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February 25, 2011

House same-sex marriage hearing underway

The House committee hearing on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry opened this afternoon with testimony from bill sponsors, openly gay legislators and other supporters.

"This is not about abstractions," said Del. Heather Mizeur, as she introduced her wife, Deborah. "This is not about definitions."

The two married in 2008 in California, yet, the Montgomery County Democrat said, "right now we are legal strangers to each other."

After an hour, the committee switched to opponents and will continue to alternate as it makes its way through dozens of scheduled witnesses today. The audience has spilled over into a second viewing room.

Pastors, lawyers and the chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage were among the opponents to testify this afternoon. "Most of my adult relationships are untouched by the law," said Maggie Gallagher, chairwoman of the National Organization for Marriage. Of heterosexual marriage, she said, "these are the only unions that create new life."

Chairman Joseph Vallario, a Prince George's County Democrat, kicked off the hearing by saying his House Judiciary Committee would likely vote on the measure early next week. It is expected to clear the committee; a majority of members are co-sponsors.

The House testimony comes a day after the Senate voted 25-21 to approve legislation that would end Maryland's 38-year-old definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The measure's fate on the House floor remains a mystery, as the larger chamber appears about evenly split.

Del. Luiz Simmons, a Montgomery County Democrat supportive of same-sex marriage, delivered spicy testimony, poking fun at Eastern Shore Republicans and saying he'd reviewed the witness list and found that "God has not signed up either for or against" the legislation. Same-sex marriage opponents in the audience booed.

Del. Keiffer Mitchell said the state should continue its 400-year tradition of tolerance. He urged lawmakers to focus on the separation of church and state. "We don't make laws solely based on religious doctrine," said the Baltimore Democrat.

Del. Don Dwyer Jr., an Anne Arundel County Republican who has called himself "the face of the opposition" began his testimony with a prayer. He implored legislators to look to their faith.

"Look deep into your soul for the answer," he said.

Testimony is expected to continue for hours.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:11 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: 2011 legislative session
        

Comments

So glad our economy is doing great and that everyone has a job. Now we can focus on this nonsense.

Laurie,

When would be a good time for you? Pull out your appointment book and we will schedule our equality around things YOU deem to be more important than basic civil rights.

So by Ms. Gallagher's stated prerequisite of marriage as a union to create life, she would propose limiting state-recognized marriage to fertile couples. It follows that she would oppose allowing infertile heterosexual couples or those beyond the age of fertility to marry as well.

Why use the law to refuse happiness between two consenting adults?

First, we had no fault divorce,which led to a huge uptick in divorces.Now, Gay marriage. The institution of marriage is gradually being eroded.In the future, marriage as we know it, with a two parent heterosexual couple, will almost be non existatnt. In the black community today, only 30% of children are born into a two parent family. It was over 70% in 1950. In that same year, over 90% of white children were born into two parent families. That is down to 70% today. The decline will continue as we redefine marriage. This will not be good for our society.

Laurie:

Please refresh my memory as to the number of times people have said the same thing about the anti-gay legislation pending in various state legislatures.

@Charley and Laurie: Maybe you should move somewhere where they don't like freedom and govern based on their religious beliefs. You should fit right in, in the Middle East!

Charley, gays who want to marry will NOT prevent heteros from marrying and having children.... What exactly is your fear, that people will "turn gay" if they can marry? That's absurd. Give them equal rights and keep the Bible out of it.

Seems like the way to increase the number of kids being brought up in two parent households is to create more marriages. How does limiting the institution help to do that. If the state recognizes gay marriages, that means more kids being raised in two parent households. This means more stabilitiy and more protection of the family unit in which these children are raised.

Forcing people to be married who don't want to remain married, or worse are abusive toward each other doesn't help kids either.

Now if this legislation passes, it leaves unmarried familys with childern in a more disadvantaged state than the same sex couples. This is not right.

Charley, gay marriage has nothing to do with no-fault divorce or people who decide to have children without being married. 2 heterosexual people can still marry- nothing changes that- so you are just being illogical.

If this passes it is only temporary! The citizens of Maryland will get to vote on a Referendum next year and defeat it by a landslide! Liberals in office...we will take note on your vote on this issue. This is just like the collective bargaining issue as special interests get what they want from a certain political party. Again..enjoy if while it lasts! Civil Unions are ok with me and most of Marylanders!

Thankfully the legislation is about civil marriages. That word, marriage, is the key to provide the protections, benefits and rights that a union does not.

OK lets take religion out of this debate..even though Maryland was founded on religious freedom...Let us look at Social norms whch define deviance as well as society's global definitions of marriage. So Maryland is saying that marriage should no longer be defined by global norms created for societies survival f family but rather on a minority of individuals who wish for their own self interestsed deviance from the norm wish to legitimize .
I have no problems with civil partnership unions or "church"weddings of gays. But why does society have to sanction these unions as marriages. Oh yes we are in Maryland..So Gov O. Mealey mouth, good catholis you are.LOL you will no doubt sign this law but the voters will hav the final say..so I agree all this time and tax payer money wasted on this which will eventually be defeated by the voters on referendum. More money for a broke state. Well again the lawyers will love gay marriage as with same for awhile at least there will beGay divorces and well lawyers will be happy and GAY :)

Can someone explain what this means" Now if this legislation passes, it leaves unmarried familys with childern in a more disadvantaged state than the same sex couples. This is not right."

If the unmarried FAMILIES want the same rights as married ones, they can....wait for it.... it's coming... GET MARRIED!


