Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Maryland Marriage Equality Bill hits the state Senate


The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, SB 116, which passed out of committee on a vote of 7-4 was introduced to the full state Senate this morning. This bill would legalize marriage equality in the state of Maryland.

State Senator Robert Garagiola introduced the measure and in doing so emphasized that religious institutions would not be required to recognize these relationships:

"Under the terms of the Act, an official of a religious institution or body who is authorized to solemnize marriages, may not be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, or Article 36 of our Constitution. As amended, the bill also provides that a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit operated by one, may not be required to provide services accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if the request is related to the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of marriage that is in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs."

Debate is scheduled to occur Wednesday. Reports are that there are 24 votes, the necessary number, to pass the bill. From there the bill heads to the house of delegates where it's expected to pass.

Governor Martin O'Malley has indicated he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
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