Maryland AG: Marriage Equality Bill Will Pass in 2012
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Tuesday, Oct. 25, predicted a marriage equality bill will pass in the state Legislature next year.
"This year we'll pass same-sex marriage," said Gansler during a speech at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., that coincided with the release of a new report on the impact of social and legal inequalities on children with LGBT parents.
A marriage equality bill stalled in the House of Delegates earlier this year, but Gansler said the measure is "something we desperately need" because the lack of nuptials for same-sex couples violates due process.
"It violates equal protection and everybody in this country should have the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness," he said.
The Maryland Court of Appeals in Sept. 2007 ruled against eight same-sex couples and a gay widow who had sought the right to marry in the Free State. Gansler issued a 45-page opinion in Feb. 2010 that directed the state to recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed in other jurisdictions.
"Maryland is one of those states that was very strange in that area because we have a statute which I believe to be unconstitutional in terms of equal protection or due process which says marriage is a between a man," he noted. "That will change the next time it goes to the Court of Appeals. However, we were one of the six states that was silent as to what we are going to do in terms of recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages."
Governor Martin O'Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the Baltimore NAACP and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo are among those who have publicly backed marriage for same-sex couples. Recent polls show that nearly 50 percent of Marylanders back marriage equality; but a significant percentage of the state's black, Catholic and Republican voters continue to oppose the issue.
Gansler warned that lawmakers could seek a referendum in 2012 if Annapolis lawmakers approve a marriage equality bill. "As a public policy matter, what we are trying to do is enhance the family unit," he said. "We talk about it all the time-we give tax relief to people that are families. Many of our laws are designed around the notion of positive families being a positive thing and a good thing for our society. That's what we're talking about here. Once we give same-sex recognition to marriage, then I think we can advance the goal a long, long way."