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March 9, 2011

Same-sex marriage moves toward final vote

A proposal to allow same-sex couples to marry survived amendment attempts today and is scheduled to be up for final passage Friday in the House of Delegates.

Delegates may continue to try to amend the bill then, but supporters fended off four changes in a morning debate session.

The closest vote came just before the debate ended. Del. Aisha Braveboy, a Prince George's County Democrat who does not support gay marriage, suggested taking the issue directly to voters. A preliminary tally showed that amendment failed by a vote of 63 to 72, but gay marriage opponents said they are likely to try for a similar amendment on Friday.

Because the House is voting on a Senate plan, delegates are allowed to amend the bill when it is up for final passage -- something they cannot do on House bills.

The tone of the 90-minute debate was mostly mild-mannered. Same-sex marriage supporters argued that the amendments were off-point.

The first try would have afforded church groups and others who provide adoption services and foster care protection if they do not condone same-sex marriage.

Bill supporters successfully argued that current laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation already clearly spell out what such groups may and may not do.

That amendment failed on by 58 to 79, a preliminary tally shows.

Delegates also tried to amend the bill to allow parents and teachers who do not support homosexuality to opt out of any curriculum on the topic. Bill supporters said that, too, is covered by current laws and regulations.

Next, Del. Andrew Serafini, a Washington County Republican, asked to change the title of the bill from Civil Marriage Protection Act to Same-Sex Marriage Act, saying it was a more genuine description of what the bill does. That, too, failed.

Delegates said they anticipate more hours of debate and amendment tries on Friday. It's unclear whether the legislation has enough votes to pass. If it does, Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to sign it into law.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:30 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage


I'm confused. Maryland was founded on the basis of religious freedom, yet religious groups, particularly minority religious groups, no less, are trying to end that premise.

Also, why are people from PA, VA, DE, etc. in OUR state, testifying before OUR legislature, protesting in front of OUR State House?!? PA residents have nothing to do with gay marriage in Maryland. They don't vote here. They don't pay taxes here. What gives them the right to influence our state's legislators?

My last point is about Del. TIffany Alston. She changed her mind and voted against gay marriage because she was heavily influenced by her constituents and their black pastors, many of whom exemplify the same qualities white supremacists displayed fifty years ago. Del. Alston, while clearly in favor of equal marriage rights, voted against the bill "for my (sic) constituents." What a pathetic lawmaker. Politicians, ideally, are to lead by example. How is turning one's back on one's own principles leading by example? It's appeasing people so when it comes time for reelection, it happens. What I don't get is that do these people, like Alston and the black Christian pastors from PG County, not realize that they are doing the same thing white supremacists did a while back? If white supremacists had their way, there would be no black churches, and Del. Alston wouldn't be allowed to be a delegate, let alone run for a public office. Now gays and lesbians are at the mercy of the same people who were subjects of similar laws of the pre-Civil Rights era. Unfortunately, they haven't yet realized that.

Dear Del. Braveboy-

One of the many purposes of the Constitution is to ensure that the government protect the minority from the abuses of the majority. To put the right to marry to a vote would be akin to asking 19th century slave owners to vote on whether they should be able to own slaves. It would be like asking men of the 1920s to vote on whether or not women should be allowed to vote. It is similar to telling the people of the South that they could vote on segregation in the 60s. NO ONE should have the right to vote on another HUMAN BEINGS civil liberties. We elect people such as yourself to be leaders, to lead all of us. You are failing miserably in this role. Do what is right, not what you think God wants, or what you think may be icky. Look to your own ancestry, no one who has ever championed the side of bigotry or a denial of human rights has ever been looked upon fondly in the annals of history.

Brandon Robert Mead, Esq.


