Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Maryland Has the 24 Votes Needed to Pass Marriage Equality Bill

Marriage Equality USA logoImage via WikipediaIn a Valentine's Day gift to it's LGBT citizens, two Maryland lawmakers said yesterday that they will vote in support of legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in The Free State. The bill now has the 24 votes needed to pass the state senate.

The Washington Post reports:
A prominent Maryland state senator said Monday that he will support legalizing same-sex marriage, bringing the bill to within one vote of the number needed for passage in his chamber.

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Baltimore County) said in an interview that he saw "no reason to deny the right" to gay couples to marry. Kasemeyer, chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said his view was long held but that he had chosen to wait to share it publicly. His district also includes part of Howard County.
 Before Kasemeyer made his statement Monday, the legislation had 22 backers. By 4:30 Monday afternoon, another prominent Maryland lawmaker had also declared her support:
Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-Baltimore County) just said in an interview that she, too, plans to vote for the same-sex marriage bill. Her support would create the 24 votes needed for passage in the Senate.
Sen. Joan Conway (D-Baltimore), who, along with three other Maryland senators, has been on the fence, said recently that she would support the bill if she thought it had a chance of passing.

Way to show leadership, Joan! Thanks for you support and all, but how hard is it to do the right thing, not because it's popular, but because the right thing to do?

In a related story, Equality Maryland, GetEqual and the group Marriage Equality USA staged an event on the grounds of the Maryland Statehouse on Monday. From the Equality Maryland press release:
ANNAPOLIS, M.D., February 14, 2011 - Today, hundreds gathered at Lawyers Mall in front of the statehouse in support of gender identity anti-discrimination and marriage equality.

The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (SB116/HB175) would end the exclusion of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage in Maryland.  The Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act (HB235) would prohibit discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of employment, housing and credit.

Lead sponsors Sen. Rob Garagiola (District 15), Delegate Kumar Barve (District 17), Del. Ariana Kelly (District 16) and Attorney General Doug Gansler shared their thoughts and rallied support for the civil marriage and gender identity anti-discrimination bills.  They were joined by the Campaign manager for the "Standing on the Side of Love" campaign, Dan Furmansky, along with clergy, community leaders, coalition partners and families.

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