Maryland House passes same-sex marriage

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Maryland House passes same-sex marriage: Bill now goes to Senate

By Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun
9:13 p.m. EST, February 17, 2012

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage squeaked through the House of Delegates Friday night with one more vote than the minimum needed for passage, putting Maryland on the cusp of being the eighth state to allow such unions.

Cheers erupted when the gavel dropped on the final 72-67 tally. Within minutes, Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, walked down from his second floor office to the doorway of the House chamber, embraced House Speaker Michael E. Busch and said, "Good job, man."

"We are a good people. We all want the same things for our kids," O'Malley said. Then he offered credit to delegates and activists, many of whom who had been skeptical about his commitment to the issue. "These guys did it," he said.

The measure goes now to the Senate, which last year passed a similar bill and is expected do so again. That chamber will likely take it up next week.

Should it pass in both chambers, activists on both sides believe it will petitioned to referendum in November. If voters approve, the earliest a gay couple would be able to wed is January 2013, when the law would go into effect.

The victory is significant for O'Malley, who threw the weight of his office behind the measure after a similar bill fell short a few votes in the House last year. The governor, a Democrat, had been working the halls of the House office building at all hours to convince wavering delegates.

In national terms, the Maryland vote caps a week in which same-sex marriage proponents have scored significant victories with the signing of a similar law in Washington state and the legislature's approval of a marriage bill in New Jersey—though Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it Friday.

Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, predicted that if the Maryland bill wins Senate approval, the momentum would carry over to a referendum this year in Maine and to legislative battles next year in Hawaii, Illinois and Rhode Island.

The seven days since an 11- hour hearing a week ago Friday have been filled with high drama. Supporters felt they had the votes Thursday when the measure was scheduled to be on the House floor, but there was a medical emergency. Del. Veronica Turner, a Prince George's Democrat, fell ill and had to be rushed into surgery.

The debate was delayed until later in the day Thursday. The House came back for a rare evening session, but the expected debate still did not happen. Instead, the measure was sent to committee to consider amendments.

On Friday morning Turner spoke to House leaders in a conference call from her hospital bed. Several who were on the call said that she wanted to be on the House floor for the vote despite orders from her doctor to remain in bed.

A decisive vote came from the same Prince George's County lawmaker who helped kill the bill last year by walking out of a voting session. This year, Del. Tiffany Alston voted against the bill in committee and vowed as recently as Tuesday to vote no on the floor.

But after the House adopted her amendment ensuring the bill wouldn't go into effect if efforts to bring it to a referendum were still being litigated, Alston switched her stand, explaining that she wants to see the voters make the final decision.

"I'm supporting this bill because I think the community needs a vote," she told the House.

Two Republicans joined 70 Democrats to put the bill over the top: Wade Kach of Baltimore County and Robert Costa of Anne Arundel County. Two Democratic delegates did not vote: David Rudolph of Cecil County, who had an excused absence, and Turner.

Debate on the issue was highly emotional on both sides, but the tone was largely civil.

Del. Maggie McIntosh, a gay woman who is also one of the House's most senior leaders, described the price she had to pay as she struggled to come to terms with her sexual orientation in the 1960s and 1970s.

"I had to forfeit marriage. I had to forfeit having children," said McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat. She said younger gay people are deciding they won't forfeit parenthood.

"Today they are looking at us in this room and saying I don't want to forfeit marriage."

Del. Anne Kaiser, a Montgomery County Democrat who is a lesbian, told the House that her parents wanted her to enjoy a long life and to find someone to love.

"I have, and I want to be married," she said. "Marriage – nothing more, nothing less."

Del. Donald Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican who is fiercely opposed to gay marriage, struck a conciliatory tone.

"I know all of you expect me to get up here and go into a tirade," he said before extending an olive branch to his foes. "I will be forever grateful to my friends on the other side of the issue who have extended their hand."

If the General Assembly passes the bill and the voters ratify it in a referendum, he said, "who am I to stand in the way?"

Del. Emmett C. Burns of Baltimore County, a minister and an outspoken Democratic opponent of same-sex marriage, said that everywhere he goes, people tell him the Assembly shouldn't pass the bill.

"I believe that people who are gay have a right to be that, but the word 'marriage' should not be attached," he said.

Burns predicted the religious protections in the bill will be inadequate.

"Down the road, if we pass this, some smart lawyer is going to find a way to sue this church because they have this outreach program or they won't provide a wedding."

But Del. John A. Olszewski Jr., a Democrat from southeastern Baltimore County who negotiated some of those protections, said the governor's bill "goes above and beyond" to protect the right of religious institutions to decide what is right for them.

"To go another day denying full rights to all Marylanders would be a disgrace," he said.

After the vote, proponents exulted.

Lisa Polyak, a board member of Equality Maryland who has long advocated such a measure, wiped away tears. "I can't believe this day has come," she said. "Tomorrow we will worry about the petition drive. Tonight we will celebrate."

For McIntosh it was special moment. Her first move, after the bill's passage was announced, was to shake hands with House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell, a leading opponent. Moments later, she and Kaiser shared a celebratory embrace.