First, I could not agree with you more about the issue of religious freedom. Many Maryland founding families settled here in order to be able to practice their Catholic faith openly without fear or laws that would keep them from their faith. How quickly we/they forget. Or, and perhaps more to the point, how quickly they PICK AND CHOOSE what is important in this arena. On one hand, they scream, "Don't tell me how I can practice my faith! Keep the government out of my church! Don't force us to pay taxes as a faith!" On the convenient other hand, they use their faith to dictate law to others of faith different than their own. This is the height of hypocrisy!

As for Delegate Alston, she now conveniently hides behind both the "Faith card" and the even more lame excuse that she is voting the way her constituents want her to vote. Both excuses lack any courage. Imagine if any number of courageous lawmakers in the 1960's voted strictly based on the will of each constituent. Many who literally took their lives in their hands to vote for the Civil Rights Amendment and the Voting Rights Act did so because it was the right thing to do, and even though the majority of constituents would have voted against the laws. There are times in the legislative process where lawmakers need to do the right thing, not the thing that will insure their re-election. The courageous among them vote their conscience. The yellow-bellied hide behind their constituents and do what serves them best!

As a 53 year old gay man, I was shocked to learn years ago, just how much gays are hated in the black church pulpits of this country. This goes back a long time and, in recent years, the level of hate-speech dressed in clerical garb has only increased. It is hard enough growing up gay in America. I cannot imagine being both gay and Black.

God help the lilly-livered Democrats who vote against this legislation.


I challenge Del. Braveboy and all others who are considering voting against this legislation to look at their own families and their family trees. Someone they love is or was gay. Every family has 1 or more gay people in their family. Look them in the ye and tell them you believe they are not allowed to love anyone they choose to love.

Del. some bravery!

Well said Mr. Mead. Thank you for your comment!

I wonder how Del. Aisha Braveboy would feel about the voters of Maryland deciding whether she should have the right to be married to a white man.

So, can we be comfortable that the 72 (minimum) voting block, striking down these amendments, will support the bill on Friday? By my math, that is enough.

a bill for something like this should never have been considered. this is a personal choice for a relationship that does not compare to minority civil right issues.

Time to end second-class citizenship in this great state!

People choose to be gay just as much as I choose to be straight. It is, and always has been something innate that you know at birth. There are COUNTLESS studies by unbiased groups that prove this. More to the point, with all the hatred pointed towards them, why would anyone choose to be gay? That would be like a white person deciding too be black in the 60s, no one wants to endure such hatred spewed at them. And certainly, no human being deserves such vial comments directed toward them solely on who or how they love.

I don't think we can afford to be comfortable, particularly since the wealthy haters of NOM have clawed their way into the issue. lets get this straight (no pun intended)...our legislature would not pass a slots bill on moral and some religious grounds, but had to put it to referendum. However, gay marriage which many of the voters object to on moral and religious grounds would get no such vote??? What a forked tounged bunch we elect!!!

even if the bill is passed there will always be a host of issues same sex partners will have to face. i'm wondering what churches will all same sex marriages? things will really get interesting if it were to pass.
gay marriages- what they are saying is i want to do things the straight way but i don't want to be straight.

Will Sotaski,

Slots are not a civil right. Marriage is. Civil rights should not be put to a majority vote.

Can't wait for the bill to get to the voters for refendum in 2012 so we can have the final say. And believe me, i am cautiously optimistic that the voters will vote against gay marriage. I guess the polygamist and incest ppl are looking at what is going on in this crazy liberal state. The constieunts will get there say and then the gay marriage bill will get overturned! God be the glory!

The straight way? What are you saying?
That religion is "doing things the straight way, but I don't want to be straight?" Believe it or not, lizze...people can believe in God and love a person of their own gender at the same time. Rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time? Can you do it? I thought so.

I don't understand how and why a man would fall in love with another man of the same sex, or a woman in love with another woman of the same sex. That is gross and unmoral! What in the heck is wrong with these liberal crazy fools in this state! Their constieunts overwhelmingly are against gay marriage! The lawmakers here are doing a disservice for trying to enact same sex marriages. Sodom and gomorrah all over again in md! I too can't wait for the bill to get to referendum and then the voters will vote against this sick gay marriage bill!

