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Sunday, February 13, 2011

For Maryland, a Chance to Lead on Same Sex Marriage

Update 2: The Baltimore Sun is reporting "Sen. Katherine Klausmeier said today that she has decided to vote in favor of same-sex marriage..." Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat has  emerged as the crucial 24th vote.

Update: Democrat Sen. Edward Kasemeyer (Baltimore and Howard counties) is now a yes. According to the Washington Post "With Kasemeyer's support, 22 senators have now pledged to vote for the same-sex marriage bill, which needs 24 votes for passage. A 23rd senator, Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore), has said she will vote for the bill if she believes it will pass."

Same-sex marriage proponents appeared poised to score a significant victory in Maryland as the state Senate inches closer to approving a bill, SB 116, that would redefine marriage as being between two individuals as opposed to being between one man and one woman. The bill needs 24 votes in the state Senate and presently enjoys 22 committed supporters and 5 Senators who are considering supporting the measure.  

In the landmark Loving v Virginia case, which overturned interracial marriage bans, the Supreme Court ruled "Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law"

The federal government and most states are well behind the curve on this issue - Maryland has a chance to lead on protecting this "basic civil right.".

Here is the list of Supporters and Opponents and Undecideds:   

No public position/Undecided   
Sen. John Astle, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat
Sen. Ulysses Currie, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. James Rosapepe, Prince George's County Democrat

Sen. James Brochin, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Bill Ferguson, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jennie Forehand, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Brian Frosh, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Rob Garagiola, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Lisa Gladden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Verna Jones, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Baltimore and Howard counties Democrat
Sen. Delores Kelley, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nancy King, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, Howard County Republican
Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County Democrat
Sen. Richard Madaleno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Roger Manno, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Karen Montgomery, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Paul Pinsky, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Victor Ramirez, Prince George's County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. James Robey, Howard County Democrat
Sen. Ronald Young, Frederick County Democrat (sponsor)
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County Democrat (sponsor)

Sen. Joanne Benson, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. David Brinkley, Carroll and Frederick counties Republican
Sen. Richard Colburn, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. James DeGrange, Anne Arundel County Democrat
Sen. Roy Dyson, Southern Maryland Democrat
Sen. George Edwards, Western Maryland Republican
Sen. Joseph Getty, Baltimore and Carroll counties Republican
Sen. Barry Glassman, Harford County Republican
Sen. Nancy Jacobs, Harford and Cecil counties Republican
Sen. J.B. Jennings, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican
Sen. James Mathias, Eastern Shore Democrat
Sen. Thomas Middleton, Charles County Democrat
Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, Prince George's and Calvert counties Democrat
Sen. C. Anthony Muse, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters, Prince George's County Democrat
Sen. E.J. Pipkin, Eastern Shore Republican
Sen. Edward Reilly, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Christopher Shank, Washington County Republican
Sen. Bryan Simonaire, Anne Arundel County Republican
Sen. Norman Stone, Baltimore County Democrat

At present, only five states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages to be performed within their states. Three other states, Maryland included, recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdiction. Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticutt, and DC are the only jurisdictions to have legalized
same sex marriage via legislation. In Iowa and Massachusetts state courts ordered the legalization of same sex marriage. 

In 31 states, legalization has been put to the voters via referendum and in each state, the voters have rejected it. 

It's an historical coincidence that by 1940, 31 out of 48 states had banned interracial marriage in some form. Gradually, as attitudes began to change 15 of the states overturned their laws - including Maryland, but Maryland waited until 1967, the same year that the Supreme Court would eventually declare bans on  interracial marriage.
Maryland has a chance to make a statement, Maryland has a chance to lead - voters have a chance to tell their representatives that equality knows no caveats.