Press Room

April 11, 2005

Category: Domestic Partners

HRC Urges Maryland Gov. Ehrlich to Sign Medical Decision-Making Act

'This bill would protect couples when they're most vulnerable,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign lauded the Maryland Legislature for passing the Medical Decision-Making Act of 2005. The measure, passed last night, creates a statewide life partnership registry for unmarried couples and extends 11 rights to registered couples, including the right to hospital visitation, to make medical decisions on behalf of a partner, to make funeral arrangements and to share a room in a nursing home.

"This bill protects couples when they're most vulnerable," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Banning a same-sex partner at the hospital room door does nothing to serve the greater good. We commend Equality Maryland for its work in getting the bill to the governor's desk. We strongly urge Governor Ehrlich to sign this critical piece of legislation into law."

"The number of stories of individuals who could not be with their partners during times of sickness, childbirth and surgery is appalling," said Equality Maryland Executive Director Dan Furmansky. "The Medical Decision-Making Act will offer peace of mind to more than 110,000 unmarried couples in Maryland at the most critical times in life, as well as after the death of a loved one."

Maryland will become the seventh state to confer statewide rights on same-sex couples. For other states, see HRC's map. HRC worked closely with the statewide gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political group, Equality Maryland, to build support for this measure. HRC's work included: drafting the legislation, providing testimony at four hearings, providing legislative and expert assistance to sponsors and lobbyists, drafting amendment language and sending Action Alerts to members in the state on Equality Maryland's behalf.

"Equality Maryland relied heavily upon the technical assistance of HRC State Legislative Lawyer Carrie Evans, who helped draft the legislation, provided testimony and lobbied for its passage," said Furmansky.

Del. John Adams Hurson, D-Montgomery County, and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City, sponsored the measure, which passed the Maryland Senate on March 25 by a 31-16 vote and the House of Delegates on April 6 by an 82-46 vote. Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich has not said whether he would sign the bill into law. He has 30 days to act on this bill. He has three options - sign it into law, veto it or do nothing, in which case the measure becomes law. The law becomes effective Oct. 1, 2005.

On April 6, the Maryland Legislature passed another measure that will help same-sex couples. House Bill 1298, sponsored by Del. Anne Kaiser, D-Montgomery County, exempts domestic partners from the transfer and recordation tax that is paid when one partner is added or removed to the deed of the other partner's property on the home they share. The measure is modeled after a Montgomery County law that has been in place since 2002. It now heads to Ehrlich's desk for signing.