Anonymous - It is scary how quickly you move from same sex marriage to polygamy and incest since they are very different things. I can't imagine that God would see the glory in your bigotry. I am a gay man, and through many years of prayer I have come to learn that God loves me and created me to be just as I am.

Actually the most recent polls done of the state show that the MAJORITY of MD residents support same sex marriage. Maybe you should get your facts straight. PS. No one likes a homophobe.

>a bill for something like this should never have been considered. this is a personal choice for a relationship that does not compare to minority civil right issues.

Even if you don't believe the best science we have and think this is a personal choice, it doesn't matter. Religious affiliation and veteran status are choices, and they are protected under civil rights laws.

The basic idea is "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," unless we're hurting someone. And our opponents have no evidence of any harm being done anywhere. It's a baseless fear.

As for referendums, the days are coming to an end when our opponents can count on a win by popular vote. As soon as the "greatest generation" passes, we'll have the numbers, and we'll begin winning these votes. We may not win Maryland in a few years, but we'll be winning them soon. Time is on our side.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act is just about protecting families. With or without this legislation some people will fall in love with members of their own sex. With or without this legislation same-sex couples will form families. The only question is whether these families will be discriminated against by the State.

Children who have same-sex parents suffer discrimination in access to insurance, in visiting hospitalized parents and even in being allowed to grow up with their other parent if their biological parent dies. These children cannot wait until we overcome our hatred, our self-righteousness and our cowardice. They need the legal recognition of their families today.

As forces outside Maryland such as the National Organization for Marriage try to convince us that we gay and lesbian Marylanders are an abomination, we suffer the indignity of discrimination and condemnation. Why?

As religions tell us and as congregants blindly follow the edict that it’s acceptable, even required to refuse us the freedom to love for our spouses, we suffer the indignity of the lack of recognition of our strong, loving relationships. Why?

As some say marriage is only for procreation, rights of married heterosexual couples who are infertile, aged, or have no desire for children are recognized and protected while gay and lesbian families raising children are denied basic marriage protections for their children’s well-being. Why?

As others proclaim that God did not create marriage for “those disgusting ('people'...I've heard unprintable words here before),” we gay and lesbian citizens and our families suffer the loss of important protections such as permission to visit our hospitalized spouses, protection from over-taxation of salaries and inheritance, pension rights, family health coverage, and parenting rights. Why?

I question a religion whose God would allow followers to inflict animus toward gay and lesbian citizens. I must ask why God Himself doesn’t speak directly to us on His thoughts on this issue. It’s awfully co-dependent of Him to depend on a select powerful religious few to express His desires, especially when human animus skews His message as it so sadly does.

Our government is obligated to protect all citizens with full rights and responsibilities, including in family matters. There are thousands of families in Maryland – including my own - who are headed by responsible, law-abiding citizens who cannot enjoy the basic rights of marriage. These outside forces and misguided religions trying to convince us that these families instead deserve condemnation and penalty harm all of Maryland.

It's time to grant this basic civil right of marriage to all citizens of Maryland.

I am a gay man. I do not wish to marry my partner of 20 years. I have found my loop-holes in this - I lost a well paying job to downsizing taking a 55% cut in pay. He is now collecting SSI every month. If we marry, he looses it. Not only that, our property taxes are ZERO because the house is in his name ONLY. If we marry, we loose that credit. I don't have to pay for his outrageous medical bills and drugs-the state takes care of that. I won't be taxed thru my employer for his benefits, but I can have him as a beneficiary. So where is the incentive to marry? For me, there is none - only loosing alot of $$ that I/We don't have anymore in this horrible economy. If you want to marry, that's fine but for me, never-I've got much more to loose.


you're right. as soon as those old folks pass on to their "heavenly home," we will have the numbers to do the right thing. everything that "greatest generation" has done -- all the debt they're passing on to us, the wars they've gotten us into, the "values" they try to impose on us but don't abide by themselves -- all gone. you can't vote on a referendum when you're buried six feet under.

