Two Sides Tesitify on Same-Sex Marriage
By Annapolis Noteboo
Saturday, January 26, 2008; Page B04
Democratic lawmakers introduced bills yesterday to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, casting the issue as a civil rights battle like those fought by Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt (D-Prince George's), who planned to be a lead sponsor of the effort. She died Jan. 12.
Sponsors -- including Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), Sen. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery), Del. Benjamin S. Barnes (D-Prince George's), Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) and Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery) -- said 49 lawmakers have signed on to the legislation, which would remove language in the state code that limits marriage to unions between men and women. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act would also exempt religious leaders from having to perform or recognize same-sex unions.
At a news conference, lawmakers compared their cause to the work of Britt, who was arrested for riding a segregated merry-go-round in Glen Echo Park in 1960.
Advocates shifted their quest for marriage rights to the General Assembly after Maryland's highest court upheld the state's 34-year-old ban on same-sex marriage last year.
Opponents of same-sex unions have revived bills to write the ban into the state constitution. Another bill introduced by Sen. Janet Greenip (R-Anne Arundel) would authorize "covenant marriages" in Maryland, unions between men and women who would agree to accept limited grounds for divorce.
-- Lisa Rein
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