Bill seeks to thwart Maryland marriage recongition
With LGBT activists planning to reintroduce a bill that could legalize marriage for same-sex couples in Maryland, their opponents continue to try to block their efforts.
Delegate Emmett Burns [D-Baltimore County] introduced House Bill 90 last week. If passed, the bill would invalidate the recognition of the out of state marriage licenses of same-sex couples in the Free State. Burns recently appeared on WYPR’s Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast to discuss his opposition of marriage for gays and lesbians.
"Same-sex marriages are bad economic policy, bad social policy, bad educational policy-it’s just bad policy," he said.
On the coattails of Equality Maryland’s annual Lobby Day, the bill threatens the ambitions of LGBT activists to reintroduce a measure that would allow same-sex couples to marry. Delegate Heather Mizeur [D-Montgomery County] told EDGE, however, she does not believe HB 90 has enough support to pass through the Judiciary Committee based on what she saw at last week’s hearing.
"There is no room for discrimination in Maryland’s policies," she said. "There are two ways that we can make this equal for everyone. Either we give all couples in Maryland the same rights to marriage and the protections that come with it, or we take those rights away from everyone. Personally, I’d prefer the former."
Mizeur and her wife Deborah exchanged vows in Pasadena in 2005; confident that the state would soon recognize the unions of gays and lesbians. The couple legally married in Napa Valley three years later after the California Supreme Court (temporarily) lifted the ban on marriage for gays and lesbians in the Golden State.
"It hits close to home for me because I would like Maryland to recognize the marriage that I have in California," Mizeur said. "It’s crazy to think that when we are in California, Deborah is my legal spouse but 2,000 miles away in Pasadena she is legally a stranger."
In response to Burn’s comments, Equality Maryland released a statement that claimed the state would actually receive three million dollars in annual tax revenue if lawmakers allowed same-sex couples to marry. Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, added these ceremonies would generate an estimated $94 million each year; providing a major boost to the state’s economy.
"Treating same-sex couples as families under law would save taxpayers money by allowing same-sex partners to assume legal responsibility for their joint living expenses thus reducing their dependence on public programs," she told EDGE. "But there are also real people behind this. The institution of marriage is not static-it has changed significantly over time. Allowing committed same-sex couples to marry will modify the institution of marriage, but will not undermine it."
Meneses-Sheets attended the HB 90 hearing. And she noted the number of marriage supporters greatly outnumbered opponents. Meneses-Sheets added a number of ordained ministers and nationally recognized attorneys spoke in favor of marriage, and she expects to see an even greater turnout at Lobby Day.
"We are on track to have a very large turnout," Meneses-Sheets said. "People are not only enraged by some of the statements made by Delegate Burn, but are also quite hopeful given recent progress locally with the win in [Washington, D.C] and inspired by the hard work that Equality Maryland has been doing to really tell the stories of Maryland’s LGBT community. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are truly on the cusp of enacting true and lasting equality."