December 7, 2011

SRB cuts latest video for same-sex marriage campaign

A day after celebrating the inauguration for her first full term as mayor, Baltimore's Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is being featured in a new video supporting same-sex marriage. We got a sneak peak at it.

In the 51 second video, Baltimore's mayor says "Just as a straight couples' commitment to family is legally recognized, so too should a gay couples' commitment be recognized by our state government."

Baltimore's mayor appeared at a City Hall news conference over the summer where a group of progressive activists announced their new coalition to lobby for a change in the state's law. The advocates are trying to target black lawmakers in Baltimore and Prince George's County, some of whom have said they are uneasy with the idea of gay nuptials.

The measure passed in the state senate last spring, but fell short in the house of delegates.

The video will appear on the Marylanders' for Marriage Equality website.

Continue reading "SRB cuts latest video for same-sex marriage campaign" »

Posted by Annie Linskey at 11:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

October 26, 2011

Mo'Nique is latest MD celeb to support same-sex marriage

'Precious' star Mo'Nique is lending her name to Maryland's same-sex marriage campaign, and released an online video today in support of the legislation.

It is the latest in a series of videos featuring prominent people with ties to the state that are being promoted by Marylanders For Marriage Equality, a new coalition formed this year to support legalizing gay marriage. Gov. Martin O'Malley and Ravens linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo taped messages in recent weeks.

The effort mirrors a similar campaign employed in New York leading up to passage of same-sex marriage legislation there earlier this year.

In the video, Mo'Nique says: "Gay and lesbian couples believe in commitment, family and love. If you don’t believe me, did you happen to notice that all that’s being asked for is the right to be married, which ironically promotes commitment, family and love?"

Posted by Annie Linskey at 11:34 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

October 21, 2011

Ravens linebacker pushes for same-sex marriage

Ravens player Brendon Ayanbadejo is putting his considerable heft behind passing a gay marriage bill in Maryland and will star in a new video that will be released today pushing for the measure.

In the video Ayanbadejo looks directly into the camera and says: "I believe we should be doing everything that we can to make Maryland families stronger which is why I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples who want to make a life time commitment to each other."

"People from all walks of life including gay and lesbian couples want their children to be in stable homes and protected by the law. Join me and the majority of Marylanders who support marriage equality."

A new coalition, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, plans a state-wide media campaign to build support for the measure in advance of the January legislative session. The first video of what they said will be a series was released earlier this month and featured Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Opponents of the measure also have support from a NFL player. Shortly after Ayanbadejo initially supported the Maryland bill last spring, wide-receiver Derrick Mason (who is no longer a Raven), said in a radio interview that he believes marriage is should be between a man and a woman.

Continue reading "Ravens linebacker pushes for same-sex marriage" »

Posted by Annie Linskey at 11:00 AM | | Comments (45)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

October 3, 2011

O'Malley stars in same-sex marriage ad campaign

Starting today Gov. Martin O'Malley is appearing in a series videos aimed at selling his same-sex marriage legislation, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign said today.

The first video, which is online only, features the governor pitching his legislation and promising that it will “protect religious freedom." O'Malley said over the summer that he will make same-sex marriage one of a "handful" of priorities in next year's session.

"I ask you to join us as we work to pass marriage equality in the state of Maryland," O'Malley says. The video was produced by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, an alliance of progressive advocates pushing same-sex marriage in the state.

Notably, O'Malley does not once use the phrase "same-sex marriage" or "civil marriage" in the 47 second ad, terms were frequently used used during the debate last session. Instead he refers to his efforts as a push for "marriage equality."
Posted by Annie Linskey at 1:12 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

September 8, 2011

O'Malley raises money for same-sex marriage campaign

Gov. Martin O'Malley urged supporters of same-sex marriage to "call on the goodness" of their opponents as they try to gain more votes in the General Assembly and more allies throughout the state.

Speaking at an Equality Maryland fundraiser in Chevy Chase last night, the governor said that the issue should be viewed from the eyes of the children of same-sex couples. He said children across the state should grow up in households governed by the same sets of laws.