"This is the best day, moment of my 23 years in the legislature," McIntosh said.

When he emerged from the chamber, Busch was greeted with cheers – many of them coming from couples who are the bill's potential beneficiaries.

Busch said the outcome, which he supported, "feels great." Choking up as he addressed the crowd, the speaker quipped: "I don't want to be like John Boehner" – referring to the frequently teary speaker of the U.S. House of Represenatives.

Meanwhile, some opponents reacted angrily.

Del. Mike McDermott, an Eastern Shore Republican, released a statement saying the vote "makes no sense at all."

"At the end of the day, the governor and liberal leadership decided that they knew better than God how to define marriage," he said. "It is a travesty of the legislative system and it truly is a sad day for the people of Maryland."
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-same-sex-alert-20120217,0,7560907,full.story
 

LiddyRules

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On the outside, Rick Santorum is upset. On the inside, there's a dick up his ass.
 

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Dick Cheney Part Of Marriage Equality Lobbying Effort In Maryland: Report


First Posted: 02/17/2012 1:36 pm Updated: 02/17/2012 8:46 pm

WASHINGTON -- Dick Cheney is part of a lobbying campaign to convince at least one Maryland state lawmaker to back marriage equality, the Baltimore Sun reported on Thursday. Since leaving the vice president's office, Cheney has been increasingly vocal in his support for same-sex marriage, but the extent of his engagement on the issue was not previously well known.

The Sun story, flagged by John Aravosis at AMERICAblog, focused on the fight in the state over Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) bill to legalize gay marriage. It revealed that Maryland Del. Wade Kach (R-Baltimore) had been offered an opportunity to chat with Cheney, ostensibly to convince him to support marriage equality.

Kach had been widely expected to vote against the legislation. He told the Sun that he changed his mind and decided to support it after hearing testimony from committed same-sex couples during a hearing last week, which went on for nearly 11 hours. In addition, Kach received some pressure from high-profile national Republicans:

He also became the target of a last-minute lobby effort, and said his voice mail was full of messages from important people, including [former Republican National Committee chair Ken] Mehlman, [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg and an offer to talk with former Vice President Dick Cheney, whom Kach regards as a "great man." All three are recognized for their support of gay rights issues.

"I don't know if this report is true, but it wouldn't surprise me if it is," said Jimmy LaSalvia, co-founder and executive director of the pro-LGBT rights group GOProud. "Vice President Cheney, who owns a home in Maryland, has always said that the states should decide this issue and that the federal government shouldn't have a policy regarding marriage. He has also stated that he is in favor of same sex civil marriage."

A high-profile Republican close to Cheney told The Huffington Post that they had not heard about the former vice president's involvement. Another source close to Cheney pushed back against the report. Cheney's office was not immediately available for comment.

Cheney has, for years, been one of the most prominent Republican supporters of same-sex marriage.

"I think that freedom means freedom for everyone. As many of you know, one of my daughters is gay and it is something we have lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish," he said in 2009, placing him in the rare position of being more progressive than President Barack Obama on a policy issue.

If the Maryland General Assembly approves O'Malley's legislation, the state would become the eighth to legalize marriage equality.

UPDATE: 3:10 p.m. -- R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said in a statement, "Vice President Cheney has been a conservative champion for the freedom to marry since he spoke the words, 'freedom means freedom for everybody.' As a member of the Bush-Cheney administration and executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, I am proud and grateful that he has chosen to lend his voice to securing marriage in Maryland."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...land_n_1284727.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009
Another source close to Cheney pushed back against the report
Was that a subtle gay innuendo by the writer? If so, pretty fabulously executed...
 

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Just accept it, bigots. Fags gonna marry. Boo fucking Hoo.
 

BOZ29

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Marriage in the eyes of the state is not marriage in the eyes of god so who gives a fuck if a judge, not a religious figure last time I checked, marries a couple of faggots.
 

Mags

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Must be tough to get talking points on Sunday.
 

whiskeyguy

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Good for Chaney. He probably would be completely against this if he didn't have a gay child, but at least he accepts it now that he does.
 

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Don the Radio Guy

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Do your research.

Delaware already legalized it. Well... technically it is a civil union... but same thing.
And I've spoken on the air in support of it on the most conservative station in the state. I wonder what all of the trolls here have done to support the cause?
 

Sunsetspawn

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Marriage in the eyes of the state is not marriage in the eyes of god so who gives a fuck if a judge, not a religious figure last time I checked, marries a couple of faggots.
One gets their authority from the entirety of laws of the United States of America. The others get their authority from The Silmarillion or sumsuchbook. Which matters more?

Do your research.

Delaware already legalized it. Well... technically it is a civil union... but same thing.
Butt buddies?
 

LiddyRules

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And I've spoken on the air in support of it on the most conservative station in the state. I wonder what all of the trolls here have done to support the cause?
I don't think it's fair to expect any of us to compete with that Nathan Hale.

*wavey thing*