Same sex marriage will not stop opposite sex marriages or hurt them. Check your calendars, it's 2011.

Remember God destroyed two cities because of this. God does not like this and we will pay if this law goes into effect.
Please do not waste the tax payers money on this nonsense.

Fred Nastri, I'm going to take a shot in the dark here and assume you're one of the 97.9% of super-conservative, stuck-in-the-past, white majority in Carroll County.

I'm also going to assume that you're over the age of forty, based on your obvious inability to master a keyboard.

It's truly sad that there are still people in this state that believe that any two people want to be married on the basis of "self-interested deviance from the norm." People want to marry because they love each other, and no one should be denied the right to do so.

And maybe this WILL be overturned in a referendum next year. On the bright side, my generation will outlive yours by approximately forty years, so enjoy your ignorance while you can. I can only hope that you can learn some basic human decency from your kids, but if not, there will be less of those intolerant of change soon enough.

Why do some people think voting on other persons civil rights is a good thing?
You wouldn't put to a vote a decision about weather Blacks, Jews or Blind persons can marry??? Why Gays!!!

it's unfortunate that individuals who work in the field of sociology and teach it to young adults feel the need to espouse such nonsensical beliefs. when one works for the state of maryland in multiple capacities in multiple state agencies/departments, assists in draining the state's coffers because enough is never enough, and drives around with a special placard on his windshield that says "hearing officer," he really has no right to trash the same state that feeds his greed. it puzzles me how people who are the parents of gay children can hold such hatred in their hearts for gays. they hate their own children. i'm sure it's reciprocal.

unfortunately, fred nasti, western maryland and the eastern shore (which I'm sure you hail from the former) is irrelevant in the grand scheme of state politics. the folks out there in the sticks, like chris shank, leroy, neil parakeet, et al are a superminority. chris shank comes from a caucus of barely a dozen in a nearly 50-seat chamber. he and his republican ilk, who share your outlandish, ultraconservative views (which, ironically, "deviate from social norms," as those views are not the social norm) have no voice. never will. it's unfortunate that folks like you and those GOP crazies in the GA will never realize that you don't fit in with the rest of the state. perhaps you should leave and form your own state where you can force everything to conform to your arcane views. and you can be their teacher.

voters won't repeal gay marriage through referendum. if somehow they do through the fraudulent actions of right-wing nuts who are notorious for lying, cheating and manipulating to forward their social agenda, we always have the Maryland Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. And as for the latter, Anthony Kennedy is a new, welcomed bedfellow.

One last thing -- has anyone realized that in the past five years or so, these right-wing Christian conservatives who preach family values (the same ones who are caught having clandestine relationships with boys, extramarital affairs with women, and have their hands deep in others' pockets) wanted "activist" judges to stop legislating from the bench. "Leave it up to the legislatures" they'd say. Well, here in Maryland we did what they wanted. But now they say it shouldn't be left up to the legislatures. Why? Because the legislatures aren't allowing themselves to be puppets for the religious zealots, especially here in Maryland!

@CL22, I’m going to stay out of your marriage debate because it’s a done deal. There will be referendum next year and if the lobbyists haven’t destroyed themselves from within then the referendum will fail.

No sweetie, that’s not my beef with you. It seems you think that people from your generation are somehow more capable of keyboard skills than my generation. That’s nonsense.

We learned how to use the keyboard using both hands and without looking down. Moreover we were usually copying from Gregg shorthand or transcribing from a Dictaphone recording at a minimum required rate of fifty words per minute. In addition to that we were well turned out, every hair in place, and freshly manicured. The grammar and spell checkers were installed between our ears by a twelve year education that left us with more knowledge than your generation can achieve with a Masters Degree. We rarely made mistakes because it required that every layer of paper between the carbon sheets be manually fixed.

Eventually we fell in love and got married and dedicated our lives to raising your generation; a generation that is too lazy to even spell out “by the way.”

If ya’ll had bothered to pay attention in class during Black History Month instead of texting and sexting your friends you would have learned how to run a civil rights movement. You would have passed this bill ten years ago. So before you start insulting your elders about their keyboard skills take a good look at the generation that earned through teargas and billy clubs and even bullets the right for you to live in a state where you can redress your grievances through participatory democracy.

Get over yourself.

Those of you crowing about the inevitability of marriage equality being defeated in a referendum might want to hold off a bit. All recent polling suggests that a majority of Marylanders support same-sex civil marriage, and if Senator Brochin's experience says anything, it is that fair-minded people, even Republicans (who theoretically favor less -- not more -- government intrusion in our private lives) will see the opposition as being driven by hate and ignorance. Besides, why should the civil rights of a minority be put to a vote? Had school desegregation been put to referendum in Maryland in 1954, how might that vote have gone?

Religious objections (pillars of salt and lakes of fire notwithstanding) are entirely irrelevant to this discussion. We're talking CIVIL marriage here. Your churches will not be required to sanctify same-sex marriages, your preachers will be free to rant and froth at will, and you will still be able to disapprove of love you can't understand (and therefore hate).

The Religious interest in marriage is called a "sacrament". The government's interest in marriage is called a "civil contract". Same sex couples are not asking for the sacrament, so the Religions should keep their noses out of civil contracts. "Render unto Caesar........"

Peter:

You said ... "Remember God destroyed two cities because of this. God does not like this and we will pay if this law goes into effect." Sorry, you need to read your Bible. The Bible says God destroyed Sodom because of pride, excess food, prosperous ease and did not aid the poor and needy. See Ezekiel 16:49. Maybe we need to worry more about the Tea Party cuts than we do same-gendered marriage.

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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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