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February 10, 2011

Same-sex marriage bill picks up new supporter

Baltimore County Sen. James Brochin will support legalizing gay marriage if, as expected, his attempt to change the contentious legislation into a civil unions bill fails.

Brochin, a Democrat, said his position changed after listened to a seven hour hearing in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. He said he felt "appalled and disgusted" by the "hate and venom" offered by opponents of the same-sex marriage bill.

"I'm not going to be a part of the vilification of gays on the senate floor," Brochin said. The switch gives supporters 21 votes; the bill needs 24 to pass on the floor. Six senators are either undecided or have not publicly announced their intentions. (See list after the jump.)

Brochin would prefer creating a civil unions statute, but acknowledged he does not have the votes in committee to support that. "I've always thought that everyone should have the same rights," Brochin said.

Mary Ellen Russell, of the Maryland Catholic Conference, said it is "unfortunate" that some opponents make disrespectful comments about gays and lesbians. "They do not speak for the majority of us," Russell said.

The senate committee is expected to vote on the same-sex marriage bill next Thursday, said Chairman Brian Frosh. At that time senators can offer amendments to the legislation. 

Question: Do you intend to vote for or against the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act?

Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County 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. Delores Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nancy King, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican
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. Ronald Young, Frederick County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)

Sen. Joanne Benson, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. David Brinkley, Carroll and Frederick counties Republican
Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Richard Colburn, Eastern Shore Republican
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

No public position/Undecided
Sen. John Astle, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George's County Democrat
Posted by Annie Linskey at 11:06 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: 2011 legislative session


Is Mary Ellen Russell of the Maryland Catholic Conference a genuine idiot, or a diabolical bigot? ""unfortunate" that some opponents make disrespectful comments about gays and lesbians. "They do not speak for the majority of us,"" The professional, anti-gay, Catholic Corporation, that she works for, isn't any different from the imbeciles she speaks against. Opposing marriage equality is pure religious bigotry, and she is the disgusting zealot that she speaks against.

It's official government discrimination, not unpleasant words, that do real harm to gay Americans

I don't care what they call it as long as heterosexual couples and homosexual couples have the same rights and privilages.

I really think the Politic of Washington D.C. and the Preist, Pstors, and Rev. need to go back and read the Bible. were in the Bible does it say. God loves all his children, but hate a certain religion, or belief? If eberyone could just come together and love each other I really think the world would finally have "World Peace"

The people will be watching closely who votes for this even if the candidates don't. The majority is against legalizing marriage between gays.

The reason I don't subscribe to the Sun anymore is because they refuse to post opposing points of view. Pretty evident from what is shown already. Good luck with your "News" paper! Your captcha sucks too. You try to read it.

MIke - 51% of Marylanders support gay marriage.

I am asking for your support in favor of legalizing Gay Marriage. In the history of our country we have NEVER done SEPARATE BUT EQUAL well. The social respect for a civil union or other service will never be what a marriage is accorded. When someone gets married no one asks if it was a religious service or not. Whether you jump out of a plane, are married on a beach or stand in front of a minister all married people are treated as having been “married”. To say that a civil union or other will be granted that standing is impossible given the US track record on separate but equal. Only a marriage will be treated with the respect it deserves. Since we have long combined the CIVIL marriage into the religious service many people seem to forget that CIVIL marriage in no way forces or assumes’ a religious support or acceptance of the union. We are not asking for the churches to approve or support Gay Marriage but I truly feel we as citizens of this state are entitled to the legal rights and recognition of CIVIL Marriage. I expect the same recognition for my marriage that you had for yours and without the title marriage it won't happen.

I am engaged to the most wonderful woman and would love to be able to marry her here in the state we live in. I was raised to believe that when you find the person you love and want to spend your life with that you marry them. My parents support my desire to get married to her and will be in attendance along with my brother, other family members and dear friends. From a purely financial perspective I would rather spend my money here and help the Maryland economy as I intend to have a nice wedding service with a reception afterwards. If necessary we will go to DC but I truly hope that we will be allowed to get married here. My love for her and my respect for and dedication to the institution of marriage in no way harms anyone else. . I am not a second class citizen and I hope you would not want me to be one.

