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March 10, 2011

Undecided delegate offers 'friendly' same-sex marriage amendment

On the eve of final deliberations about whether to legalize same-sex marriage, a Baltimore County Democrat still weighing whether to vote for the plan has offered an amendment that he said would further protect religious groups.

Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. said today that he believes his amendment makes the bill stronger. The House Judiciary Committee this afternoon debated whether to embrace Olszewski's amendment as "friendly," even as Republican committee members cried foul. 

The amendment strikes language in the bill that spells out what religious programs -- including counseling and summer camp -- are shielded from having to provide services to same-sex couples. By taking out those specifications, Olszewski believes, the overall religious protections would be stronger. (See page 5, lines 9 and 10, the words "through" to "retreat.")

The committee delayed making a decision until tomorrow morning -- 10 minutes before the marriage bill is scheduled to be presented on the House floor for a final vote. The 141-member House appears nearly evenly split on approval of the overall bill, meaning every delegate's vote carries extra significance.

Asked whether he would support the marriage bill if his amendment is accepted, Olszewski said, "I can't say that at this point."   

"I'm just trying to find a balance between equal rights for all citizens and protections for religion," he said.

The Senate, which last month approved same-sex marriage by a 25-21 vote, had signaled to the lower chamber that it did not want any amendments attached to the bill.

But reached this evening, Sen. Jamie Raskin, the Montgomery County Democrat who led the Senate floor debate, said he believes the upper chamber "could play ball" if Olszewski's amendment "forwards the two values of the bill -- equal rights for all Maryland citizens and absolute religious freedom."

Del. Kathleen Dumais, the House floor leader for the bill, said in committee that she considers Olszewski's amendment "friendly."

Eastern Shore Republican Del. Michael D. Smigiel said committee members should be clear about what's happening with Olszewski: "A deal has been made that I'll give you my vote for this amendment."

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 4:56 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage
        

Comments

It's time MD.
Cheers, Joe Mustich,
CT Justice of the Peace, USA.

It's NOT time when half the state doesn't want it. The voters will strike it down in a referendum, and Maryland will end up in the same situation California is in. Why do judges and politicians think they can override the will of the people?
Same-sex marriage will have its time eventually, but not before the people have accepted it more than they currently do.

This shouldn't even be an issue!! You must Repent!!

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.

One should never be forced into obtaining an exemption to do what is right.

Exemptions should be reserved for those who are seeking to violate the natural law principles that have always supported marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
In the International Journal of Human Rights 14.7 (2010), Jakob Cornides, enunciates the incompatibilities that prevent 'same-sex marriage' from serious consideration as an issue of 'equality'.

Responding to the ubiquitous claim that a homosexual couple deserve 'marriage equality' because "they love one another", Cornides has pointed out that "the institution of 'marriage' does not have the purpose of 'rewarding' people for loving each other; for this reason, the argument that homosexually oriented people, too, are capable of 'loving'...is of no relevance."
Cornides can find no legitimacy in human rights law for changing the meaning of ‘marriage’.

"...if 'family' is no more to be defined by descent or marriage between persons of the opposite sex, by which other criteria shall it then be defined? Created as a pre-requisite for same-sex 'marriage', the adoption of children by same-sex couples, etc., this new concept turns 'family' into something of an artificial construct, removed from biological reality: the arbitrary invention of a legislator, which at any time could be replaced through another arbitrary invention of another legislator as mores once again change. If this is accepted, a legislator's imagination is limitless: every constellation of two or more persons could be styled a 'marriage' or 'family', and the traditional meaning of both terms would be undermined or even disappear altogether. Labeling all and sundry as 'marriage' and 'family' could be an efficient way of destroying the traditional and logical meaning – perhaps more efficient than abolishing it directly'."

Honestly...why do straight people care if same sex couples get married? How does this impact you at all? IT DOESN'T! Your life will NOT change! You marriage will not be affected! The only thing destroying marriage in this country right now are all the straight couples getting divorced! 1 in 2 marriages will end that way and that has nothing to do with anything gay couples are doing! If anything maybe we (gay people) can help save marriage because we might just value meaning behind it more!

Oh, Mr. Mustich, some of us who grew up in the South remember that African Americans couldn't have equality because people "Weren't ready for it yet." The time for marriage equality is now.

How can you say what maryland doesn't want..its the old elderly and bitter people that pretty much votes. What about young adults..most of us don't oppose to same sex marriage just uneducated people. Im for ssm and im african american. Black churches are afraid that more black lgbt youth will come out and they will no longer be able to control them by promoting the fear of going to hell in them

@WhySoSerious

I'm pretty sure the bill isn't going to force you to get married. You're free to marry if and when you choose.

Conversely, without the bill, other couples in similar situations are unable to make that same choice.

Since when do the politicians listen to what the people say? I am against same sex marriage, but not gays. I have a relative or two that is gay and have nothing against them and many friends that are gay and our beliefs are simple. You live your life and I will live mine. The only thing is that I am set on is I do not believe in a man getting married to a man or woman to woman, simply because of the "meaning of marriage" Maybe I am missing the point, but if it happens, it happens. Personally I feel that one does not have to marry one just to prove their love for that person. No piece of paper is suppose to change the way you feel towards that person. As far as the politicians go, well they are in a league of their own, none that I would want to be associated with. I have yet to meet a politician that could not say three sentences without lying in two of them.

