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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
Lambda Legal asks Supremes to hear Louisiana adoption case
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Lambda Legal asks Supremes to hear Louisiana adoption case

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The fight for marriage equality in the state of Maryland has now become a political slugfest between two Irish Catholic heavyweights.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said on July 15 that he would make passage of a marriage bill one of his legislative priorities.

Baltimore Archbishop Edwin O'Brien replied on July 19 that O'Malley would have a fight on his hands if he wants to legalize same-sex marriage.

Maryland's Senate passed a marriage equality bill in February, but in March the measure failed to come up for a vote in the House of Delegates.

It is expected to be reintroduced next year.

'I certainly plan to be very active in support of it, and we'll have other announcements in upcoming months,' O'Malley said at the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City.

O'Malley is a supporter of civil unions, and has said that if lawmakers passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, he would sign it. July 15 marks the first time O'Malley has committed to pushing for marriage equality, however.

O'Malley suggested that Maryland would model its marriage law after New York's, particularly the so-called 'religious exemption' that was included in the New York bill and was crucial to its passage.

'I think we can learn from what they did,' O'Malley said. 'One of the things we're looking at in the drafting is how their clauses with regard to religious freedom were different from ours. That might improve our efforts.'

'Maryland is not New York,' Archbishop O'Brien shot back in a statement issued July 19.

'During the 2011 session, Maryland lawmakers chose not to redefine marriage because they listened to their Maryland constituents and stood by their deeply held moral convictions.'

Marriage is 'not a partisan issue or a question of civil rights; it is a foundational issue to our society,' the archbishop insisted.

'Government's interest in marriage has been to promote the procreation of children, protect the best method of raising children, and therefore protect society for future generations,' he said. 'There are many ways to protect basic human rights; sacrificing marriage is not one of them.'

'The successful coalition that upheld the time-honored definition of marriage in Maryland, which includes many leaders of African-American churches throughout the state, remains intact and will continue to be vigorously involved in upholding marriage in Maryland,' the archbishop threatened.

O'Brien's threats need to be taken seriously.

Marriage equality legislation was thought to be on its way to victory this year, until the Catholic Church and its allies amped up their lobbying efforts.

The bill passed the Maryland Senate by a 25-21 vote, and then stalled in the House as potential Yes votes dropped away under intense pressure. Eventually the bill's sponsors decided to withdraw it without a vote rather than risk seeing it voted down.

It now appears that the March action was only round one in what could prove to be a long and nasty fight.

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