"It is through their eyes, the eyes of the children of gay and lesbian couples, that I have viewed this issue," O'Malley said. "This is all about the protection of families."

"Even people who do not yet agree with us on this issue, there is a lot of goodness in each and every individual and we need to engage in that goodness," O'Malley said. "We need to call people to that goodness."

The governor gave a far more impassioned plea for the bill during the fundraiser than he did two months ago at a Friday afternoon news conference when he announced that he would put his name on a same-sex marriage bill. This time several in the audience complimented his speech and he earned two rounds of applause when he finished.

* Photo credit: Governor's press office

Continue reading "O'Malley raises money for same-sex marriage campaign" »

Posted by Annie Linskey at 8:16 AM | | Comments (48)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

August 8, 2011

O'Brien urged O'Malley against backing gay marriage

In the days before Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his support for same-sex marriage, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien privately urged him against “promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith.”

“Preserving the central role of the natural family unit has always been — and should continue to be — the reason why our government recognizes marriage as existing between one man and one woman,” the archbishop wrote to the governor in a letter dated July 20.

Two days later, O’Malley said he would introduce legislation next year to allow gay couples to marry.

“As a free and diverse people of many faiths, we choose to be governed under the law by certain fundamental principles or beliefs, among them ‘equal protection of the law’ for every individual and the ‘free exercise’ of religion without government intervention,” O’Malley said. “Other states have found a way to protect both these rights. So should Maryland.”

A same-sex marriage bill cleared the state Senate this year, but it was pulled from the House floor after vote-counters determined they were a few delegates shy of a majority. With O’Malley’s active support, backers are hopeful of success next year.

O’Malley, who is Catholic, opposed same-sex marriage when he first ran for governor in 2006. He said at the time that he had been “raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

His announcement last month came weeks after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that made New York the sixth state to allow gay couples to marry — and enjoyed a boost in his national profile.

“I am well aware that the recent events in New York have intensified pressure on you to lend your active support to legislation to redefine marriage,” O’Brien wrote, in a letter released Monday by the governor’s office.

Continue reading "O'Brien urged O'Malley against backing gay marriage" »

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 8:46 PM | | Comments (54)

July 21, 2011

O'Malley announcement on gay marriage set for Friday

** Update: O'Malley will make his announcement on gay marriage Friday in Annapolis. **

Gov. Martin O'Malley said this morning that he will reveal his strategy on same-sex marriage at an event either tomorrow or Monday.

Activists have been working for months to persuade him to put his name on the controversial bill and include it in his legislative agenda. "I supported it last year," he said to colleague John Fritze. "I support it now."

The governor made his remarks in Washington, D.C. after addressing Democratic members of Congress at a closed door meeting.

O'Malley has told The Sun that he would have sponsored the bill this year if he thought it would be helpful for passage. The measure cleared the Senate this year, but was pulled from the House floor when it became clear that supporters were a few votes shy. The governor made phone calls to wavering members, but never made a full court push for the bill. 

Continue reading "O'Malley announcement on gay marriage set for Friday" »

Posted by Annie Linskey at 12:51 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

June 28, 2011

Gay marriage: A look at the N.Y. and Md. bills

Maryland gay-rights activists and supporters of same-sex marriage say they are studying the text of New York's new law as they gear up for another fight next year.

As reported in The Sun this morning, an ambitious Democratic governor, a multimillion-dollar outreach effort and the involvement of key Republicans were among the factors that led to New York's passage of a same-sex marriage bill, which was signed into law Saturday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Maryland's effort succeeded in the Senate, only to fall about three votes short of the House of Delegates, which shunted the bill into a committee rather than taking a roll-call on it.

New York's bill, like Maryland's, provided protections for religious organizations that do not condone gay marriage. Compare those two passages after the jump.

Continue reading "Gay marriage: A look at the N.Y. and Md. bills" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:28 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

March 11, 2011

Gay marriage debate over for the year

Debate on whether Maryland should legalize same-sex marriage has ended for the year, without the House of Delegates weighing in on the divisive issue.

