The Maryland Senate on February 24 approved a bill that would give same-sex couples the same marriage rights that heterosexuals now enjoy in the state.
Five U.S. States Have Already Approved Gay Marriage
If the House also approves the measure , and Governor O’Malley signs it, which he has said he will, Maryland will become the sixth state in the U.S. to approve gay marriage. New Hampshire, Massachussetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont have already approved gay marriage rights, as well as the District of Columbia.
The bill just squeaked by, with 25 votes in favor and 21 against. A majority of 24 of 47 senators was needed. Senator Allan Kittleman, Republican, of Howard, joined 24 Democrats to vote in favor of passage.
Opponents Promise A Referendum in 2012
However, opponents, who include Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Democrat-Calvert, declared that if the bill does become law, a referendum question would be on the 2012 ballot for voters to have the final word.
The Senate’s only openly gay member, Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, told his colleagues that his partner — whom he married 10 years ago — is still a “legal stranger” to him in Maryland.
“This bill is quite simple, it has two parts to it: It reiterates that no religious denomination will ever be required to recognize, perform or celebrate any marriage that is against its beliefs. At the same time, it provides full equality under the law for thousands of same-gender couples in our state, couples like Mark and myself,” Madaleno said.
Kittleman, the lone Republican to vote in favor of the bill, recalled his father’s work with the black community during the civil rights movement. Kittleman, who is white, said his father would invite leaders from the NAACP and other civil rights groups to his house when he was growing up in the 1960s.
“We lived in a very white neighborhood, and we’d have the leaders of the African American community coming to our house talking and I would go to my neighbors’ later, I’d go see my friends and their parents would come to me and say ‘Allan, why do all those black people come to your house?’” Kittleman said.
Granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples might not be the same as the civil rights movement, Kittleman said, but “it’s the right thing to do.”
Kudos to Senator Kittleman and his father!
Photo credit: Marc Love via Creative Commons