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February 8, 2011

Senate president preparing for gay marriage debate

With supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage flocking to Annapolis for today's Senate committee hearing, the chamber leader said he is preparing for a robust debate among all 47 senators as soon as next week.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller opposes gay marriage and civil unions, but the Southern Maryland Democrat said today that "it's a generational issue." He assessed the legislation's chance of passing the full Senate as better than 50-50.

Miller today renewed his promise to help prevent the legislation from becoming mired in an endless floor debate. If the sponsors can collect their 24 votes, Miller said, he will find the 29 votes needed to cut off a filibuster.  

The bill, which its 18 Senate sponsors call the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, is expected to be approved by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. That panel will vote in the next few days, after listening to testimony from gay couples, religious leaders and countless other citizens at a lengthy hearing this afternoon.

Equality Maryland brought dozens of members to the State House for a press conference at 11:30 a.m. (Pictured. Credit: Annie Linskey) Many will then squeeze into what is sure to be a crowded Senate committee room for the 1 p.m. hearing.

Notable at the press conference: Sen. Allan Kittleman, the only Republican senator to back same-sex marriage.

The fate of the bill in the full chamber appears to be in the hands of the six senators who have not taken a public position. Only after Senate approval would the House of Delegates begin considering the measure.

Miller said he advised senators who might feel torn about how to vote to "just keep smiling," since the legislation involves families and religion. "You can't question how anybody votes on this issue."

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 11:40 AM | | Comments (53)
Categories: 2011 legislative session
        

Comments

Tragic really. And how can this guy 'oppose' gay marriage if he's going to help them facilitate it by opposing a filibuster? Never trust a Democrat. Some Republicans will let you down but pretty well ALL Dems will let you down for sure.

It's about time Maryland joined the equality train. And Observer, shut up, you're not living in 2005 anymore.

Observer,

There is a difference between having a position on a bill, and trying to prevent others from exercising theirs.

Senator Miller may oppose marriage equality, but that does no mean he has to try to stop the democratic process over it.

Some marry for financial reasons. Some marry to get away from their parents or to get back at someone. Some marry because they feel sorry for someone. And of course, many marry because they have a lust for someone, which fades after time and cannot hold a marriage together. What is the main purpose and function of marriage? The main purpose of marriage is to honor God. Same sex marriage, after what God did at Sodom and Gomorrah and what the bible says about marriage being between one man and one woman, doesnt do that.

I kept reading form the homosexuals that they do not think this is something that should be put to a popular vote then they want this popular vote!

"You can't question how anybody votes on this issue."

Voting one way HURTS some people and makes no difference in other people's lives.

Voting another way HELPS some people and makes no difference in other people's lives.

I’m so proud to be a Marylander!!! We’ve finally got all of our ducks in a row to legalize same sex marriage, and not call them the more P.C. civil unions. I just pray that we stay strong and fight the fight into the court rooms where it will doubtlessly go next.

I think the bill will pass. The larger battle will be when the opposition demands a referendum.

Equality Maryland isn’t prepared to fight that battle. They have neither the finances nor the manpower. Sure, they will bring in help from outside, they have already done so. They are putting all of their eggs into fighting NOM (National Organization for Marriage) and the usual suspects like the Family Research Council.

But the more powerful opponents are local African American identified churches and the Maryland Catholic conference. Each of these groups has widespread local support. The traditional black churches have people power and the Catholics have cash, lots of it. At the same time Equality Maryland has alienated many within the LGBT community.

The black community and the transgendered community have each been marginalized by EQMD and if they don’t fix that error before a 2012 referendum they’ll lose the battle. So far they’re in denial that a problem exists.

I think the bill will pass. The larger battle will be when the opposition demands a referendum.

Equality Maryland isn’t prepared to fight that battle. They have neither the finances nor the manpower. Sure, they will bring in help from outside, they have already done so. They are putting all of their eggs into fighting NOM (National Organization for Marriage) and the usual suspects like the Family Research Council.