We as a country instead of leading on this issue are behind a significant number of other developed nations in treating ALL their citizens as equal. I hope we in Maryland can at least join in recognizing everyone as being created equal

I just sent a second message to my State Senator, J.B. Jennings asking him to support either the civil union or same-sex marriage bill.

I believe that the majority of the state is for its passage and will work passionately for its approval.

We used to live in Senator Brochin's district and I was so proud to have him as our representative.

I feel there is an easy solution between the marriage versus civil union argument. The government should only recognize the concept of civil union for both heterosexual and homosexual couples alike. The word and idea of marriage does have religious connotations to it, which, frankly, has no place being formally recognized by the government, due to the separation of church and state. The government effectively views marriage as the incorporation of two people. Since they do not recognize the religious aspect of marriage anyway, why not just leave the term "marriage" to the church and use the term "civil union" for how the government recognizes 'marriage', regardless of whether that union is between a heterosexual or same-sex couple.

I hope you are wrong Dale. If 51% is all we have on marriage equality side then a referendum is assured.

The opposition will not have to persuade 3 percent of Marylanders to change their minds. They will only have to persuade 3% more of those already on their side to go to the polls. They are better positioned to do this that the single underfunded gay lobby, Equality Maryland, even with outside help from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and field organizers from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which EQMD Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets acknowledged are “on the ground.”

The opposition need only go to their church pews to get 3% more at the polls. EQMD is already frightened by that. Recently they got their panties twisted over a Catholic church bulletin. (See page 4 to see what they are all worked up over):

While the Maryland Catholic Conference holds a different stance than the LGBT community, this hardly deserves to be characterized as “devoting their Sunday bulletins to demonizing loving and committed couples. They must have missed the memo that 25% of Marylanders are Catholic when one of their brilliant strategists decided to post this as “Pitting the Rosary against your ring finger.”

If the “one out of ten” is correct then that’s how they can lose the 2.5% of the vote that is represented by gay Catholics.

EQMD is not poised for the battle Dale. And like most organizations of this kind they ignore the obvious even when it is stuck to the end of their noses.

Who cares how many Marylanders are Catholic? People need to STOP VOTING BASED ON THEIR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS! This is AMERICA - where we don't respect the establishment of religion. You are free to live under the guidelines of whatever religion you choose, but you can't enforce those rules on everyone. Marriage is not about religion, since straight atheists are allowed to marry. Marriage is about protecting the person you love. Stop enforcing rules written by your mythical space-wizard and support liberty for ALL.

Rex, you had great insight about Brochin's lightbulb moment yesterday. Do you know him well?

People were calling other people hateful and biggoted at the 116 hearing. It's not new. The two sides have traded these barbs for what's probably been about a decade now every time this bill comes up. Don't take my word for it. Pull the official audio of the committee hearing.

I support civil unions. I do not support gay marriage. Brochin is a cop out, to change his position because of the "words" of some idiots is just stupid.
Marriage has always been defined as between one man and one woman. If gay marriage passes, then why can't one man and two women be married or two men and one woman? If they all "truly" love each other and are consenting adults, who then has the right to define marriage as only between two people? You certainly can't use "tradition" as an argument.... If they are consenting adults you can not outlaw polygamy. Civil unions should absolutely be passed. Gay couples should be able to make legal decisions and get benefits but not marriage as it has always been defined. If you disagree specifically explain why two women and one man can't make the same decision. Aren't we violating their rights? If anything there is historical evidence of this type of marriage. (even still exists in some places in Africa and certainly in Biblical times).

Well, where does this train stop. next, someone will want to marry his daughter ofr vice versa. Otr a man willl want to marry three women. Hey, why not let smeone marry their friggin dog. its all about love where anything goes ,right? we're doomed in this state.

