland has just admitted that they worship the DEVIL... Leviticus chapter 18 verse 22...

Congratulations to the 25 brave state senators who voted FOR the bill, and voted against the bigots in their district.

Anonymous, openness, love, and acceptance will win over your hate, narrow minded, backward thinking. Maybe you are the one who needs therapy, since you seem to have such a horrid opinion of your fellow citizens.


I am so disappointed to see that all of you from AA County voted AGAINST this bill. You can be sure I will remember this the next time your name is on a ballot.

Great News...File Maryland as one of the most progressive states.

RE: Anonymous... Any man or woman who desires to be with a person of the same sex not only needs therapy, but is a damn fool!

Why should a person be judged for who or what it is that makes them a happy person? Maybe YOU need to be in therapy for not being in with what is acceptable in the 21st century.

I've been in a same-sex "marriage" for nearly 10 years. The guy with whom I share this relationship has always referred to me as his husband, because "boyfriend" sounds like a high school crush and doesn't accurately describe what we are to each other. We also wear wedding bands as a symbol of our love for and commitment to one another. As far as I know, our actions have not destroyed any marriages.

Let freedom ring

Thank you to all the State Senators who voted to pass this bill through this first round in the Senate and to those who assisted in voting down amendments that were truly unreasonable and unfair to gays and lesbians across this state.

I see a few comments about how we should be talking about jobs and not same-sex marriage here. I would like to remind these commenters that this is an economic security bill for thousands of gay and lesbian couples in Maryland. Frankly, economic security is important to our family and the removal of additional legal burdens on gay and lesbian families like ours is most appreciated. It's nice to know legislators now understand this.

I believe that we need to keep marriage should stay between a man and woman. This is not what Maryland needs.Our leadersneed to take up the buget issues and leave the same sex relationships to the votersin2012. This is for voters to vote onand not our sen.

....don't talk to me about your Leviticus dude if you eat shrimp, lobster or allow physically handicapped people into your church, for then, you are a DEVIL Worshiper!!!!

Wow, Sen AStle is no longer my Senator. I am so disappointed in his no vote. Time to work for a new Senator!

And what about Senator Muse! I thought Pat Lawson Muse wold wake her husband up and shake him out of the dark ages!

Come on...The GOP are not Bible thumpers, or bigots because they oppose same sex marriage..The GOP is against this because they are for lower taxes... they dont want gays to be subjected to higher tax rates when they file joint tax returns!

What in the world did this bill ever have to do with religious freedom if some religions supported it while others opposed it? Sounds like some silly moniker addition.

I support same-sex marriage provided we don't force it on anyone else. Meaning if a wedding photographer is hardcore Christian and doesn't support the practice of same-sex marriage then they should not be liable if they turn down said client. I'm not sure why this is controversial. If they don't want to do it then why would a gay couple want them there anyway?

Lot of innuendo that opponents must be bigoted or opponents must be anti-religious--that stuff really needs to stop because it's not rooted in fact.

It's not about how it may affect me or anyone else, it's about the continual dismantling of institutions of a society. Most of us on the right do not care what people do or don't do in the bedroom and do not judge another on it. If gay marriage is permitted in MD I would like you to tell me where does it end? If the definition is changed, who is now defining it? Should it be only between two people?

Once it will be legal for these crazy people to get married. I will leave MD.

I dislike when people use terms like "traditional marriage" when they're talking about opposite-sex marriage. In most cases, there is not much difference. Both same-sex and opposite-sex marriages have their ups and downs. The couples pay bills together, buy real estate together, sometimes raise children together (sometimes not), walk the dog together, vacation together, etc. So what I am getting at is "Gay Marriage" IS traditional marriage in virtually every sense of the phrase. Gay honeymoons, on the other hand, now that's a different story!

It does not mean that you are a therapist that you do not have sex issues... It you think a man sticking a penis in another man..and mounting him is progress.. you need to know what values are and respect for natural relationships are. You are living an abnormal life..You need to seek a normal a therapist to fix your issues

A man calling another man "husband" is as sick and twisted and un-natural as it gets.

One can only hope this slippery slope ends here and not at some other sick un-natural definition.

If this bill becomes law then all rules are off the table. If it's ok for two men or women to marry each other ,why shouldn't a man or woman be allowed to have two,three or more husbands or wives. Why should any rules whatsoever exist. Alter all rules may make someone unhappy and we wouldn't want that.What we are seeing here is the beginning of the end.

According to the word of GOD. IN THE BOOK OK OF GEN 2:18,22-25 read it for you self. This is a woman that GOD gave to man. Not a man for man nor woman for a woman. This is the beginning of the first marriage. Which is a pattern in which GOD have set before man today.

A marriage by any other name would not smell as sweet. Having "marriage" for opposite-sex couples, and "civil unions" for same-sex couples would imply a hierarchical value judgement on the relationships. For example, the common misguided assumption would continue that straight people have marriages because their unions are morally sound and blessed by God and the church, while gay people have "civil unions" because they're on the fringe of society, different from the norm and possibly inferior. Haven't we learned yet that "separate but equal" is NEVER equal?

