This evening, the Maryland House of Delegates, after many starts and stops, after many unstatesmanlike attempts to thwart debate, finally voted and passed a same-sex marriage bill, by a margin of 71-67. Last Friday, two different House committees heard testimony from hundreds of citizens and lawmakers on both a same-sex marriage bill, which the House today debated, and a ban on same-sex marriage to be written into the Maryland constitution, which was rejected.
Debate on both procedure and politics, content and intent, was contentious.
The final debate on what was officially called the Civil Marriage Protection Act lasted just under two hours.
The Senate, which passed last year a same-sex marriage bill, will need to schedule debate and a vote. In late January, a Senate committee voted to send a same-sex marriage bill to the floor.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, supports the same-sex marriage bill and will sign it if the Senate passes it.
During today’s almost four total hours of debate, some beautiful and eloquent speeches in favor of marriage equality were made, through many harsh and ignorant criticisms of same-sex marriage were hurled — few if any having any basis in actual law. Every Maryland House Delegate who spoke against same-sex marriage equality cited religion as the basis for their “red,” or no, vote.
One Maryland Delegate who supported the bill, Del. Maggie McIntosh, who happens to be a lesbian, explained some of her own struggles without equal rights, and pointed to and thanked a younger generation for not being willing to “forfeit” marriage.
“I had to forfeit a lot of things many of us take for granted to be honest with myself. And I did,” McIntosh stated, adding, “We should extend to all families and to same-sex loving couples, the ability to marry.”
Del. Ron George was not as eloquent, and delivered what amounted to a slanted lesson in human biology to the House: “The differences between the male and female brain have been shown to be complimentary,” George said, adding, “Oxytocin levels are highest for men during climax.”
Del. Afzali was among the many who offered skewed religious arguments. “In our church [same-sex marriage] has caused so much division that we have asked our elected officials to not let it pass,” Afzali stated, and added, “Think about churches and the pressure it will place on them if this passes.”
(Last we checked, churches didn’t pay taxes, people did, same-sex couples did.)
Del. McDermott: “Why would you touch something that God made? Why would you put your hands on it, as if we know better than God himself.”
Ultimately, it is highly likely that the bill will go to a voter referendum, given the low number of signatures that would be required to place the marriage equality bill on the ballot in November.
Stay tuned – more details to come.
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