A political battle is brewing in Annapolis after a joint committee in the House of Delegates voted to send the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012 to the full chamber on Tuesday. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has pushed for a compromise bill which would make Maryland only the eigth state to approve same sex marriage in the nation.
“Today’s vote on the Civil Marriage Protection Act is a significant step forward for the passage of this bill in Maryland,” O’Malley said. “Together, we will continue our work to ensure that our State protects religious freedom and provides equal protection under the law for all Marylanders.”
Earlier this week, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire (D) signed a same sex marriage bill in to law in her state, making Washington State the seventh state to approve same sex marriage. The State of Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same sex marriage after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution requires same sex marriage be permitted despite the opposition of then Governor (and current Republican Presidential front-runner) Mitt Romney.
The proposal that is headed before the Maryland General Assembly would legalize same sex marriage but it would not require religious institutions to recognize the marriages.
“It is not right or just that the children of gay couples should have lesser protections than the children of other families in our State,” O’Malley said in his State of the State address earlier this month. “Nor would it be right to force religious institutions to conduct marriages that conflict with their own religious beliefs and teachings.
“In Maryland, we already recognize civil marriages performed in other states and just over our border in the District of Columbia. It is time to join with clergy, faith-based organizations, civil rights organizations, community leaders, and individuals across our State to pass a civil marriage law that protects religious freedom and civil marriage rights equally.”
The most likely scenario is that a same sex marriage amendment would be put before the voters in a referendum. Supporters of the push for same sex marriage feel that a same sex marriage bans violate the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, while opponents feel legalizing same sex marriage is a moral issue that violates the sanctity of marriage. Opponents also feel that requiring marriage be between people of opposite genders is not discrimination and does not violate the Constitution.