Last Thursday, our state government made Maryland the 8th state to allow same-sex marriage. Not that anyone should get their hopes up or anything… No one can actually have a same-sex marriage until January of 2013… maybe.
The bill’s passage is only a stepping-stone to full marital freedom for gay couples. One of the reasons the bill passed this year, after failing last year, is the cover provided by the referendum process. Legislators that were on the fence were able to take the position that “The People” should be able to decide. (Much like NJ Governor Chris Christie did when vetoing the gay marriage bill passed by the NJ legislature.)
This will truly be an incremental process. Once the referendum has been fought, recounted and decided, then it will be the Courts’ turn. No way that either side is going quit without seeking the Court to either overturn the law or determine the legality of the referendum. In other words, people seeking a same-sex marriage in Maryland should probably wait a while before booking the hall.
When I wrote about the issue last year, (and again), the bill had passed the state Senate and was being sent to the House of Delegates. It landed there with a bang as people crawled out of the woodwork to testify against it. The bill never made it out of Committee because the House leaders couldn’t confirm enough votes for passage.
This year, Governor Martin O’Malley spearheaded the effort. Last year, he made no such effort, saying only that he would sign the bill if it reached his desk. This time, he wielded his considerable influence to shake out some votes and generally promote the issue.
Key in this was securing a couple of church leaders to come out in favor of the bill. It wasn’t that their churches were going to be conducting any gay-marriage services, but they felt that was their right and others had their own rights to pursue the issue. (Another difference between last year’s bill and this year’s bill was a strengthening of protections for churches so they wouldn’t be sued or forced to conduct services that they regarded as sinful. I believe the wording was made similar to the bill that passed in New York.)
Unfortunately, these few churches are in the minority; the rest seem to be massing for a full-on assault to overturn the law in the referendum. The black and Catholic churches are spearheading the movement.
This is where it gets ugly. The advertising blitz here is going to be off the charts. With this being a presidential election coming up, and with our black President running for re-election, turnout is expected to be large in the metro-Baltimore area. While that’s good for the President’s odds of carrying Maryland, it’s bad news for the gay marriage. Historically, the black, church-going voters will vote against any gay marriage law. I’m just hopeful that some more reasonable pastors and church leaders will step forward and accept the idea that others who don’t ascribe to those particular churches, should be allowed to pursue their own happiness.
As I’ve often said here in the past, I don’t see how gay people getting married “over there” has any impact on what happens “over here.” The churches are permitted to continue discriminating against gay couples and the gay couples are permitted to attend other churches that accept them. Win/win, so what’s the problem?
The problem is with the people that aren’t happy unless everyone else looks, acts and thinks just like they do. Is it really that hard to just mind your own damn business? There are gay people living and loving together no matter what happens. Is their “title” really going to affect other people’s lives?
I further maintain that human rights should never be put to public vote. If that were necessary in the 1960’s, we would never have gotten the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in effect across the country. Human civil rights surpass mob rule.
In the United States of America, it is freedom for all, not freedom for some. Opponents continue to bring up ridiculous red herrings, selective biblical references and ludicrous slippery slope arguments but none pass the smell test. All one has to do is look at the states that already have same-sex marriage. Are they falling apart? Is there panic in the streets? Are “The Children” being given lessons on how to have gay sex?
Nope. Nothing’s happening, except that now there are a few more people with strong, legal bonds and the rights that go with them.