LGBT groups Freedom to Marry, Courage Campaign and Equality Maryland have collected more than 3,000 signatures urging Maryland’s Senator Barbara Mikulski to become a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.
The legislation would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and as such prevents the government from conferring over a thousand rights and benefits to married same-sex couples.
“Recent census data show nearly 17,000 same-sex couples living across the state of Maryland. These loving, committed couples and their families are harmed every day by the denial of marriage, and by federal discrimination against the marriages they are able to celebrate across the border in the District of Columbia and six other states,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “We hope that Senator Mikulski will heed the call of her constituents and join us in ending marriage discrimination at the federal level and in Maryland.”
“The Democratic governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, is backing a bill to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples next year,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the 700,000-member Courage Campaign. “Surely Senator Mikulski wants to lead the effort to assure that all married people in Maryland are treated fairly, which requires repeal of DOMA.”
“A majority of Marylanders support the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry — and Maryland is poised to ensure that all married couples have their relationships legally recognized by their home state.,” said Lisa Polyak, acting chair of Equality Maryland. “However, same-sex couples will never be equal under the law until federal restrictions are banished. This means the so-called Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. Sen. Mikulski’s support as a co-sponsor of this bill would reflect the will of her constituents, and make clear that she stands on the side of legal equality for all citizens.”
Senator Ben Cardin, also of Maryland, has already signed on to the Respect for Marriage Act. The U.S. Senate recently held a hearing into repealing DOMA where senators heard the deleterious effects of the legislation including the restrictions it places on states that already allow for same-sex marriage.
Maryland does not currently allow for same-sex marriages within the state, however Maryland does honor same-sex marriages from other states.
Maryland legislators took up the issue of marriage equality during the previous legislative session however, while the state senate was able to pass a marriage equality bill, legislators in the state’s lower chamber got cold feet and recommitted the bill rather than passing it.
As mentioned above Governor Martin O’Malley, inspired by New York’s marriage equality victory, has said he will take the lead on passing marriage equality legislation in January.
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