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March 01, 2012

Category: Marriage, State Advocacy, Maryland

Maryland Makes History with Marriage Equality Law

Governor’s Signature Puts State on the Road to Fairness for All Families

03/01/2012

Washington – Today the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)  – the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization – applauded Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley for signing a historic bill extending marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.  HRC is proud to have been a founding member of the coalition to pass the marriage bill, and its work on the ground with state partners.

“The Governor’s signature today puts Maryland on the road to fairness for all families,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.  “This victory was possible thanks to the hard work of so many on the ground in Maryland. Our congratulations go to Governor O’Malley and our legislative allies who were incredible leaders in this effort.”

The Human Rights Campaign committed extensive resources to the legislative effort in the Free State, including helping to create Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the broad-based coalition made up of labor, faith, civil liberties, and LGBT organizations. HRC provided the campaign’s senior staff and spearheaded the field, communications, and faith components of the coalition effort. Learn more about HRC’s engagement in the effort to get the bill passed.

Pending a likely referendum process, Maryland now joins six other states – Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont – plus the District of Columbia in recognizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples under the law.  Additionally, Washington state passed marriage equality earlier this year and that bill is expected to be on the ballot in November as well.  8 states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Rhode Island—provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

“There remains a lot of work to do between now and an expected November referendum to make marriage equality a reality in Maryland,” added Solmonese. “Along with coalition partners, we look forward to educating and engaging voters about what this bill does: It strengthens all Maryland families and protects religious liberty.”

A January poll by the Washington Post showed 50% of Marylanders support gay and lesbian couples getting married with 44% opposed.  

Today’s legislative win for marriage equality comes at a historic moment. In the past few weeks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled California’s discriminatory Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional; Governor Christine Gregoire signed marriage equality into law in Washington State; and a marriage bill passed the New Jersey legislature. Six states and the District of Columbia recognize marriage equality, with Washington State’s law set to go into effect in three months. 

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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