Minor Delay, as Md. Moves Forward on Marriage Equality Measure, Sources Say

February 22, 2012

by Jeremy Leaming

Though leaders of the Maryland Senate have delayed consideration of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s marriage equality bill, The Washington Post reports the measure is still expected to pass the chamber and reach the governor by week’s end.

The Senate’s Minority Whip Edward R. Reilly (R-Anne Arundel), the newspaper reports, obtained the delay so amendments to the equality measure could be prepared. Senate President Thomas Miller Jr. said he expects the measure to pass the Senate, as it did last year.

O’Malley (pictured) is pushing hard to add Maryland to the list of states that have legalized same-sex marriage. Following last week’s approval of the measure by the Maryland House of Delegates, the governor said “we’re prepared to redouble our efforts” as the Senate considers the measure.

“The common thread,” he continued, “running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.”

As in Washington, where Gov. Chris Gregoire recently enacted marriage equality legislation, Christian evangelical lobbyists in Maryland are vowing to drag marriage equality before voters, if need be.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, representing a gaggle of Christian evangelical interests, is loudly arguing that marriage must remain exclusive to men and women. In a missive on the group’s website, it claims that houses of worship that refuse to conduct weddings for gays and lesbians will place their tax benefits in jeopardy. Maryland’s equality bill, however, contains and exemption for houses of worship, much like the one that passed last year in New York. The Md. bill explicitly states that houses of worship, which receive generous government tax benefits, can play be different rules, and discriminate against gays and lesbians if they wish.

On another marriage equality front, the Christian Right organization, ProtectMarriage, which pushed California’s ant-equality measure Proposition 8, recently announced it would ask the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review the panel ruling that invalidated Proposition 8. The group had the opportunity to ask the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel decision, but opted for the en banc review, as TPM’s Jillian Rayfield reports.

Writing for the 2-1 majority in Perry v. Brown, Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt said Proposition 8 served no compelling state interest. Instead, Reinhardt said Prop. 8 was all about stripping newly gained liberties from lesbians and gays.

[image via MDGovpics]