ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, February 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A handful of state senators in Maryland that have not declared a position on an upcoming same-sex “marriage” vote heard impassioned testimony from voters who flooded the capital for a hearing on the issue Tuesday afternoon.
The Baltimore Sun reports that, of 47 Maryland state senators, 20 support SB 116, which would legalize same-sex “marriage,” and which requires 24 “yes” votes. Out of six undeclared votes, three (Democratic Sens. Katherine Klausmeier, Joan Carter Conway and Ulysses Currie) say they are undecided, while three (Democratic Sens. John Astle, Edward Kasemeyer and James Rosapepe) refuse to state their position.
The bill already has the support of the majority of the 11-member Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, six of whom now co-sponsor the measure after Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller reorganized the committee after the November elections. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has promised to sign the bill if passed.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing hosted both opponents and supporters, who reportedly showed up in similar numbers and packed the hearing room as well as an overflow room. 150 signed up to testify in remarks limited to three minutes each.
Homosexual couples, and children with homosexual guardians, approached the podium to share emotional testimony in favor of the bill.
Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, the Senate’s only openly gay member, told the panel that the lack of legal gay “marriage” denigrated his relationship with his gay lover. “He is just my partner. Even that term cheapens our relationship,” he said. On Wednesday morning, Baltimore County Sen. James Brochin, who had opposed the bill, said he may support it after hearing testimony from homosexual couples.
Top traditional marriage supporters, including Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council and Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, warned against the consequences of inventing a new definition of marriage. “Marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mom and dad,” said Gallagher.
Victor Kirk, pastor of Sharon Bible Fellowship in Lanham, criticized the bill’s distortion of the meaning of marriage. “If this bill passes what next?” he asked, according to the Sun. “What if a father wants to marry his daughter? Or a brother and sister want to marry each other?” he asked. While both scenarios are currently “preposterous,” he said, so was gay “marriage” 20 years ago.
The same-sex “marriage” bill, which, if passed, would make Maryland the sixth U.S. state to redefine marriage, could see a floor vote as early as next week.
The debate has a clear religious aspect: nearly one-third of the state senators are Catholic, and their bishops, who plan to host a pro-marriage rally in coming days, form the top lobby group against the bill.
A Sun article Monday highlighted the spiritual conflict of Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, a Catholic and one of the three undecided votes, over the bill. She told the paper that her position has changed frequently, weighing the counsel of her Catholic faith on one hand, and the stories of homosexual couples on the other.