Marriage Equality in Maryland: An Update on Where We Stand

So what's happening in Maryland on marriage equality? The situation is about as complex as it can get at the moment, with lots of things in play, and a vote count still uncertain.

MarylandHere's what we know at the moment:

The marriage equality bill was supposed to be considered Thursday morning. It was delayed until 6 pm Thursday evening, when the legislature approved an amendment introduced by Del. Wade Kach, a Republican who had announced his support for the bill yesterday afternoon.

The Blade explains:

And in a surprise development, supporters of the Civil Marriage Protection Act agreed to accept an amendment they helped to defeat in committee earlier this week that would put off the date same-sex marriages would become legal from October of this year to January 2013 if the bill should pass.

In the committee debate, supporters of the amendment, nearly all of whom opposed the bill, said it was needed to prevent same-sex marriages from being performed in Maryland before a referendum could be held to overturn the legislation should the legislature pass it.

The amendment’s backers said they did not want a situation similar to California, where same-sex marriages were performed before voters approved Proposition 8, which overturned the state’s same-sex marriage law.

KachSaid Kach to the AP: “I want the referendum. I want the people to have the opportunity to petition the bill to referendum because I think it’s such an important decision for all Marylanders to make, not just the 188 legislators.”

Opponents would need to collect 55,736 signatures by June 30 to place the bill on the November ballot.

House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) then said that the House would resume debate on the bill at 12:30 pm Friday after the joint Judiciary Committee and Health and Government Operations Committee considered a bunch of proposed amendments to the bill.

So, debate is currently scheduled to resume on the floor of the House at 12:30 pm today. No vote has currently been scheduled.

What else is happening?

Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel County) and John Olszewski (D-Baltimore County), previously undeclared, have announced their support for the bill.

MehlmanProminent Republicans – NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman – have been lobbying for the bill, several delegates told the Baltimore Sun.

[Maryland Governor Martin] O'Malley met with Bloomberg when he was in New York City in late January for a Democratic Governors Association fundraiser. The two discussed same-sex marriage, and O'Malley's staff has stayed in touch with Bloomberg's people on the issue.

Mehlman, who is gay and who supported the New York effort to legalize same-sex marriage, phoned "several" Republican lawmakers, along with putting out calls to lawmakers in Washington state, which just passed a same-sex marriage bill, and New Jersey.

Cardinal-elect Edwin F. O'Brien is calling delegates from the Vatican as he did last year, pressuring them to oppose the bill.

Kevin Kelly, a Western Maryland Republican, also got a call from O'Brien. Kelly, a Catholic, was surprised because he's never wavered in his stance against the bill. "He just called to thank me. To thank me for standing firm," Kelly said. "It was better than a call saying that you've been excommunicated."

The delegate was tickled that the call came from the Holy See. "I've never gotten a call from the Vatican before," Kelly said. "I was impressed."

One important 'yes' vote may be in jeopardy:

Delegate Veronica Turner, D-Prince George’s, who supported the bill in committee earlier this week, said she may even miss a final vote if it is taken Friday. Turner, who is in the hospital and scheduled to have emergency surgery that day, will not be on the House floor. She would not elaborate on her health Thursday afternoon, but said that her condition was “serious.”


  1. Vincenzo says

    I really hope that this does NOT pass. There is no evidene that the people pushing are capable of defending it in a referendum. The main gay org pushing this last year declared itself insolvent and had a nasty and unprofessional fight b/t its board and its former Executive Director. None of this gives any confidence that they could run a state-wide referendum campaign.

    They should get civil unions which would pass overwhelmingly. Then use that as a bridge for full equality in a few years when they have their act together.

  2. Michael R says

    All of these states, mine included (NC), that want to make this a referendum in the year 2012 is mind boggling to say the least. I’ve been voting for over 30 years and I don’t recall ever having to cast a ballot for the right of a black and white couple to marry, or a polygamist to take more wives or a married man to have an adulteress. It’s about two people who are in a committed relationship who want the same rights and benefits as those I have mentioned. It’s called “rights” – you don’t vote on rights …

  3. Xavi says

    Oh, gee, I am so impressed with that “adamant ally” of ours, Ken Mehlman, making such valiant efforts to support the LGBT community! Wow, he “phoned ‘several’ Republican lawmakers” in MD, what a hero!

    ***major sarcasm***

    Of course, I support those that assist our efforts to win full equality, but “that man” should be doing a lot more than picking up the phone and calling legislators in MD to ensure marriage equality is ratified in Annapolis.

    I want him dedicating all his efforts, on the ground, to our cause to make up for the dreadful, hateful campaign he ran against while working for W.

    He has a lot make up for.

  4. Lucas says

    I prefer to have it defeated in the legislature now because losing with the voters in November will be such much uglier and painful. I have no idea what pro-gay groups in Maryland are doing, since it is clear the voters will decide this, and that it will lose.

  5. jpeckjr says

    Interesting how quickly the Prop 8 decision is having an impact . . . even if the date change is against us. Like they say . . . if you give some people rights, soon everyone will want them.

  6. KP says

    I am so sick of this bulls**t. I am sick of posion amendments. I am sick of Democrats taking years to “change” their minds about marriage equality. I am sick of the time and energy the Catholic Church spends on fanning anti-gay hate. I am sick of Ken Mehlmen and wish he would just go away. I am sick of having to beg, barter, coax, and plead with Republicans to get them to even think about extending to us the basic rights they take for granted every single day. I am sick of the wishy-washy Maryland House delagates and wish they would just grow a pair and vote on the issue like the Maryland Senate did. I am sick of public referendums and politicians who want the public to shoulder the burden of a civil rights vote. I am getting sick of everything at this point.

    The optimism I had at the beginning of the year is starting to disappear – between the inevitable referendum in Washington, Christie’s promised veto, and now Maryland’s dithering, it like our wins are quicking turning to losses. (Don’t even get me started on the Prop 8 case, which in the end will only effect one state. Probably shouldn’t have pinned our hopes and dreams on that one).

  7. says

    KP: That’s politics.

    I’ve been watching the repugs fan the flames of hate and collecting the resulting cash since the 60’s (that’s just their nature). I’ve been watching the dims take our money and promise us full citizenship since the 70’s, but when we help get them in the majority in state legislatures and congress and elect dim Governors and a dim President they always tell us “it’s just not the right time” and “maybe next session”. But then in the next session the repugs are in the majority or have veto power and we slip from second-class citizenship to third-class.

    The solution is to stop giving the dim party any money and telling them why. When the dims realize we’re not going to be their fools anymore they’ll magically find a way to secure our full civil rights before the next campaign season. Guaranteed. It’s all about the money.

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