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March 9. 2012

Maryland governor signs marriage equality law

Annapolis, Md.--March came into the state capital like a lion. The roar was the cheer of the crowd watching as Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the state’s law legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland.

“For a free and diverse people, for a people of many faiths, for a people committed to the principle of religious freedom, the way forward is always to be found through greater respect for the equal rights of all, for the human dignity of all,” O’Malley said. “Religious freedom was the very reason for our state’s founding. At the heart of religious freedom is the freedom of individual conscience.”

“If there is a thread that unites the story of our people, it is the thread of human dignity, the dignity of work, the dignity of family, the dignity of every child’s home, the dignity of every individual,” he continued. “We are one Maryland, and all of us, at the end of the day, want the same thing for our children: to live in a loving, stable, committed home protected equally under the law.”

A reception open to the public followed at the governor’s mansion.

Opponents of marriage equality have filed paperwork to begin the referendum process. They are attempting to get repeal on the November ballot. If they fail, the marriage law goes into effect in 2013.

The will need to get 56,000 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Behind the effort is the Maryland Catholic Conference,, spearheaded by Del. Neil Parrott, and the Maryland Marriage Alliance, comprised primarily of black ministers.

Polling in the state has shown a starkly divided populace, with 50 percent supporting marriage equality and 44 percent opposed.

Maryland is the third state this year whose legislature has passed a marriage equality bill. Washington’s was signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire, while New Jersey’s was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, who said he thought the matter should be put on the ballot for the people of New Jersey to decide.

With the marriage bill passed, the legislature is now turning its attention to a bill that would add gender identity and expression to state anti-discrimination laws. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on the bill on February 28. A similar bill passed the House of Delegates last year but died in the state senate. This year’s iteration prohibits discrimination in housing and employment, like last session’s bill, but also adds public accommodations.








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