So Joe, we can't be what we are, but we have to accept everyone for what they are...if not for my morals and beliefs, how am I exactly to do it? Should I guess, or should I just wait for you to tell me what to do?

He didn’t just change his mind Ravnet. This was a planned media stunt. He played the gay lobby like an f.n. violin. First he says that the poor little peeps were demonized and that he is thinking about changing his position. Then he keeps them up all night tweeting while they awaited his press conference.

Now he is a hero. And since the gay lobby doesn’t care about voting records (Kittleman) he’ll have their
vote forever.

There is one born every minute.

Catholics just hate gays in a nice way.

Masses of ignorant people are easily unified with hate and fear. Hate is often the least common denominator when it comes to building political power. Anyone familiar with political campaigns knows this. Many organized religions are masters at this. I would like to think we have come a long way from the middle ages but sometimes I really wonder ...where do these awful comments are come from? Same sex marriage is no threat to heterosexual marriage nor is it a precursor to paligamy, incest, beastiality and child molestation. I am offended that one would put a gay person in the same category. It simply shows your own fear and ignorance of the issue.

Aiden, I took a look at your profile. You remind me of a CSI episode, "Fur and Loathing."

I don't hate you. I think you're kinda cute Mr. Brochin.

I am afraid that Ms. LaRocca has not seen the numerous polls demonstrating that a majority of Catholics actually support marriage equality. While the folks in the pulpit may continue to spew antiquated notions, the people sitting in the pews are with us.

Catholic support for equality has risen dramatically in the past year nationally, making Catholics the largest supporters of LGBT equality of any Christian denomination. A clear plurality and probable majority of Catholics in Maryland support civil marriage. A 2009 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll showed Maryland Catholics support for marriage equality at that time to be 49%, with only 43% opposing. In 2011 the 9% of undecided Catholics from that poll are likely to identify more closely with American Catholic social justice values and will have shifted into the support column.

Today Catholics are the most socially progressive Christian denomination in the U.S.

There are standards for the referendum process. It is not a done deal!

Maryland has a past of keeping important social issues off the ballot including attempts to prevent the addition of sexual orientation to the state anti-discrimination laws about a decade ago and most recently in Montgomery County where there was an effort to stop the inclusion of gender identity protections in the county anti-discrimination laws. They were unsuccessful!

First we have to secure the legislative win on this critical issue and then we do need to be ready to defend it.

It is also worth noting that IF it makes it on to the ballot, we have almost 18 months to get ready and to win!

@MLS: I am afraid that you are wrong MLS, I have not only seen the polls but have communicated with Catholics on both sides of the issue. I don’t know what pulpits you have visited sweetie but I have not heard any Catholic priest “spew antiquated notions.”

I would agree with you that “Catholics are the most socially progressive Christian denomination in the U.S.”

Last year the Maryland Catholic Conference did, in fact, oppose marriage equality. They also opposed the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination bill. But that bill they opposed on the grounds that religious institutions were not exempt. Those exemptions were provided for in the marriage bill. So as far as the Gender ID bill I think we can work out something with the Catholics.

The foremost reason is that there is absolutely nothing in Catholic doctrine or in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that speaks against the transgendered. Similarly no Pope has ever said anything ex-cathedra concerning it either. Then of course there is Joan of Arc, the transgender saint.

I am in total agreement with you that the people in the pews are on the right side in this issue. If you had read, rather than reacted, to my previous post you would have understood that I believe that Equality Maryland’s strategy is wrong. I explained it to them in a Facebook post which they immediately deleted, as they delete almost all opposition to their strategy:

“Instead of working with that reality you are posting silly stuff about rosaries. That will only win you anti-Catholic votes that you already have. Meanwhile your opponents can point to the anti-Catholic postings and show it to Catholics who have no skin in the game. Very poor strategy in my view.”

(For more on EQMD attempting to silence opposition follow this link. That said, the author who is not from Maryland misunderstood my relationship to TransMaryland. I am a supporter and a cheerleader. I am not a member or a leader. Their leader is wiser than me. )

Sorry to digress.

