MARRIAGE DIGEST: Debate over 'gay marriage,' civil unions just beginning in Md.
Posted on Oct 26, 2007 | by Michael Foust
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (BP)--Despite a favorable court ruling for conservatives, the debate over "gay marriage" in Maryland apparently is far from over.
Several Democrats, including state Sen. Gwendolyn Britt and Del. Victor Ramirez, say they will sponsor bills that would legalize "gay marriage" when the General Assembly meets against next year, the Montgomery County Sentinel reported. Their action comes after the Maryland Court of Appeals -- the highest court in the state -- refused in a September 4-3 decision to legalize "gay marriage."
"[The court's decision] is their legacy, not ours," Ben Barnes, a Democratic delegate who supports such a bill, told The Capital newspaper in Annapolis. "The court failed to act with courage and conviction and it absolutely opens up an opportunity to act."
The good news for Christian conservatives is that Senate President Mike Miller, a Democrat, opposes both "gay marriage" and Vermont-style civil unions, which grant homosexual couples the legal benefits of marriage, minus the name.
The bad news, though, is that Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democratic House Speaker Michael E. Busch support civil unions. O'Malley is planning to meet in the coming weeks with Equality Maryland, a homosexual activist organization.
"[Mr. O'Malley] will advocate for civil unions bill ... [so] all Marylanders are treated equally under Maryland state law," spokesman Rick Abbruzzese told The Capital.
Democrats control both chambers.
Meanwhile, Republican Del. Don Dwyer says he will file a constitutional amendment protecting the natural definition of marriage. The amendment -- which would go to voters if passed by legislators -- would prohibit both "gay marriage" and civil unions.
"This issue is so important, the people of the state have to be able to vote on it," Dwyer was quoted as saying in The Capital.
Legalized same-sex unions in any form would impact what children are taught about families in schools, he said.
"It shouldn't be taught to the children of my constituents in a public setting," he said.
CORZINE FOR 'GAY MARRIAGE' -- New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, told reporters for homosexual publications Sept. 9 that if a "gay marriage" bill reached his desk, he would sign it, the Gay City News reported. Nevertheless, Corzine isn't rushing to get the legislature to act -- particularly with a presidential election approaching in 2008.
"I don't think I'd like to see this debated in a presidential election year," Corzine said. "It's an incitement to people who will make policies on a whole broad range of issues that will keep the status quo."
He added, "I think we can move very quickly here, but I think we ought to do it in a way, by the way, that doesn't cause setbacks everywhere else in the country, that doesn't make it a tool for people who I believe start unjust wars or try to take away children's health insurance or aren't committed to enforcing hate crimes laws and all kinds of other things."
Telling the reporters, "I hope you know I'm on our side," Corzine -- who just last December signed a bill legalizing civil unions -- said he thought the state legislature could debate the issue of marriage in 2009.
His comments came at an informal gathering of the New York chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
"I think we're in the process of evolution," he said. "I don't know whether it's three years or five years, but in some time frame in the not so distant future I suspect that New Jersey will embrace the moniker of gay marriage or same-sex marriage."
AROUND THE WORLD -- Sweden's three opposition parties introduced a "gay marriage" bill in early October, moving that country one step closer to redefining marriage, 365Gay reported. The parties -- the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party -- may have the votes now to pass such a bill, particularly since a considerable number of members of two of the governing parties (the Center and Liberal parties) support it.
In Australia, the government of Prime Minister John Howard, a vocal opponent of "gay marriage," could be headed to defeat in the Nov. 24 general election. The latest poll shows the Labour Party leading Howard's governing coalition, 58-42 percent, the Indo-Asian News Service reported. But Labour leader Kevin Rudd surprised many Oct. 23 when he said he, too, opposed "gay marriage" and would not work to change current law. Rudd would become prime minister if his party wins the election.
In Canada, a September report analyzing data from the 2006 census showed that only .12 percent of the nation's 6.1 million married couples involve same-sex couples, Reuters reported. The data is the latest information showing that when afforded the legal right to "marriage," most homosexual couples take a pass. For instance, in Massachusetts, 6,121 homosexual couples received marriage licenses from the state in the last seven and a half months of 2004, the timeframe when it was legal. But in 2005, that number dropped to 2,060, and in 2006, to 1,427.
Michael Foust is assistant editor of Baptist Press.