Marriage equality legislation making progress in Maryland

by Maureen Fiedler

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The latest reports from Annapolis (the Maryland state capital) are promising. Legislation legalizing same sex marriage is gaining support by the day. The House of Delegates already has a majority on board, and the Maryland Senate is inching closer. If it passes, Governor Martin O’Malley has said he will sign the legislation.

Today, the Washington Post published an editorial urging Maryland to live up to its moniker, “The Free State,” by approving marriage equality.

I found some of The Post’s revelations especially interesting. It seems that the homophobic speech and false arguments touted by some opponents are turning skeptics into supporters. According to The Post, “several formerly undecided lawmakers have listened to the arguments of opponents - and recoiled at the vitriol they heard. State Sen. James Brochin, a Baltimore County Democrat who previously backed same-sex civil unions but not marriage, changed his mind after taking in what he called the "appalling" views of opponents at a Senate hearing. 'Witness after witness demonized homosexuals, vilified the gay community and described gays and lesbians as pedophiles,' he said in a statement …”

Sadly, the Maryland Catholic Conference opposes the legislation. But New Ways Ministry, a group favoring a “positive Catholic approach” to marriage equality, is holding a conference on Saturday, Feb. 19, to lay out the strong arguments in favor of the pending legislation.

However, even if marriage equality becomes law, opponents can force a public referendum on the issue. That is, by any measure, a tougher struggle. But maybe, just maybe, too much vitriol from opponents can turn off voters as surely as it has turned off state legislators.

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