Could Maryland Be Next?

Our neighbor to the south is pushing for same-sex marriage

Progressive Maryland – a coalition in favor of marriage equality – has launched a campaign to legalize gay marriage in the state. The group is bolstered by such groups as Equality Maryland, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, Service Employees International Union 1199, and Maryland Catholics for Equality, as well as other religious organizations. The group – under the umbrella of Marylanders for Marriage Equality – is pushing for a bill to be introduced in the 2012 legislative session in January.

“Marriage equality is a progressive value,” said Rion Dennis, executive director of Progressive Maryland, during a press conference. “Loving, committed couples should be able to come here to City Hall to get marriage licenses – just like my wife and I did – and just like six other states and the District of Columbia have done.”

Backing the bill is Del. Mary Washington, a lesbian member of the Maryland House of Delegates, along with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who appeared at a rally in Annapolis. Also in support is Del. Peter Murphy – who came out earlier this year – Del. Maggie McIntosh, a senior member of the LGBT Caucus in the House of Delegates, and Del. Heather Mizeur, also a lesbian.

The last time a marriage equality bill was proposed – last year – it failed in the House even after the Senate approved it. The Washington Blade attributes the failure to opposition from conservative church groups and specifically African-American pastors in Prince George County, as well as a swift, well-funded campaign against the bill by anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

Gov. Martin O’Malley has said that he would sign a marriage bill into law if it passes the legislature.

“The government should not be in the business on picking and choosing which couples can get married, ” said Dennis. “Government should be in the business of making families stronger – and nothing says family like marriage.”