Instead of voting as planned today, the House moved the bill backward -- returning it to the committee that nearly killed it last week. House Speaker Michael E. Busch said his chamber won't see the issue on the floor again this year, even though the Senate passed it last month by a vote of 25-21.

By moving the bill back into committee rather than taking a final vote, the 141 delegates avoided putting on record their position on gay marriage.

Had a vote been taken today, it would have come within a delegate or two of passage, House leaders said. Advocates believe they were a single vote shy.

"The vote would have been very close on the floor, make no mistake about it," said Busch, who supports same-sex marriage.

About 10 delegates did not feel comfortable casting a vote today, Busch said, and wanted more time to learn about what the bill would do.

The move back to committee came after more than two hours of impassioned speeches.

Continue reading "Gay marriage debate over for the year" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:55 PM | | Comments (257)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage set for final deliberations today

Afternoon update: Delegates are rising one after another to speak for and against legislation to legalize same-sex marriages. Two amendments have been offered and rejected.

Baltimore Del. Cheryl Glenn offered a compromise plan that would have changed the bill into civil unions. Like Del. John Olszewski's amendment, described below, it was rejected on a voice vote. House Speaker Michael E. Busch has not allowed roll call votes, which show precisely how many delegates support or oppose something.

Many delegates say the people want to weigh in. The discussion has lasted about 90 minutes so far. No clear sign as to how much longer it'll take -- or which way the House will decide.  

Morning update: The House has convened for debate on same-sex marriage. This morning, the House Judiciary Committee decided not to endorse a late amendment to the bill -- thought to have been designed to lure over at least one undecided delegate. That amendment and others may come up soon on the floor.

 The House of Delegates plans to vote today on whether to legalize same-sex marriage, a divisive issue that narrowly cleared the Senate and inspired thousands of Marylanders to register their feelings with their legislators.

Heading into the scheduled 11 a.m. debate, only one thing is clear: It'll be a close vote.

Supporters and opponents alike believe the 141-member House is nearly evenly divided. Del. Maggie McIntosh, the senior openly gay legislator, said this week that "a healthy handful" of delegates had yet to disclose their voting plans.

"History now rides on the hearts of several delegates," Sen. Jamie Raskin said Thursday night. The Montgomery County Democrat served as floor leader for the Senate debate. The bill, called the Civil Marriage Protection Act, passed that chamber last month on a 25-21 vote, and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Meanwhile, House Republicans -- whose caucus took a position against the bill -- have heralded the unexpected delays along the bill's road to passage as proof the votes are not there.

An amendment discussed Thursday shows that same-sex marriage supporters have been working overtime to win over each and every possible delegate.

Continue reading "Same-sex marriage set for final deliberations today" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:08 PM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

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."   

Continue reading "Undecided delegate offers 'friendly' same-sex marriage amendment" »

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

March 9, 2011

National anti-gay marriage group commits $1 million

The National Organization for Marriage today pledged at least $1 million to help defeat Republicans who favor same-sex marriage and assist the campaigns of Democrats who oppose it.

The announcement came as the Maryland House of Delegates today moved the legislation a step closer to a final vote. More debate is planned for Friday, and it is unclear whether the marriage bill has the 71 votes needed for passage.

"We know where the people of Maryland stand, and legislators need to listen to their constituents," said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "If they don't, we're here to help hold them accountable."

The national group says it will form a political action committee in Maryland with the aim of ousting Republicans who "abandon the party position," Brown said. Money also will flow to Democrats who vote against the same-sex marriage bill, he said.

Continue reading "National anti-gay marriage group commits $1 million" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 2:39 PM | | Comments (64)
Categories: Same-Sex Marriage

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.

Continue reading "Same-sex marriage moves toward final vote" »

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

March 8, 2011

House girds for same-sex marriage debate

On the day before the House of Delegates was expected to begin debate on same-sex marriage, lawmakers received a letter from six gay colleagues.