I disagree with Mr. Muldowni and believe Delegate Alston is a brave woman for voting based on what her constituents want rather than she she personally wants. These people are supposed to be representing WE THE PEOPLE. We put them into office. If the majority of people here oppose same sex marriage, just like the majority of us oppose giving in-state tuition to ILLEAGAL ALIENS, these things should not be passed. Do some of you liberals really believe in democracy?


You backwards thinking piece of s***, pull your head out of your a** and realize that we won't have any more issues than we already have to deal with!

You do realize you very intelligent person that currently many straight people get married with no church willing to recognize or perform the marriage?

So I dont give a s*** what churches will or wont allow me to get married!

Go shove it you have the intellectual capability of things I flush down my toilet.

Satan will win in Maryland. He doesnt care if the state Democrats push sexuality that God doesnt want. In fact he wants them to.

Oh Clay, your voodoo "God" is not my God. Mine is a loving God who cares more about the fact that people love each other, treat each other with respect and kindness. Your voodoo "God" is all about the hate obsessed with sex. My God cares about the act of love that binds one partner to the other.

Enjoy your voodoo "God."

My God has already promised my Gay self a place in his Heaven along with my Gay husband of 29 years.

What happens if gay marriage passes the House, MOM signs it, it goes to referendum, and FAILS? What happens then? What happens when the people of Maryland show up en masse at the polls to support equal rights for all and vote against repealing the same-sex marriage law? What will NOM, the Catholic Church, etc. do then? Will they say it was a fraud? A sham? Will the ask for their money back? Surely you'll find some way to explain away their defeat. What will they do when the people of our "liberal" state shut them down? I doubt they'll walk away humbly with their tails between their legs.

I'd like to note that when Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court handed down a decision stating that gays can marry, the religious right, conservatives and other wing nuts threw a fit, saying that "unelected judges," activist judges, no less, are "legislating from the bench." These bigots said that unelected judges have no right telling the people what to do. They said that decisions like that should be up to the Commonwealth's (and later other state's) legislatures. Well, a few years thereafter, the legislatures of several states passed same-sex marriage/civil unions. THE ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE PASSED IT! And that's what is happening in Maryland. However, the bigots never imagined that members of state legislatures would have the courage to defy them and pass legislation allowing gay marriage, but they did. And now they're saying it's not up to the legislatures; it's up to the "people." What happens when the people give consent, through referendum, to the legislature allowing gay marriage? What will they say then? Surely they'll have a new argument, and I can't wait to hear it. It'll surely be entertaining!

Anti-discrimination laws are meant to prohibit discrimination. John Donoghue and his Catholic ilk don't get to say who gets to be exempt from the laws that prohibit discrimination. What is the purpose of anti-discrimination legislation if there are groups who are "exempt?" If those groups, like the Catholic Church, don't like it, they can close up shop and move elsewhere. Do these Catholic folk, just like black folks, not realize that they were the object of massive hate and discrimination in the past? Blacks were too. I guess both groups are using this opportunity to prove that "turnabout is fair play," and they, too, should have a to hate a minority group. I would've thought that with all the gay priests and the excessive cases of child sexual abuse, the Church and its supporters like Delegate Donoghue (who is a disgrace to the Democratic Party) would have other, more important things to concern itself with. After all, the Church is in the process of going bankrupt because of the financial atonement they're being forced to deal with.

It would be interesting to take a poll and ask everyone who has posted on here their age. I'm sure the average age of those opposed to gay marriage is much, much older than those in favor of gay marriage.

Lastly, no one has yet to answer this question: WHY do people from PA, VA, etc. feel they have the right to come to our state and demand that OUR elected state delegates vote the way they want them to vote? How would they feel if I came to their state and stood on the street and screamed at their legislators and demanded their legislators vote the way I want them to vote? Are they so narrow-minded that they think that a law passed in Maryland will someone become the law of their states (which after the 2009 and 2010 elections have returned to the Dark Ages with the election of wing nuts)? If a bunch of gays from Maryland showed up at their state's capitol to protest their laws, they'd be irate.

