Maryland: 6 Hours of Senate Testimony on Marriage Equality

The Maryland State Senate heard over 6 hours of testimony in support and opposition to the proposed marriage equality bill working it’s way through the Maryland State legislature.

From the MetroWeekly: “At the hearing, which began about 1 p.m. and lasted into the evening, Senate president Thomas Miller (D-Calvert, Prince George’s) spoke with optimism about the bill’s chances for success. Miller declared then that he predicts about a 70 percent chance that the bill will pass the Senate’s chambers, adding that a Senate vote is expected next week. The Senate’s Clerk Office reported that votes on such matters usually occur on Wednesdays, which would be Feb. 16.”

On the opposition side, National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher, in underestimating the compassion and common sense of equal rights, testified about what she said SB 116 would do to the “public understanding of marriage.”

What always amazes me about the opposition to marriage equality is the often repeated argument that marriage is only about procreation and raising children, and yet many heterosexual marriages have no children. I always wonder would Maggie Gallagher invalidate a marriage if no children were produced? Many senior citizens marry later in life, at a point when child rearing is out of the picture. Yet I never see Maggie opposed those marriages.

Also, there is a very weak argument that marriage is about the Bible and religion. And yet, in the Bible women were also considered “property.” Society evolved. 200 years ago, in this country, African-Americans were slaves and considered 3/5 of a human being. Society evolved. 100 years ago in this country, women didn’t have a voice in government or the right to vote. Society evolved. 50 years ago inter-racial marriage was against the law in many states. Society evolved.

For a marriage to be recognized in the United States, you are required to have a legal marriage license issued by a CIVIL government. This is why opponents are wrong when they try to say their opposition isn’t about civil rights. As long as a marriage license is issued by a CIVIL government, marriage is a civil rights issue. The church doesn’t extend hospital visitation rights, tax inheritance rights, social security survivorship rights – the civil government does. And as long as those rights are attainable by one group and not another, this is clearly a civil rights issue.

I personally have no desire to re-define a religion or it’s beliefs. I don’t want to see any law force a church to do anything against it’s will. But I do think, as long as the government is involved in issuing civil rights attached to a form of partnership, we should have equality for all. These rights should be available to everyone.

One last thing – some opponents argue that gay men have the same right to marry whatever woman they want, just like straight men. I’d like to ask those people: “would you like your sister to marry a gay man? Is that the solution you think would solve problems?”

UPDATE: According to the Baltimore Sun: “Baltimore County Sen. James Brochin found the testimony Tuesday by opponents of gay marriage “troubling,” and said this morning that he may support the bill. The Baltimore County Democrat had previously said he was against same-sex marriage.”

“The demonization of gay families really bothered me,” Brochin said. “Are these families going to continue to be treated by the law as second class citizens?”

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