But the more powerful opponents are local African American identified churches and the Maryland Catholic conference. Each of these groups has widespread local support. The traditional black churches have people power and the Catholics have cash, lots of it. At the same time Equality Maryland has alienated many within the LGBT community.

The black community and the transgendered community have each been marginalized by EQMD and if they don’t fix that error before a 2012 referendum they’ll lose the battle. So far they’re in denial that a problem exists.

We can not proport to live in a free country where some have rights that others do not. Simply by definition that is not a free society.

I’m so proud to be a Marylander!!! We’ve finally got all of our ducks in a row to legalize same sex marriage, and not call them the more P.C. civil unions. I just pray that we stay strong and fight the fight into the court rooms where it will doubtlessly go next.

Will the legislator holding the hearings allow OPPONENTS to speak?

A hearing on illegal aliens receiving state benefits allowed those in opposition to speak but DENIED those in favor of speaking. That is TYRANNY!

I'm amazed I feel for Thomas V. Mike Miller. He says he's against something, but notes it's a generational issue and will probably pass. What a small, sad man to see history, agree that it is passing you by, and still just sit on the porch and watch.

Please let me say it again, it's not GAY MARRIAGE it's CIVIL RIGHTS. Stop the malarkey, pass the marriage act. Then our reps in Annapolis can do real work. Budget, jobs, crime and transportation issues to name a few. This is Maryland, be proud of our state.

You are right Mr. Tobin when you write that “we cannot purport to live in a free country where some have rights that others do not. Simply by definition that is not a free society.”

Unfortunately in that regard Equality Maryland has relegated transgender Marylanders to second class citizenship by lobbying for a bill that would support discrimination against transgendered Marylanders in public accommodations. It is EQMD that is trying to create a “country where some have rights that others do not.”

Thanks for pointing that out.

http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2011/02/not-pot-to-piss-in-maryland-anti.html

http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2011/02/flawed-gender-identity-non.html

When do I get my civil rights?

My 17 wives want to know.

I hope this does not pass. The more we show support of gays the more they will become an accepted part of society.

Hasty conclusions are badly argued. If you're not on the floor find out how she's doing.

It's in the book of Leviticus chapter 18 verse 22.About gay people. Look it up. After Exodus. HONOR IT !!!

I'll be proud of my state when this bill becomes reality. It's bothered me for years that we waited so long to give equality to our fellow MD'ers. We should lead not follow. The flock who bow to everything their church commands will die lonely and full of hate. There is no God but there are living breathing humans who deserve equality.

Re Senate President Miller: His position is completely logical, understood from the perspective of one who divorces himself from this one particular issue, and cares more about the reputation of the State Senate in the long term. The State Senate will face equally divisive issues 50 years from now, long after gay marriage has been legalized and forgotten that it ever was an issue.

The Senate President wants to show that the State Senate is not an obstructionist body, and if a majority of the Senators want to approve a bill, he will let them. The people can always have their direct say at referendum time.

That is all. It is all about making the State Senate responsive to its constituents, through their directly elected representatives, the 47 State Senators.

Trans Guerrilla Girl:

"Unfortunately in that regard Equality Maryland has relegated transgender Marylanders to second class citizenship by lobbying for a bill that would support discrimination against transgendered Marylanders in public accommodations. It is EQMD that is trying to create a “country where some have rights that others do not.”"

This is incorrect. EQMD's work during the previous two legislative sessions was 90% about passing the transgender antidiscrimination bill. EQMD's support for the version you mention only came after a town hall meeting with trangender Marylanders who, on balance, expressed support for trying to pass the imperfect version if the public accommodations phrasing was going to be a fatal distraction. (I was there.)

I myself have a few reasons to be resentful of EQMD, but your simply wrong, and what you're saying can't be allowed to stand.

Donald, your celestial fantasies have no bearing on how the State should treat its citizens.

