2.02.2007

The Stakes Get Even Higher for Maryland's Same-Sex Couples

As long as Delegate Dwyer and his bigoted buddies are in the Maryland Legislature, marriage equality will continue to be threatened by constitutional amendment's attempting to ban same-sex marriage. Well, any chance to do so this year will bring with it a considerable rise in the stakes of such legislation.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the 2004 Michigan ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage also bars public employers from providing same-sex partner benefits of any kind. It is even more imperative that any same-sex marriage ban in Maryland be stopped and same-sex partner benefits from public employers must be codified and protected.

No matter your position on gay marriage, same-sex partner benefits are a necessity. The goal of these bans are to "protect traditional marriage" and though I won't debate on the merits of that position, I will posit that same-sex partner benefits, applied outside of a marriage, in no way threaten "traditional marriage". In fact, they completely leave it out of the equation.

I have argued before, along with Equality Maryland, that only full marriage rights for homosexuals should be acceptable to Maryland Democrats. But we must do something to ease the unfair burden on same-sex couples, and codifying partner benefits from public employers is a great start.

What would be unacceptable is a same-sex marriage ban that also eliminates the possibility for public institutions such as colleges to offer their employees same-sex benefits.

Want to get involved to to try and stop the same-sex marriage ban? Want to fight for same-sex partner benefits for Maryland's public employees? Equality Maryland is holding a lobbying day on the 12th, in Annapolis. Join them.

If you can't make it, be sure to write your representatives and tell them that you support equality for all Marylanders. Tell them to vote no on the same-sex marriage ban and to codify same-sex marriage benefits for state employees.

Update: Bruce Godfrey, owner of the now sprawling Crabmedia notes in his blog the importance of the coming decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals on the Deane & Polyak v. Conaway case. Lets hope the the Court of Appeals joins with Circuit Court of Baltimore City in finding that the Free State's prohibition on same-sex marriage does not withstand a constitutional challenge.

11 comments:

HeatherBartlett said...

Great post. I grow so weary of the idea that allowing people basic rights is somehow threatening "traditional marriage."

The argument has no merit whatsoever.

P. Kenneth Burns said...

Two Things:

1. As a Christian who believes that America is still a Christian nation, I think that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. If they want to do partner benefits as a way for non-married persons to have a designatee, I am all fine for that. But do not dare call it marriage. In any event, it should be put to the voters as a referrendum if our leaders cannot decide.

2. The gay marriage debate will never come to Maryland as long as Michael Busch is House Speaker. When the committee was about to vote on an actual referendum to put to the voters (predictably during the Ehrlich era,) the House was adjourned for the day before the committee could even vote on the bill to go to the full chamber.

Richard, Charles County Cafe said...

Mr. Burns - Why should the government recognize a religious institution that is not available to all Americans?

Andrew Kujan said...

1. As a Christian who believes that America is still a Christian nation, I think that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. If they want to do partner benefits as a way for non-married persons to have a designatee, I am all fine for that. But do not dare call it marriage. In any event, it should be put to the voters as a referrendum if our leaders cannot decide.

The only issue with not calling a same-sex union "marriage" is that without that label, attaining equal partner benefits and rights is much more difficult legislatively, legally, etc. Despite the moral concerns of many, there is a necessity to protect all people equally under the law. When married people receive tax breaks, shared work benefits and medical rights, they receive these benefits in order to encourage the economic success of that family. I think that homosexual couples deserve the same protections when they choose to enter into a permanent union.

One thing I do think is the wrong idea is a ballot initiative for civil rights legislation.

Bruce Godfrey said...

Mr. Burns, I am curious - if I may ask respectfully, what might your evidence be for the proposition that the United States is a "Christian nation", particularly since the word "Christian" does not appear in our Constitution or any amendment thereto?

I ask because I think that the United States is not in fact a Christian nation, but a nation that happens to have nominal and religious Christians as a statistical majority. I also don't think that the United States is a "white nation" but a nation with a Euro-American majority, though one bitterly racist uncle of mine disagrees with me on that latter point.

Rfustero said...

A words definition can change according to society's usage or at the whim of certain wordsmith.

Just as the word "gay" went from meaning happy, to developing an additional definition relating to homosexuals,.

The word marriage can also change definition by common usage-it does not need an act of congress to change the meaning.

Marriage is usally a religious rite, although many atheists do get married in non religious ceremonies.
So what defines a marriage- male and female living together, male and female having children, male and female sharing a house, bank accounts .....?

Or is it some kind of state law that certifies marriage,after all common inlaw marriages are recognized in some state, even though no license in issues- so what makes a marriage.

Procreation- how about senior citizens who get maried- do we expect them to procreate?

Marriage is obviously defined by certain Federal and State laws that have to do with benefits and rights after death.

After all anyone can assign power of attorney rights to another individual that would cover the same rights as a married couple, and any one can have a joint bank account without being married so what is the argument against gay marriage- I don't see anything logical and I really hate to see tax-payers money wasted on court cases when there are more important things in this world to waste it on.

Why cany both sides shut up get married anyway they can and let us all get a life.

Bruce Godfrey said...

That's the point, Fustero. A massive bundle of rights and privileges accompanies legal marriage, most of which are unique to legal marriage. Most states do not recognize common law marriage; Maryland will honor such a marriage if formed validly elsewhere but no one can become common law married in Maryland. Your claim that a power of attorney is equivalent to marriage is flat false.

The taxpayers' money is being wasted by no one; it is in fact being spent, but hardly wasted. I do wish that the Clerks of Court would drop their appeal but too late now. As for all of us getting a life - most of us have one, Bob, good luck on the continued search.

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