I wish God would give you and your gay spouse a place in Heaven too.... but the Scriptures seem to cast doubt on that idea.

You can accuse me of worshipping a book, but it is more effective for a god to write a book than it is for people to say they have had experiences in god. The book offers no escape from a legal standpoint for male homosexuals, unless on a technicality, anal sodomy is avoided. I am aware there are other ways.......

The Bible oddly enough is more sympathetic to lesbians, just calling them unnatural instead of an abomination. Maybe vaginal lubrication is relatively clean? Many Levitical rules made sense from a public health standpoint (don't eat pig = trichinosis)

Be careful. Satan can appear as an angel of light, a God. That is why we call him Lucifer (the bringer of light).

the Vodou Christian

Cut the Catholics a break. I was molested too and I have no vendetta against the Mormons.

Chris, I think it is fantastic that you're a Bible fanatic, and apparently a closeted Biblical scholar. I applaud your tenacity in pursuing a degree in theology, which I am certain was bestowed upon you by the God itself. Your tests, quizzes and papers, in addition to other forms of assessment, that you passed with flying rainbow colors were, undoubtedly, administered by God during your evening chats with him whilst you were in the middle of praying for the souls of all us bad gays and praying that that mythological creature "Satan" will not disguise himself to us too well -- at least not well enough that we can't figure out it's really him (I think Satan's evil twin sister is Don Dwyer, face of the opposition extraordinaire, or maybe that's another one of your good ole pal Satan's?).

With that said, I still love you, my brother-in-Christ. I respect your devotion to Christianity, but I don't respect your burning desire to impose those outlandish beliefs and customs on the rest of society. What gives you the right to speak on God's behalf? It doesn't matter what your learned in Bible Study 101 at the local Baptist church. Were you there when the Bible was written? Short of having delusional chats with God/Jesus, how do you know what the true, intended meaning of the Bible is? It's just like that nut Antonin Scalia who, while sitting on his perch, calls himself an originalist (selective originalist, just as many are selective Biblical scholars) which is to say he believes the Constitution means what it says and he believes he is the authoritative source of that interpretation. Don't you think it's a bit arrogant to think that you, Chris, are so fantastic and revered a person that God chats with you and tells you personally what he meant when he was writing the Bible, all the while keeping silent on the issue or giving contradicting information when chatting with us bad gays? Interestingly, God wrote the Bible a few thousand years ago, but the world and humanity has been around for millions. I'm sure that during your years of scholarly devotion, you've found a brilliant answer for that, right? But that's for another day.

I take comfort, Chris, in knowing that if my gay spouse, or the spouse of my gay brother, will be in heaven, I will be too. But if he's going to hell -- well, Chris, I reckon I'm going there too. But at least you and I will see each other there because the alleged "sin" of my being gay almost certainly pales in comparison to the sins you have likely committed.

P.S. My apologies for your horrific experience with the priests of your Church. Given your experience, I would think you'd be the last person to be a surrogate for the Catholic Church.

I didn't say I opposed your legal cause. I hope it prevails tomorrow. Thank God we live in a country detached from religious domination.

It will give you a few years or decades of earthly happiness, though it is eternally of no consequence. Someone asked Jesus hypothetically if a woman married seven brothers one after each one died, which one would she be married to in Heaven? Jesus said, none of the above, there is no marriage in Heaven. I hope I understand earthly matters like love, sex, and marriage before I die.... The Muslims get 72 virgins.

I wrote in another comment thread that some of the people burned by Christians were Christians themselves seeking only to read the Bible according to their own conscience. Indeed, theocracies are dangerous. I would waste no time getting out of here if America became one.

No I am not seminary educated. But I can read the Bible at face value. I can look at a five dollar bill and know how much it is worth. There are only two things to do with the Bible

1. accept it/God at face value
2. reject it/God at face value

rewriting it will provoke the passion of a lot of Christians who will defend it and the religion.

