Gay Marriage Debate Comes to Annapolis
[The following posting comes from Washington Post Staff Writer Lisa Rein, who covers Maryland politics.]
A new caucus is being born in the Maryland General Assembly: The Marriage Protection Caucus.
Opponents of gay marriage gathered in the House Office Building this morning to discuss strategy with a leader of the Alliance for Marriage, a Washington-based group that supports a federal Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
With no action by Congress on this issue, the Alliance is now turning to state legislatures across the country to organize sympathetic lawmakers.
Why Maryland? A pending case in the state's highest court, which is being urged by nine same-sex couples and a gay man to toss out the state's gay marriage ban.
"Maryland is a big blip on the radar screen," Bob Adams of the Alliance told a group of nine lawmakers and aides. "It's very close to Washington. A decision will have national fallout."
The Court of Appeals could rule at any time, but lawmakers don't expect a decision during the current legislative session. Nevertheless, should the court could throw out Maryland's ban and leave it to the General Assembly to decide whether gay unions should be called marriage or be recognized by another name, opponents are preparing to fight.
"Absolutely, we're concerned about what the court might do," said Del. Gail H. Bates (R-Howard), who is organizing the new caucus. She said she believes that marriage "should never be ordained by man anyway" but by God.
Last year, New Jersey's highest court ordered the state legislature to create a law to provide the same full rights and benefits to same-sex couples as opposite-sex ones. It took effect in January.
One of those in attendance this morning was Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery), who is openly gay and wondered what efforts the caucus might make to strengthen marriage in general, whether gay or straight. "I do think there could be a value in using a caucus to promote family-friendly issues," she told the group.
But it was clear the caucus' priority is fighting gay marriage. "Let's call it for what it is,"Mizeur said afterwards. "The anti-gay caucus."
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