If this does go to referendum, it will be interesting to see if Maryland will become the first state to defeat such a referendum. The day is coming very soon when the majority will support marriage equality; polling shows a strong generational bias on this issue, with young people overwhelmingly favoring it.

...oh, and for what it's worth, I'm a gay man trained as a mental-health counselor. :-)


RE: Comment on "I support same-sex marriage provided we don't force it on anyone else."

You realize this is violating public accommodation laws. The customer should decide if the vendor is appropriate and not the vendor. This is like saying (in your example) that a wedding photographer wouldn't work for a customer who was African-American or any other minority. We wouldn't tolerate that behavior in business now, and we shouldn't tolerate it in general in the future with gays and lesbians in the future.

Another example would be going to the grocery store and saying "sorry you can't buy groceries here because you are White/Asian/African American/Disabled."

Re: ai's comment, "If you think a man sticking a penis in another man and mounting him is progress.. you need to know what values are and respect for natural relationships are."

You probably think that sticking your penis into your own fist is the only natural relationship, because with the ugly way you express yourself, I doubt you'd be able to find any willing partner, male or female. And if you are married, I pitty the fool who gets mounted by you.

A questions to supporters of the same sex-marriage (no insults please) : Does it have to be call a marriage?

Why can't it be call something else? You guys could invent a new word to define the joining together of same sex couples. Sarah palin invents words maybe she can help in this department.

On a more serious note, Don't you think it is an infringement to the rights of those opposing this bill?
Why change the definition of marriage as we know it?

I think this is wrong and equally love gay couples. They have the god-given right to live any way they please..God doesn't infringe on my will and neither should I, a mere mortal, infringe on the rights of others. At the same token, my rights shouldn't be infringed upon.

I'm not a man sticking my penis in another man. I am a woman who loves another woman (I don't need to explain teh mechanics because it's usually most hetero men's fantasys.) Neither the APA nor the DSM IV classify it as a mental disorder. I don't have issues. We have a 6 figure plus household income and pay taxes to send the 'breeders' children to school and to pay for the WIC, SNAP, TCA etc that single mostly heterosexual women collect after their 'natural' and 'moral' men impregnate them and leave.

Do you really want to go on record as supporting anal intercourse? To quote George Orwell--"We are living in the age of universal deception. Telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.

Those who pound the liberal agenda should take notice that there are many dems who side with the republicans on this bill. Guess they're just as bad, racist, homophobic, etc. . . .BIG SURPRISE

Don't be a slave to your party!!! Think for yourself.

Gays, you owe me. I don't know any gays, I don't interact with any gays but I've been with you on this from the beginning. I've signed every petition, ballot referendum and have written my elected representatives several times on this matter. The least one of you could do is invite me to your wedding and reception.

Hooray for these legislators for Standing on the Side of Love!

God created Adam and Eve....Not Adam and STEVE! Somone's sexual preference should not be paraded for all to see. Aren't children screwed up enough without trying to explain same sex moms & dads. Everyone who voted to turn down the bill KUDOS and keep fighting!!

I've really got to wonder if any of the folks referring to Leviticus have ever actually READ it in its entirety.

Have they eaten pork lately? Lobster? (Lev 11:7-10) Sin! Do their wives make their monthly sin offerings after their periods? (Lev 12) No? Unclean! Worked on the Day of Atonement? (Lev 16:29-31) Scandal!

And hey, let's not forget that Leviticus also says that it's ok to have slaves (Lev 19:20) or to take a second wife, as long as it's not your wife's sister (Lev 19:18). Then bigamy's perfectly cool.

Even a cursory skimming of Leviticus shows that anyone who quotes it as a justification against same-sex marriage, without also espousing its other "outdated" passages, is clearly picking and choosing their passages on some other basis besides religion.

This really gets me, all the people that have to bring religion and other nonsense into politics. KEEP IT SEPERATE LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!! Yes God hates gays, (yea sure. Ask about the washing of Christ's feet what that really means)

It's ok for us (The Gay communities) to pay taxes and donate money to places, and we are supposed to sit back and be treated like absolute animals.

We are all people we bleed the same, We deserve to be treated equally. No one is better than anyone else, we all deal with the same problems, and all of us have skeletons somewhere in the closet.

This bill is not about sex -- it's about companionship, love, family, and respect. But hey, if you want to keep thinking of gay sex every time this story comes up then go ahead. It's your brain.

Oh ai, you are one sick and angry puppy.

@Blah Blah: You sound EXACTLY like people who argued for Jim Crow laws back in the day. I'm talking about the people who convinced themselves that just because they didn't want to serve black people in their establishments, it didn't make them bigots.

Everyone in the world has an emptiness that they think that they can fill with something other than JESUS CHRIST.People,places and things cannot fill your personal emptiness.Only JESUS can fill your emptiness with his spirit.The HOLY SPIRIT and your desires are ENEMIES of each others.The desires of the world CANNOT fill your emptiness whatever it may be !!!!!