We are very concerned about faux Christianity, just as much about the hatemongers as the sexmongers. It makes our PR efforts harder when Jesus is coming back very soon to try to get more people on board to meet Him.
We wish we could make a distinction in people's minds between what is genuine and what is not.

PPS I am not a Mormon but I knew Mormons in the neighborhood. Today I am a Christian more of a Baptist or Methodist flavor.

Christianity is not the perfect religion because it makes no provision for gay monogamy.

But the Christian God seems to exist and move in human lives.

Rather than to simply fight His enemy Satan, He makes provision to save/protect/send to Heaven human beings caught in the middle if they will surrender. It sounds to me like the great lengths to save Iraqi POWs in Desert Shield/Storm (or at least the propaganda).

What do you do?

1. Discount a merciful God for one shortcoming?
2. Create your own god that you know for a fact is imaginary?

I wondered why women married racist guys. Maybe they have good jobs, good with the kids, good husbands, etc. Again, do you overlook an almost perfect man for something that is objectionable?

I really don't know what the Creator's problem with homosexuality is.

I don't believe that every single homosexual person is evil.

The closest guess I have thought of is maybe God wants to deliberately overpopulate the earth. Just a GUESS, an opinion, based on

1. "Be fruitful, and multiply"
2. Onan pulled out and was struck dead: Catholics won't use birth control for this reason
3. Paul: "Women should be saved in childbearing"
4. The obvious prohibition against spending your sexual energy with the same gender in ways that cannot create a baby
5. Catholics: also believe not to masturbate (when you could be married instead)
6. The whole idea is to get married if you need sex, and according to #2, that makes kids
7. I Cor 7:8-9 Don't deny your spouse if he/she needs it

So you have kids being born.... and it is a struggle to overcome pestilence and famine and war, but with improved sanitation and agricultural output and medicine you do have increasing population, and....

Oil helps create large agricultural surpluses... until oil output declines (peak oil). Then you have wars over oil, and then food and water, maybe conventional wars, maybe nuclear. Hungry kids motivate adults to fight. Later, hungry people are susceptible to illness, if they live that long. Fields go unplowed (War, pestilence, famine, death)

Bring back Jesus at some point before it is "too late"

My partner and I were married by a rabbi in a mainstream Temple, before God and our families. It was wonderful.

You're free not to believe in God the way I do, of course. That's about faith, though, and I think we have to respectfully acknowledge that we may never agree, nor do we have to.

Now we are looking to protect our most important relationship legally, so that we are not legal strangers to one another.

We've already made multiple trips to a very expensive lawyer to try to protect that relationship, but even the lawyer acknowledges the difficulty of doing so without a marriage certificate.

The lawyer has had to think ahead to all manner of possible situations just to try to make sure they are covered--they would have been automatically by a single marriage certificate.

And here, the law has to be equitable. You get to protect your most important relationship. I want to protect mine. I don't see why you object to that.

So please consider: this isn't about "destroying" anything. This isn't about weird or dangerous or unhealthful "lifestyles". It's about people's lives.

We're already married in the eyes of God and the congregants who saw us marry in a religious ceremony.

Now we seek to protect our relationship legally-- something that most opponents apparently think is important for them to be able to do, but somehow, unimportant for us.

I would never vote on your marriage. Why would you ever want to vote on someone else's marriage? Seems like taking on an awful lot of responsibility for another couple's life.

And, frankly, pretty mean-spirited.

We can agree to disagree on the mind of God re homosexuality, though I don't totally understand why He does.

If the mind of God is reflected in the Bible, I have the Bible on my (His) side, however.

The Christian religion is no more my personal property to twist and turn than the state law is your opponents' to mold like putty in their hands. Christianity is what it is. The State of Maryland can be better.

But legally speaking, I hope mean spiritedness is defeated tomorrow. I never liked it, before or after becoming Christian.


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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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