"Vote yes because you know it is the right thing to do," the delegates wrote this morning. "Vote yes because you want to stand on the right side of history. Vote yes because every family in Maryland needs the protections that marriage provides."

This afternoon, opponents of gay marriage from Pennsylvania played bagpipes outside the lawmakers’ offices, displayed a banner that read: "God’s Marriage = 1 man & 1 woman," and encouraged like-minded motorists to honk.

As they prepare to open debate tomorrow on legislation that would allow gay couples to marry, members of the divided House are facing pressure from all sides.

The Senate has already approved the plan. House passage would send the bill to the governor’s desk, where Democrat Martin O’Malley has promised to sign it.

Delegates have heard from hundreds of constituents, received a flood of e-mails from supporters and opponents and, in some cases, struggled internally with how to vote. Several of them — including co-sponsors — have changed their positions. Dozens remain publicly uncommitted.

"The vote is close, probably an even split," said Del. Maggie McIntosh, the most senior of the six openly gay delegates. "A healthy handful of people are still making up their minds."

Continue reading "House girds for same-sex marriage debate" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 5:27 PM | | Comments (52)
Categories: 2011 legislative session, Same-Sex Marriage

March 4, 2011

Same-sex marriage bill heading to Md. House floor

The House of Delegates is set to debate next week whether to legalize gay marriage, after a sharply divided committee voted Friday in favor of the plan.

The measure, which has already cleared the Senate, lost the support of a co-sponsor but was saved from defeat by the committee chairman — who has long opposed gay marriage.

Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. did not explain why he voted to advance the bill, but House aides said the Prince George’s County Democrat wanted to see it moved to the 141-member chamber for a full debate.

Delegates are bracing for a discussion that could start as soon as Tuesday and span several days. The bill would repeal the provision in Maryland law that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman, which would allow the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

The 12-10 vote by the House Judiciary Committee came at the end of a week of fits and starts — and high drama, as several of the original 59 co-sponsors indicated they were having second thoughts.

The committee was to vote Tuesday, but two co-sponsors went missing. Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat who supports same-sex marriage, said she withheld her vote that day to focus attention on city education funding and her own family law bill.

Del. Tiffany T. Alston said she needed more time to think. The Prince George’s County Democrat said she was weighing her personal belief in the right of gay couples to marry against the opposition of her church and the people she represents.

On Friday, she voted against the bill, saying, "For my constituents, no."

Before the final vote, Alston attempted to amend the bill to establish civil unions instead of same-sex marriage. The effort drew praise from Republicans on the committee, but criticism from her fellow Democrats. It failed by a single vote, one of five amendments to be batted down.

Continue reading "Same-sex marriage bill heading to Md. House floor" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 5:14 PM | | Comments (54)
Categories: 2011 legislative session, Same-Sex Marriage

House committee passes same-sex marriage bill

The House Judiciary Committee has voted 12-10 to pass the same-sex marriage bill, sending it to the full House of Delegates. The 141-member chamber is expected take up debate as early as next week.

Del. Tiffany Alston, who had signed on to the bill as a sponsor but wavered and walked out on a planned vote earlier this week, voted against it. Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., a Democrat who does not support same-sex marriage, saved the legislation by voting to send it to the full House.

Before the final vote, Alston, a Prince George's County Democrat, attemped to amend the bill to establish civil unions instead of same-sex marriage. The effort drew praise from Republicans on the committee, but cricitism from her fellow Democrats. It failed.

Del. Jill Carter, the other holdout earlier this week, voted for the bill. The Baltimore Democrat supports same-sex marriage, but said she wanted to draw attention to education funding in Baltimore and her own legislation on child custody in divorce cases.

The bill's ride through the House already has been rockier than its passage in the Senate last week, raising new questions about its prospects in the full chamber. The House is expected to take up the debate next week, potentially the entire week.

Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Thanks to Julie Bykowicz, reporting from Annapolis.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 2:18 PM | | Comments (81)
Categories: Same-Sex 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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