Maryland Governor says marriage bill brings dignity, religious freedom


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — At a gathering on the steps of the governor’s residence in Annapolis, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Tuesday called on the state’s residents and lawmakers to join him in supporting his newly drafted same-sex marriage bill.

Martin O’Malley. (Washington Blade photo by Pete Exis.)

With about 50 supporters of the bill standing behind him, including same-sex couples, clergy members, and state labor leaders, O’Malley said the bill provides a proper balance between “equal protection under the law” and “religious freedom.”

His remarks came on the day after he officially introduced the Civil Marriage Protection Act into the Maryland General Assembly and minutes after he hosted a breakfast in the governor’s residence for representatives of the coalition of organizations and clergy backing the bill.

“There is a broad coalition, and many are arrayed on the steps here with me, and they are all supportive of the bill I introduced last night on civil marriage equality in the state of Maryland,” he said.

“All of us want the same thing for our children. Marylanders of different religious beliefs, Marylanders of all walks of life all want the same thing for our children. We want our children to live in loving, stable, committed households that are protected equally under the law,” he said.

Anticipating what political observers in the state capital expect to be an aggressive campaign to oppose the bill by religious groups, including leaders the Catholic Archdiocese of Maryland, O’Malley stressed that his bill provides expanded protections for religious institutions and people of faith.

“We also believe that we can protect religious freedom and rights equally under the law,” he said. “Other states have found a way to do this. We can find a way to do this too. And that common ground that allows us to move forward is dignity — the human dignity of every single person,” he said.

Among those who spoke at the gathering in addition to O’Malley were Rev. Starlene Joyner Burns, founder of a Christian ministry in Bowie, Md.; Ezekiel Jackson, an official with the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 of Maryland; and State Senator Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County, one of seven out gay members of the General Assembly.

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