Bill to legalize gay ‘marriage’ introduced in Maryland legislature
ANNAPOLIS, MD, January 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The battle over gay “marriage” has heated up in Maryland with the introduction of a bill seeking to legalize the institution into the Senate at the end of last week, and into the House of Delegates earlier this week.
The bill, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act,” seeks to repeal a section of Maryland law that says that “only a marriage between a man and a woman” is valid. The bill would replace “a man and a woman” with “two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying.”
It would also add a clause to Maryland law that says religious institutions could not be forced to solemnize “any marriage in violation of the right to free exercise of religion.”
Democrat Governor Martin O’Malley has indicated that he would sign the bill into law if it were passed.
“We’ve been marching in this direction [same-sex “marriage”] for a while now,” Democratic state Delegate Heather Mizeur, one of the co-sponsors of the House version of the bill, told CNN earlier this month.
Mizeur, an openly homosexual legislator, said that marriage is the next logical step in the long expansion of rights for homosexuals in the state. “It just took a little while to get us there, but we’re seizing the moment. It’s our time.”
Gay rights activists believe that the time is ripe to push the issue, with the addition of two more Democrats in the Maryland State Senate and the Democrat majority in the General Assembly.
Should the bill be passed by the legislature, pro-family advocates would have recourse to the referendum process. Collecting 55,000 signatures would put the issue to a popular vote in 2012.
Thus far, in every jurisdiction in the country where gay “marriage” has gone to a popular vote, it has been rejected.
Republican Deligate Donald H. Dwyer Jr., who opposes same-sex “marriage” and civil unions, said he is looking forward to a robust floor debate, the Baltimore Sun reported. “I believe that every member should have to be on record as for or against this. And then the voters will get the issue, and it will be defeated.”
Senate President Democrat Thomas V. Mike Miller agreed with Dwyer. The traditional definition of marriage, he said, “is blessed by God” and meant to further procreation.
Meanwhile, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has guaranteed “a full fight” in Maryland. Brian Brown, NOM’s president, said the state is on a “dangerous path” toward “radically redefining the most pro-child institution ever.” He maintains most Marylanders do not support same-sex “marriage” and says he expects that “if ignored, they will rise up and overturn the legislature at the ballot box.”
The “Catholic” gays rights activist group, Catholics for Equality, has applauded the bill. Director Rev. Joseph Palacios told press, “To be an American Catholic is to fulfill the ideals of American equality, freedom, and opportunity, as well as the ideals of Catholic love, family, and social solidarity. Today Catholics are the most socially progressive Christian denomination in the U.S.”
However, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore has decried the bill. “Despite media reports suggesting that Maryland’s law defining marriage as between one man and woman could be overturned this year, that result is by no means certain,” said the archbishop. “Catholics and all people of good faith will speak up in affirming the benefits and value of marriage to children and society, and communicating their support to their legislators.”
“We have a compelling moral responsibility, as bishops, pastors and parishioners, to uphold marriage at a time when our society’s foundational institution is facing such a critical challenge,” he said.
If Maryland legalized gay “marriage,” it would join Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
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