I am so proud to have Senator Zirkin representing me!

Also, re- referendums: referendums should NEVER be allowed when it comes to civil rights issues. The majority should NEVER be allowed to vote on the rights of the minority. Say it's the 1960's, for instance, and a majority-white state has a referendum to vote whether or not black people and other minorities should have the same rights that white people do. Do you see why this is problematic?

Anonymous who schooled religious cherry-pickers on what Leviticus also says: spot on, dude. Christians, please try to remember that you do not have the right to legislate for ALL based on your personal religion. Can you imagine if another religion attempted to legislate their beliefs onto you? That would be uncool, right? So, you know-- stop.

You guys railing about "OMG if this passes, what's the point of marriage being between two people?!?!" ... guys know that in the Bible, there were OFTEN more than two people in a marriage, right? Have you actually read this Bible you keep referring to?

As long as everyone is involved is a legally consenting adult, what does it matter to you, anyway?

It's time for Maryland, and for the whole country in coming years. Im sick of these contagious hypocrite religious people. If you follow the whole scriptures, then FOLLOW it ALL, don't pick and use Christ on your biases. You know Christ DENY you on the judgement day if you continue doing that!!

I want to thank my Senator, Joan Carter Conway, for voting for marriage equality. And I would note that all 3 of our Delegates are sponsors in the House, and two of those are openly lesbian. Our district is one that fully supports tolerance for all of our neighbors, and I am proud that the orientation of our delegates has never been an issue in the election. And I am proud that Maryland will now be one of the first states to support marriage rights for all. I would remind people that until 1928, only Christian ministers could legally perform weddings in Maryland, until the early 1960s, only clergy could perform weddings, and until 1967 weddings between whites and blacks and between whites and Filipinos were prohibited. Now our state is on the right side of history.

Dear hateful people,
God has come to me in a vision and has told me that you are in for a big surprise come judgment day. God specifically told me that those who demonize gay people because of a sick and twisted interpretation of his holy word will not be welcome in his kingdom.
Go ahead, don't believe me. You will find out.

Country's broke, State's broke. The saving grace is the gays can get married, and you want to know whats wrong with this country. Screw the gays and get to work on things that matter.

To Anonymous RE: "Parading one's sexual preference"

When did you decide to be straight? A hard question to answer isn't it? Heterosexuality is "paraded" (as you say not me) around in our society every day. We gays and lesbians do not have an issue with that. You shouldn't have an issue with us then. People are who they are. There is no choice. As long as we teach our children to respect others, conduct themselves in a respectful and appropriate manner, and lead by example, the next generation will turn out ok.

It passed the Senate, and yet somehow I still love my wife just as much as ever. It's a gay miracle!

For those who say this is redefining marriage, please open a dictionary. Merriam Webster, def.#2. And for those citing Leviticus, are you okay with lesbian marriages? The Bible is pretty specifically against man-on-man sex.

It just isn't right. We know it isn't right and yet we are afraid that we will irritate the loud minority. I am tired of the "in your front gayness" that has pervaded this country. Please go back in the closet.

Maryland citizens should be proud to be on the way to equal marriage rights. You'll be on the right side of history. It's taking us forever to get this done in California, but we will. Congratulations!

It really sad to hear that both lesbian and gay men are throwing up "Civil Rights" for their cause, there is nothing civil about same sex marriage, it goes against GODS LAW and the Constitution. Where in the Bibile does it say that marriage defines man / man and woman / woman? where In the Constitition does it say that marriage is defined as the same sex? its sad that the Civil Rights leaders died for nothing, the true cause for the march was to fopr fare wages and living conditions, both men and women getting equal shares at oppurtunities that would better their homes and neighborhoods, that the children get the same education as suburban kids, that Joe is seen as an equal at the work place, not steve forcing his lifestyle of wanting a man or jane wanting to be with jill. This law has just opened a can of hurt for those wanting "civil union" to be accepted, rest to sure it will be violence against those wanting the way of life to be accepted.

@Tony Heath,

You're absolutely right. The Constitution makes no mention of marriage at all, let alone same-sex marriage. It also makes no mention of radio, television, or the Internet -- each of which seems to find itself regulated under its terms. The Constitution does explicitly allow slavery, though. Or at least it did, until a series of Amendments changed that.

One of those Amendments (the Fourteenth) includes the clause, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." I see nothing in that phrasing that excludes me (a Gay man) from the protections of the Law. I see nothing that limits access to "privileges" to heterosexuals. Yes, the Constitution is mute on sexuality. Equal access to civil marriage is, therefore, a civil right, just as deserving of pursuit as access to housing, education , and lunch counters. Just as your parents' generation was "forced" to accommodate racial integration, this generation is coming to understand that true application of the Constitution requires "accommodation" of fellow citizens who may be different from you and who have needs before the Law with which you are uncomfortable. The Constitution isn't about sustaining a comfortable majority, after all. It's about "liberty and justice for all."

And, Mr Heath,

Your threat of violence against your fellow citizens bespeaks a "right" you do not have.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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