23 February 2011

Maryland SB 116

The Maryland "Civil Marriage Protection Act" has been debated today and will get its final vote tomorrow. I had urged my representatives and the governor to support the bill. I didn't say anything terribly interesting or unusual, just that I support equal rights, including equal marriage rights, for all Marylanders. I took Equality Maryland's basic "please do the right thing" e-mail and added my own thoughts, including my belief that "gay marriage is just marriage."

And it certainly didn't hurt that one of my reps, Delegate Sheila Hixson, co-sponsored the legislation and another, Senator Jamie Raskin, was one of the legislators who introduced the bill.

So I am holding my breath as Maryland is given the chance to treat all of her citizens with dignity and respect. Sort of like in 1864: “Because Maryland remained in the Union, it was exempted from the anti-slavery provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation.(The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states in rebellion). In 1864 the state held a constitutional convention that culminated in the passage of a new state constitution. Article 24 of that document outlawed the practice of slavery. In 1867 the state extended suffrage to non-white males." (Via Wikipedia)*

The full text of the bill can be found here. It ain't very long and, frankly, it's not all that provocative. It merely lifts the "one man and one woman requirement." But then most really big things aren't that wordy.

And here is Senator Raskin's reply to my letter:

Dear Leta

Greetings and thanks for your very thoughtful note in support of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, the legislation that I have introduced with Senator Madaleno to end the stain of discrimination against tens of thousands of people in our state who are locked out of the institution of marriage. I consider it not only a serious moral and constitutional obligation but a high honor to be fighting for equal rights, benefits and responsibilities for my thousands of gay and lesbian constituents. We are making major gains across the country in securing equal citizenship for all our people and dramatic progress here in Maryland, where I believe we are on the verge of passing SB 116 this Session. I have been working very hard to convince wavering and undecided colleagues that this will be a vote they can be proud of for the rest of their lives. We had an extraordinarily successful hearing on Tuesday, February 8 in which the breadth and passion of support for marriage equality was manifest, along with the palpable weakness of arguments on the other side. On Thursday, February 17, I joined six of my colleagues on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee to vote in favor of the bill, 7-4, and to report the bill to the floor; the Committee also adopted an amendment I offered to assure churches and church-sponsored groups that they will not have to participate in the solemnization or celebration of any marriage they choose not to. In any event, Equality Maryland has been doing a superb job organizing, and I am convinced that we are going to win.

I am certain that the days of marriage discrimination are numbered and we will see justice on this front in our lifetimes, probably very soon. I am proud to be part of this movement for equal rights under the law for all Marylanders. Thanks for taking the time to write me, and please stay in close touch.

All best, Jamie

*I was actually assuming that I would have to include an example of some disgraceful aspect of Maryland history, so I am very grateful to Those Strangers on the Internet for providing me with something more uplifting.**

**And now you’re trying to remember when the 13th and 15th Amendments to US Constitution were enacted, right? December 1865 and February 1870, respectively. As goes Maryland …

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