Put this issue to a Statewide Referendum! DO NOT LET LIBERAL Legislators cave to the push they are getting from Gay Rights groups. Married folks and other religious groups need to exert more pressure on the Senate and State House to oppose this bill!

Put this issue to a Statewide Referendum! DO NOT LET LIBERAL Legislators cave to the push they are getting from Gay Rights groups. Married folks and other religious groups need to exert more pressure on the Senate and State House to oppose this bill!

If we can redefine marraige to include a union between Tony and Jim, why can't we include Tony and his goat?

Australian Man Marries His Pet Dog
Joseph Guiso says the relationship is purely platonic.

http://bit.ly/i9Iq8y

I disagree with this...gay marriage is against the law and more importantly against what God has established. He made them, male and female, and that is the definition of marriage. This is between a natural born man and woman. I already expressed my concerns with my senators and hope all that know the truth will do the same

RMR, civil marriage involves a contract, and animals (or children, for that matter) can't enter into them, so your argument makes no sense.

Polygamy would be a better topic for you to bring up, and in fact I hope that the law will one day cease to favor any particular kind of adult relationship.

This decision about the definitin of marriage is one that should ONLY be decided by the voters of Maryland.

Look at what's happening currently in New Hampshire. After their legislature voted to force gay marriage on that state against the wishes of the voters, they voted them out of office, completely changing their state legislature, and are currently working to repeal that law. They are also working to repeal gay marriage in Iowa. Why put Maryland through that?

I would also remind the members of the Senate that, in every state where the voters have been allowed to vote on this issue, they have voted NO. I hope they remember that when they make their decision. Gay marriage is simply not something the voters of Maryland - or this country - want forced on them. They want to make this decision for themselves.

@Karen Grube,

you wrote, "I hope they remember that when they make their decision. Gay marriage is simply not something the voters of Maryland - or this country - want forced on them. They want to make this decision for themselves."

so let's all make our own decisions. If you do not want gay marriage, do not marry a gay person, but do not have your opinions "forced" on everyone else.

do u see the logic, hon? don't "FORCE" anyone to conform to someone else's rules be it government or individuals. If 2 women get married and adopt a kid, it doesn't harm you.

Just recently ALL Maryland legislators took an oath to uphold the Constitution. This Constitution has two major principles EQUALITY for ALL Citizens AND SEPERATION of Church and State. If these legislators now want to go back on that oath by supporting religious and personal prejudice, then I think they should immediately resign. There is no rationale reason to oppose gay marriage. It will not affect anyone's marriage negatively. I will not affect anyone's religion negatively. Yhose they say differently are lying through their personal and religious bigotry. Those that oppose equal rights for all do not deserve to represent anyone.1941;

If we can redefine marraige to include a union between Tony and Jim, why can't we include Tony and his goat?
---------
For the last time, RMR, because animals cannot give consent. Think we haven't heard that red herring argument before?

kdog,
There are already plenty of precedents of people "marrying" animals. Polygamy is a good extention too. The fact is that they have all been shown to subvert the principal of our civilazation and the word of God (re: Leviticus). There are reasons this has not been done successfully during the last 7,000 - 10,000(+) years in any civilizaion.

The Maryland State Senate is having hearing in Annapolis on Gay Marriage. I am so shock and surprise how many negative comments are attached to the artical in the Baltimore Sun blog under the story. People spew out quotes from the bible and how God dissaproves. I think a person who knows what God wants and approves of is nothing but an arrogant and foolish person.

A quote: " Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Clay:

Re " what the bible says about marriage being between one man and one woman," you really ought to try reading your own holy book sometime. The Bible clearly says that marriage is between one man and as many wives, concubines, sex slaves, and rape victims as he can afford to maintain.

