Maryland House committees hear same-sex marriage arguments


ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Two committees of the Maryland House of Delegates on Friday began hearing arguments on two separate measures regarding gay marriage — one to legalize same-sex marriage, and another that would create a constitutional amendment to ban, same-sex marriage.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) appearing before the House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations Committees Friday afternoon, testified that his bill to legalize same-sex marriage offers more protection to religious freedoms than any other same-sex marriage proposal in the country.

The Governor told lawmakers that legalizing same-sex marriage would not only grant necessary legal and financial protections for gay and lesbian couples, but do the same for children of gay couples, giving them parity with children of heterosexual, married couples.

Responding to questions from Republican Delegate Neil Parrott (R), O’Malley said his bill would adequately protect religious freedoms of people who oppose same-sex marriage.

Parrott asked the governor to consider amending the bill to create specific protections for teachers, students and parents who worry that theories about gay marriage would be taught in schools, to which O’Malley responded that he opposes anything that violates religious freedoms.

Last year, the state Senate approved legislation to allow same-sex marriage, but the bill stalled in the House when some lawmakers retracted their support over religious and family values concerns.

Political observers said the second measure — a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman — is not expected to pass.

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