I think all people should have the same rights (.)

@justme1
...Really? It seems to me that you're following this guy's word without actually thinking about what he's implying. First of all, marriage isn't about "rewarding people for love," but about the choice of a couple to settle down and start a family (with or without children). It is also a legal institution that allows the participants certain privileges based on their status as "married." It is most certainly an issue of equality that same-sex couples cannot make this choice or receive the benefits that heterosexual couples can under current legislation.
Also, his arguments about "removing the family from biological reality" are complete idiocy and closed-mindedness. Think about it; he even states clearly that marriage is currently defined by descent. Gay people are not the only couples that choose to adopt. Are all families who choose to adopt mere "artificial constructs" because they are not defined by biological descent? Really, please think before you post with such conviction.

But.. but... how will there still be procreation if there's gay marriage? Won't this just discourage young adults from having sex?

TheMagicalPheasant: There will still be procreation with gay marriage. Gay marriage won't promote straight people to "turn" gay. The only difference is that gay people will get the same rights and benefits as all heterosexual couples do. Shouldn't we all get the same rights no matter the color of our skin, the gender we are, etc. or the people we fall in love with?

@ anonymous. we live in a constitutional republic that is SPECIFICALLY designed to protect the rights of the minority from MOB RULE of the majority. In short, the people should NEVER get to vote on someone else's rights. They are protected by the constitution and cannot be voted away.

As for whether or not gays should have the right to marry... well, I pay taxes just like everyone else in this country and I am a citizen thereof. Therefore, I GET EQUAL RIGHTS. PERIOD!!!

For all you that have moral objections based on the Bible. Understand, the Constitution is the law of the land in the US, NOT the Bible. If you want a theocracy, move to Iran, or the Vatican, thanks

"I am against same sex marriage, but not gays."

I bet your supposed "many friends that are gay" would have something to say about that. Let's try this thought experiment:

"I am against interracial marriage, but not black people."

"I am against marriages not performed in a church, but not atheists."

All this won't matter in a couple short years, after the bill passes and Maryland voters uphold it in a referendum. Too bad that in the meantime we will have to fight millions of dollars in out-of-state National Organization for Marriage cash and the vicious, bigoted lies they peddle to make it happen.

US Governments, State and Federal, having ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are obliged to protect marriage and children.
The UN Human Rights Committee:"Article 23, paragraph 2, of the Covenant is the only substantive provision in the Covenant which defines a right by using the term 'men and women', rather than 'every human being', 'everyone' and 'all persons'. Use of the term 'men and women'...has been consistently and uniformly understood as indicating that the treaty obligation of States parties stemming from article 23, paragraph 2, of the Covenant is to recognize as marriage only the union between a man and a woman wishing to marry each other."

"The right to marry and found a family 'implies, in principle, the possibility to procreate'."

There is no compulsion to procreate but rather a more exacting requirement for the two rights holders of the right to marry to have 'in principle, the possibility to procreate' through their marriage.

This requirement rules out definitively any genuine right of two persons of the same sex to marry.

Regrettably, clever propaganda programs have produced opinion polls favouring 'same-sex marriage'. But propaganda, however successful, is no basis for changing marriage laws that protect social coherence through responsible procreation, and ensure 'as far as possible, a child’s right to know and be cared for by his or her parents' (i.e. by both parents--not just the maternal parent and her lesbian partner, or the paternal parent and his homosexual partner).

I hope the Maryland Legislature votes down the SSM bill. Marriage should remain as being between one man and one woman.

This bill PROTECTS the institution of the FAMILY. Open your eyes and your hearts. Don't let bigots hide behind the robes of religion. Love and commitment should be legal!! Couples should be able to legally protect their partners and their children. How can one be opposed to the legalization of a basic civil and human right??? How can one citizen feel so empowered that they feel they have the right to deny another the same legal right that s/he enjoys? Marriage equality means simply that gay and lesbian couples will be able to love and protect each other and their children in the same way that heterosexual couples are able to do at this time. If the love of your life were to be hospitalized, would you not expect, and fight, to be able to be with them, attend to them, advocate for them? If your partner were to die, would you have to also fear that your child(ren) could be taken from you as well by the state or by another relative? If your child lives in a home with only one parent, or a grandparent, aunt, or uncle - should s/he suffer stigmatization? Do you feel so superior and holy that you are looking to tell children of homosexual couples that their families don't count in the eyes of the state? They don't count??? This bill allows religious organizations to continue to perform marriage only for heterosexual couples if that is what they choose. They are free to ignore and exclude gay couples from their ceremonies. I thought that we lived in a country of freedom and equality for all. Do not deny my friends and their children the legal equality that I enjoy just because I happen to love someone of the opposite sex.

There's almost a 50% divorce rate in this country. Why aren't these people who supposedly care so much about marriage and children trying to do something to stop divorce and broken homes? If they really care about protecting marriage and children!

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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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