Marriage Equality Takes Giant Step Forward in Maryland
House of Delegates Votes ‘Yes’ to Marriage
Washington– In a historic move, the Maryland House of Delegates today approved marriage equality legislation introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley (D) that would allow committed gay and lesbian couples to marry. The next stop for the legislation is a vote in the State Senate. Last year, the same-sex marriage bill died on the House floor; a vote was not taken.
“We could not be more grateful to the Delegates who today voted to make all Maryland families stronger,” said Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “Today, we took a giant step toward marriage equality becoming law – and we are in this position due to the unwavering leadership and resolve of Governor O’Malley, Speaker Busch and our legislative allies.”
The Civil Marriage Protection Act allows committed gay and lesbian couples to obtain a marriage license while providing religious exemptions for churches and other religious institutions. Clergy, for example, do not have to perform any marriage they do not agree with. The bill protects religious liberty.
The Human Rights Campaign has committed extensive resources to the Maryland effort, 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.
Today’s legislative win for marriage equality comes at a historic moment: in the past two 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 yesterday. Six states and the District of Columbia recognize marriage equality, with Washington State’s law set to go into effect in three months.
Read an overview of HRC’s engagement in Maryland.