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Marriage Equality is currently being debated in the Maryland State Senate. This is probably the toughest of the steps remaining to see Marriage Equality in the state of Maryland.

According to Voices @ the Washington Post, the following amendments have been dealt with this morning:

* Make it clear that religious organizations don't have to promote SSM in summer camps, education programs, etc. (Similar to clause in DC law): Passed Voice
* Fraternal Benefit Societies run by religious groups don't have offer marital benefits (Knights of Columbus is primary organization in this category, similar to VT law): Passed
* Religious Adoption Agencies don't have to provide services to same-sex couples: Failed (30-17)
* Change name of bill to "Same-Sex Marriage": Failed (28-19)
* Change name of bill from "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act." to "Civil Marriage Protection Act." Passed (26-21)
* Prohibit "Promotion" of SSM in public elementary schools: Failed (31-16)

The "Second Reader" vote was then passed 25-22 with 24D, 1R in favor and 11R, 11D opposed.

If this is filibustered, there will need to be 29 votes to close debate, but the Democratic Senate Majority Leader (who is opposed!) has said he can get the votes to close debate and the Republican Senate Minority Leader has said that there are currently no plans for a Filibuster.

If this passes, then the House will almost certainly strip one of their Marriage Equality bills already scheduled for a committee vote and replace the text with whatever the Senate passes, and unless something odd happens get it to the floor within a week or so. Everyone who has been counting noses has been more concerned about the Senate, which is why the Senate went first.

The Governor has made a general commitment to sign a Marriage Equality bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

At least at this point there haven't been any poison pill amendments that would cause much problem either in the house or with the governor.

However, don't start picking out wedding sites yet. Unlike California, this won't go into effect if enough signatures are gathered for a referendum at the next election.  I'm unclear whether it would be at the next state-wide election (which would be the 2012 primary, which is not likely to include many contested Democratic primaries) or at the 2012 General Election in November.

Originally posted to naraht on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 12:09 PM PST.

Also republished by Angry Gays and Maryland Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for the news. (6+ / 0-)

    Hopes and hugs!

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 12:15:56 PM PST

  •  Info on the potential Referendum (7+ / 0-)

    NOM will likely lead the effort, along with the Catholic Church (Baltimore is home to the oldest Catholic Church in the country) and other religious foes, mainly out of the DC area.

    According to our state constitution (http://www.msa.md.gov/...), people who want to put forth a referendum will need to obtain signatures equal to 3% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. 1/3 of these signatures must be filed with the Secretary of State before the 1st of June, and have 30 days to submit the remainder.

    NOM will need a total of 53,650 signatures (based on 2010 election numbers).

    17,883-ish signatures will need to be submitted by June 1st 2011, with the remainder by the end of the month. It will then be on the 2012 ballot.

    Since the veto referendum amendment was ratified in 1915, it has been used 13 times by citizens to force a statewide popular vote on unpopular laws passed by the legislature. In 1970, voters vetoed the legislature's bill regarding a Department of Economic and Community Development, and in 1972 and 1974, they vetoed state aid to nonpublic schools. In 1988, the legislature passed a bill banning cheap handguns, and gun control opponents responded with a petition drive that put the measure on the ballot. Despite the record-breaking expenditure by the National Rifle Association of more than $4 million for a "Vote No" campaign, voters approved the law by a 58-percent margin.

    •  Which 2012 Ballot? (5+ / 0-)

      Is it at the same time as the 2012 Primary (which is bad for marriage-equality, most of the people coming out will be trying to decide between Palin and Huckabee) or the 2012 General? It isn't clear from my reading of the constitutional link. :(

      •  I'd assume the general ballot (9+ / 0-)

        I'm basing this mainly because MD has a closed primary system. I also never recalled, in prior primaries, there being ballot questions on them. Only candidates were listed.

        If so, and marriage will be on the 2012 general election ballot, MD can easily become the first state where voters approve of marriage.

        MD is one of the most reliable Dem voting states, and Obama carried the state easily in 2008. In 2010, our current Gov. O'Malley beat Erlich by 12 points, a larger margin than O'Malley got in '06 when he beat then Gov. Erlich. And Sen. Mikulski won with her usual lopsided victories. In Annapolis, we lost 6 delegates, but gained 2 senators (those senators are viewed as key to the current marriage bill being passed).

        Maryland also increased the number of out LGBT lawmakers from 4 to 7 during the elections. I believe that also ties MD with CA and NY with the most openly gay state legislators.

        The 2012 vote in MD, IMHO, will favor marriage. Sen. Cardin will be up for reelection and many Dems in the state will be fired up to get rid of Rep. Harris (R-01) who bested Rep. Kratovil (who voted for all LGBT bills when we served).

        It will be a fight, but this time, the odds are in our favor.

        •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

          if the primaries are closed, I'd say that you are correct and it will be the General Election.  It'd be nice to have that verified of course.

        •  Hopefully the General... (0+ / 0-)

          I agree that the chances are better in the General. MD does have closed primaries (my wife is undecided so all she gets to vote on in Primaries is some schoolboard positions).

          The percentage gained and lost between the two houses was the same, 2/47 vs. 6/141. But we had the votes to spare in the house.

          It will be interesting to see where the various members of congress end up on this question. I'm sure that Van Hollen is in favor and the two Republicans against.

  •  Tiny correction (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    naraht, SSMir, sfbob

    The Senate Majority Leader, Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery County) is a sponsor of the bill.  It is  Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-Calvert and Prince George's Counties) who opposes the bill but has pledged to break any filibuster.

  •  Maryland, My Maryland, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sfbob, supercereal

    the state where I was born and raised.  I know it's a liberal bastion, but I still think it's astounding that this is happening.

    -5.13,-5.64; EVERYTHING is an approximation! -Hans A. Bethe

    by gizmo59 on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 02:46:39 PM PST

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