Refering to the call for referendum... Had Legislators put Segregation up for vote would it have passed? What would the public have voted if interracial marriage was up for vote?
I'd also like to remind Marylanders of the 2nd amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". All religious arguments are unconstitutional.
Should the opportunity to vote on this issue arrive by referendum I have confidence the Maryland would be the first state to weather a referendum in favor of Same-Sex Marriage.

As far as having the people of Maryland Vote on Gay Marriage.....They need to remember. It didn't work out to well for the people in California who were against Gay Marriage "Prop 8: in Federal Court was ruled as Unconstitutional. I think the majority should be allow to dictate civil rights to the minority. I didn't vote on your right to marry !

@ BmoreGraphic : Please explain what you mean when you say “I'd also like to remind Marylanders of the 2nd amendment "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". All religious arguments are unconstitutional.””

Are we to take that to mean that you are opposed to this bill then since it is a religious bill. It was named the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act” by the sponsors and the LGB lobbyists, not by some right wing Christian advocacy group.

On February 3 Equality Maryland hosted a prayer breakfast with clergy in support of this bill that is based on religious arguments.

If you want to take religion out of the arguments you’ll have to run that past the sponsors and EQMD.

Our forefathers are rolling in their graves.I can't believe we are even considering this. I have no problem with gays getting the same benefits as the rest of us, but DON'T CALL IT MARRIAGE!!!

Listening, in person, to testimony at yesterday's hearing I heard opponents repeatedly say "people across the nation" do not want this type of bill to pass. It seems to me these conservative types of voters frequently cry out for decentralizing national law making and "leave it up to the states." I am a Marylander and I support SB116, and so do 51% of my neighbors. I think the folks from New Jersey (NOM) should go back home and let us decide what the laws in our own community will be. If they don't like it they don't have to come here.

Society and norms, civil rights, heck if that is an argument then let us have polygamy then, should be my " civil right" to marry as many woman as I want if that is a definition.And do not people have CIVIL UNIONS which allows people to have those shared rights...So let marriage be what society has defined it to be since man and womankind evolved. Time is for Maryland to stand up or it willgo to the voters and that is what the gay nmarriage advocates do not want..

The Bible HAS NO BEARING on this.

Who cares what it says?

It has no place whatsoever in public policy, nor the lives of those who are not Christian.

The overbearing will of the church brought our forefathers here so many years ago to found a new and better country.

Don't ruin it now.

one of the senators who is openly gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) is quoted in b (a paper published by The Sun, i believe) that using the term "partner" cheapens a relationship. really? as a man married to a woman for 20 years, i am offended. i call her my partner all the time, because that's what we are.

This is not a matter of civil rights. For it to be considered "civil rights", homosexuality has to be an immutable trait like race.But there is no conclusive evidence that homosexuality is immutable, simply due to the fact that there are many ex-gays out here.Of course, many in the gay movement try to delegitimize this fact with as many exceptions as they can, why? because they know that once you can prove that homosexuality is not immutable, you can no longer claim that it is a civil right. But even Robert Spitzer (the doctor responsible for removing homosexuality from the diagnostic manual in 1973) has come out and said that yes, homosexuals can and do change. Ask yourself, why don't we hear about that? Why do we only hear one side of the issue; at the very least, to be objective we ought to be able to hear all sides.

Also, if it were a matter of civil rights, then "all" types of unions must be considered marriage. For it to be a consistent law you cannot discriminate against anyone. Consider polygamy, there are studies that show that many people might be born with a polygamist orientation because they have problems committing to one person. Polygamy advocates could argue that legalizing polygamy will prevent discrimination against people with such an orientation, or people from cultural or religious backgrounds that permit it. They could also argue that it will help reduce infidelity. Unless you have a singular universally approved definition for marriage, you have to accept EVERYTHING, no exceptions.

Nobody ought to block gay couples from having the same rights as other couples. Civil unions ought to be legal in the US. But please don't force your definition of marriage as "two persons" on everyone else. If it needs to come up for a vote so the people could let their voice be heard, then so be it.


