Maryland Legislature Introduces The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act

by HRC Staff

WASHINGTON - At a press conference today, Maryland legislators announced the introduction of The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, a bill which would provide equal access to civil marriage for same-sex couples while ensuring that religious institutions continue to have the right to perform and recognize only the marriages of their choosing.

"This is a historic step forward for the state of Maryland and all of its citizens," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We applaud Senators Rich Madaleno and Jamie Raskin, Delegates Ben Barnes, Maggie McIntosh, Anne Kaiser, Heather Mizeur, and Todd Schuler, as well as the bill's 42 other co-sponsors, and Equality Maryland, the lead organization on this bill."

Solmonese continued: "Right now, loving and committed same-sex couples in Maryland and their families are denied the more than 1,000 basic legal rights that a marriage license provides. This legislation would remedy this unequal treatment and ensure that all Maryland families receive, under Maryland law, the equal rights they deserve."

The legislation follows a divided 4-3 court ruling last year that permitted the state to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples under the state constitution.

Senator Gwendolyn Britt was a strong advocate for marriage equality legislation in Maryland. Following her sudden death earlier this month, Senators Madaleno and Raskin have led efforts to pass this legislation in the Senate.

The Human Rights Campaign is working with Equality Maryland to pass this important legislation, and has hired two lobbyists to help move the bill forward and advance equality for Marylanders.

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

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