HRC Blog

Losing Recognition By Crossing State Lines

This personal reflection on testifying before a Maryland House committee comes from HRC's Youth and Campus Outreach Associate Director, Candace Gingrich-Jones: Rebecca and Candace Gingrich-Jones Yesterday I had the honor of traveling with my wife to Annapolis to testify against HB 90 in front of the Maryland House Judiciary Committee. HB 90 was introduced by Del. Emmet Burns and would make it law that Maryland would never recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Rebecca and I are one of those couples -- when we married in Boston last summer we were living in the District, which had recently decided to recognize marriages like ours. But we bought a house and moved to Maryland and as soon as we crossed from Michigan Avenue in Northeast DC to Queens Chapel Road in Maryland we were no longer recognized as a legally married couple. There were 5 people who testified in support of the bill, including Delegate Burns and at least 20 who testified against it, including former HRC Legislative Counsel Liz Seaton. Testimony came from House delegates, lawyers, people of faith, couples & professionals, and ranged from sound legal opinion to impassioned life stories – all showing overwhelming evidence why this bill should not be passed out of committee. I am hopeful that the Judiciary Committee will not vote favorable for this bill and in the coming weeks Attorney General Doug Gansler will rule that Maryland will begin recognizing out of state same-sex marriages. This will give thousands of Maryland families the rights, responsibilities and benefits that they so greatly deserve. And Rebecca and I won’t have to stop being recognized when we leave the District and go home at night. Read Gingrich-Jones' full testimony after the jump...

Testimony by Candace and Rebecca Gingrich-Jones

I would like to thank the Judiciary Committee for allowing my wife and me to testify against HB-90. I am proud and honored to be able to use such an appellation as “wife” and deeply disturbed that HB-90 seeks to ensure that our home state of Maryland will never recognize our union. Rebecca and I are still newlyweds, I guess, we made our trip to Boston in August of 2009, got our paperwork in order and said our vows in a public park. At the time, we were living in the District which had recently ruled that it would recognize same-sex marriages from other states.  This was a comfort to us, knowing that should something bad occur we would be recognized as legal spouses. We unfortunately got to test this theory when Candace was admitted to the emergency room at Washington Hospital. I was coming from class at nearby Catholic University and in addition to my concerns about Candace’s health I also had the thought “what if they don’t let me in to see her?”  It almost stopped me in my tracks until I remembered that we were married and indeed, upon identifying myself was taken directly to her room. In October, however, we left the District to live in Hyattsville, Maryland. But while we have gained a home in Maryland, we have lost our legal standing as a married couple and all the benefits, protections and obligations that should come with it. We could have easily stayed in the district and kept our status as a married couple – but we felt Maryland was a better place to start our lives together. We chose Maryland, and now some in Maryland would choose to never recognize our true legal standing.   We are living what many consider the American dream – we fell in love, got married, bought a house and plan on having children. Yet by simple virtue of crossing the state line from Washington, DC to Maryland we are, in an instant, strangers under the law. This state has the ability to do the right thing and recognize out of state marriages.  In the shadow of our nation’s capital, the promise of the pursuit of happiness should not be an ideal granted to only some of us, but universal in its application. My wife and I believe that government has the responsibility to protect and advocate for all its’ citizens. The Maryland House can make a strong statement for fairness and equal treatment for all by defeating HB 90. Thank you.
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