Has everyone forgotten? America has a dual epedimic killing whole families with HIV/TB, not to mention over 40 other deadly diseases from STD's...Oh...in case you don't know....these are mainly spread by....Male Sex with Male... check the stats by our own government...CDC...you will also find how to prevent these deadly diseases..."best prevention....no sodomy? No MSM? If Marylander's don't want the spread of these diseases, they have no choice but to fight against any bill that endangers there health and welfare! Our innocent children will fall prey to the lie's this lifestyle endorses and if they engage in this practice...like many Gay already...."They will DIE!" The arguments that church morals are your enemy and trying to oppose you...is not what you, "Gay Society!" GLSBN...need to worry about....your enemy...? Even if the bill is passed..."Is your lifestyle of rebellion even though you know...you know....it will kill you?" Yet...how much God loves you...even now he calls you out and into his loving arms! Your battle is for your physical and spiritual life......not Conservative and Liberal Differeces...????? How I wish your eyes were open....Why? Why do you want to die.....Already....Millions are dead....Billions of money is spent....and the disease spreads around the globe....orphans increase...STD's spread...no-one cares about the children! Adults...going mad!

will never agree. it is wrong. no-one will make me change my mind, i don't care how intimating, or threatening you are. it is wrong..the legislators dont agree with this they are punks who will not stand up to gays who continue to bully those who say no. I say no.

if you have kids, how is this ok, i dont care if EVERYBODY jumps on the train, EVERYBODY is wrong. i moved away, B-more is plagued by racism, poverty,LOW performing schools in the hood, all the money in the burbs with rich folks, crime, and with Larry Flynt in the middle of the city. Now this. Who will stand of the for family and marriage. How are people who identify as gay or not helped by giving people what they desire which will kill them. How is that love. Here's some poison, i love you. And they wonder why no one wants to live in this here the belly of the beast. Anybody who justifies this in their spirit KNOWS they are living a lie. Women cannot be men and men cannot be women. Let go of your rebellion and get over it. You can't DO whatever you want....even if the WHOLE world says its okay, you KNOW GOD says its wrong. I doubt this will be published. You can't silence God's word. The politicians and everyone will be held accountable. The conversation is so simple its almost insane how ppl's minds are twisted. There is no compromise on God's word. You have to decide what you want more. Money, living for yourself or GOD. Peace.

as a black american, whoever calls this a civil rights issue has bumped their head. HELLO? MLK was a MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL. Jesus cares about social justice, but HE told the women caught in adultery to 'go and sin no more'....so don't even go there.....

a,

What the heck does adultery or the gospel have anything to do with this? You don't own civil rights. Everyone is entitled to civil rights, including gay people.

This bill will pass if we like it or not. I , myself do not believe in gay marriage rights. I guess I must be labeled ( we all liketo belong to so\mething these days!) Homophobic. I don"t really care what to left labeles me these days. The cold hard fact remains that this is a "choice" . This also goes against God' will for man.
For those queers outside the box God leveled two cities many, many years ago. Why ??? Clue! Because it was a sin. If you are a none believer then forget it. It's not a sin goahead make your day. But if your heart and soul say this may not be the life style for me then get so help. Oh! not from man at first. Pray to God for guidence.
Now, go and sin no more!

Dear Robert Provins:

God has come to me in a vision and assures me that hateful bigots ( who label people as "queers" ) will be denied access to the Kingdom of Heaven. He specifically mentioned your name.

You are going to be so surprised on judgment day.

Marriage is meant to be sacred between man and woman, not woman-woman or man-man. I cannot believe this is even under consideration. If that is your lifestyle, than so be it. Gay people have same rights as any other individual man or woman. Two men, neither two women can reproduce, so that should stand for something. There's so many other important issues that warrnats attention and I frankly do not agree that this should be on the list. I have nothing against gay people, but I just feel that they try to sway people into believing in what they're behaviors and lifestyles because they believe it's ok.

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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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