I wrote to Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Executive Director of Equality Maryland and told her about some of the things that the Maryland Catholic Conference promoted last year:

“Laws that would prohibit landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants on the basis of that tenant’s source of income, establish protections for victims of domestic violence who live in rental housing, strengthen prohibitions against human trafficking, give tax credit to employers to hire welfare recipients, place limits on employers’ ability to utilize a job applicant’s credit history as a condition of employment, modernize the unemployment insurance system making it consistent with Federal standards, and expand to all workers protections that currently apply only to retail employees regarding use of leave to observe holy days of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

If they vilify a group that does this much good for the community they make a strategic error that will cost them dearly. And you, MLS, do the same thing when you write about Catholics “spewing antiquated notions” from the pews. It does not happen.

This is the Faith of the Berrigan Brothers and Mary Moylan. Now those were activists who really did something; who took real risks. EQMD and their ilk should study them, not vilify them.

Bestiality, child molestation have nothing to do with the conversation...just a childish way for you to present your case. Both are with only one consenting partner. Please explain and use a simple reasonable adult explanation if that is possible for you, why one husband and two wives or two husbands and one wife, or three husbands etc.... can not be legal. All are consenting adults who love and are committed to each other. Why just two people? Again, give a reasonable explanation, maybe you can change my mind. I'm fairly certain you can't....

I wish the Catholic Church would spend more time in rooting out and ending the mass epidemic of their priests raping millions of children the last fifty years, and less time trying to destroy the lives of loving families trying to build a life together.

"By their fruits shall ye know them."

Tell me Brian, what has the Catholic Church actually done to destroy the lives of loving families?

So far all I have seen them do is, though the Maryland Catholic Conference, ask legislators not tho change the current definition of marriage.

Explain how that destroys families. Put the emphasis on "destroy" if you can.



If you will permit me to attempt a response on Brian's behalf....

The Catholic Church, represented in this discussion by the Maryland Catholic Conference, would render same-sex households -- including those raising children -- invisible. Those households would not exist in the eyes of the State and would, therefore, be "destroyed." The Bishops seem to have no compunction against dabbling in civil law that has no bearing or effect on their correct purview: religious ritual and dogma.

I think they would be “null” in that case, not “destroyed.” Those relationships would not be invisible. The MCC acknowledges that they exist and all members of such families are welcomed in the church. Yes, the USCCB more than merely dabbles in civil law, as does the MCC. Your argument is the beginning of a good argument.

That said, as you know, but Brian doesn’t. I fully support marriage Equality. What I wanted from Brian was an attempt to make an argument, as you do, that would engage the other side long enough to listen. If the goal is to win votes when this becomes a referendum using words like “rape” and “destroy” aren’t going to work.

As the ultimate sign of commitment loving couples can make, marriage parameters should neither be dictated nor restricted by government. Civil marriage is the ultimate commitment loving couples can make to each other. To deny that opportunity is morally wrong and contrary to the very values that we embrace and endorse. It is time to look at this matter maturely and sensibly. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (SB116) must be passed in order to support our Founders' intent that the right to pursue happiness be ensured. Same-sex marriage would not be harmful to anyone; indeed, it would enhance the sanctity of the Act and contribute to the moral fiber of family values! It's time to put prejudice and bias in the past where it belongs!

I see the arguments where same-sex marriage and civil union are used interchangeably. No one on the EQMD side of the equation wants to hear the concern about changing a fundamental building block of our society as well as every society before it. A marriage between males and females has been the basis of every civilization, yet we have the hubris to pretend that by changing that building block radically will have no negative effect on our society at all. I don't even see an acknowledgment that they have no idea the long term consequences of such a venture. That is why the wording is important. A civil union is to give protection to couples, but it is not a marriage, since by definition (see webster's dictionary published at the end of the 20th century) is between males and females.


Are you able to document a SINGLE instance in which same-sex marriage has had ANY specific negative impact in ANY jurisdiction in which it has been allowed?

Hint: Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation.

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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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