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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 02/ 2/2011

GOP senator announces support for Md. same-sex marriage bill

By John Wagner

Kittleman mug.jpgSen. Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard) formally announced his support Wednesday morning for legislation that would allow same-sex marriages in Maryland, saying he would vote for the bill "because of my firm belief in equal rights."

With the announcement, Kittleman became the first -- and will probably be the only -- Senate Republican to back one of the most high-profile bills of the 90-day session. When the full chamber considers the bill in coming weeks, the vote is expected to be very close.

Kittleman said he plans to testify next week at a scheduled hearing on the bill.

In addressing reporters and in a statement, Kittleman referenced his late father, former state Sen. Robert H. Kittleman (R-Howard).

"I was raised by a gentleman who joined with others in fighting racial discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s," Kittleman said. "Watching him fight for civil rights instilled in me the belief that everyone, regardless of race, sex, national origin or sexual orientation, is entitled to equal rights."

Kittleman said that he is a "strong follower of Jesus Christ" and belongs to a conservative church, but added: "I really believe as a legislator, I don't vote based on my faith."

Kittleman had previously announced he would introduce legislation allowing civil unions between same-sex and heterosexual couples. He said Wednesday that he would not submit the bill for consideration.

While he received a lot of positive feedback from the community on the civil unions legislation, Kittleman said, "I have not gotten support from a lot of legislators."

Kittleman's complete statement is below.

STATEMENT BY SENATOR ALLAN H. KITTLEMAN ON SENATE BILL 116

I want to express my thoughts on SB 116, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. As most of you know, I have long supported equal rights for same sex couples. A few years ago, I voted in favor of allowing same sex couples the right to make medical decisions for each other.

This year, I decided to work on legislation that allowed civil unions for all couples - opposite sex and same sex couples. My goal was three-fold:

1. I wanted to ensure that same sex couples had the same rights and responsibilities as married couples in Maryland;

2. I wanted to remove the government's intervention in what most Marylanders consider a religious institution (marriage); and

3. I wanted to develop a consensus on an issue that has been very divisive for many years.

In early January, I announced my proposal for civil unions for all couples. Somewhat surprisingly, I received much more criticism from people who wanted same sex marriage than those who oppose such marriages. I actually received quite a lot of messages and emails from Republicans supporting my decision.

A recent poll performed by Gonzales Research confirmed strong support for civil unions. The poll found that 62% of Maryland voters support civil unions. Of that amount, 73% of Democrats, 60% of Independents and 41.5% of Republicans support civil unions. This figure was higher than the support for same-sex marriage in Maryland.

According to the poll, 51% of Maryland voters support same-sex marriage. Of that amount, 65% of Democrats, 52.4% of Independents and 24% of Republicans support same-sex marriage.

Unfortunately, despite the support by a strong majority of Maryland voters, I did not receive any support from my Republican and Democrat senate colleagues. In fact, the Republican senate caucus yesterday voted to take a "caucus position" against same-sex marriage. My Republican colleagues have also made it very clear to me that they would not be supportive of my civil union legislation. I also did not receive any support from Republicans or Democrats in the House of Delegates.

Based upon the lack of support I have received for my civil union bill, it was evident that my legislation would not receive a favorable report from the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. With the deadline for submitting legislation approaching quickly and with the Committee hearing scheduled to be held on Tuesday, February 8th, I made the decision to forego my efforts to have civil unions for all couples in Maryland.

As I noted above, my primary goal has always been to ensure that same sex couples have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples currently have in Maryland. I see this issue as a civil rights issue. I was raised by a gentleman who joined with others in fighting racial discrimination in the 1950s and 1960s. Watching him fight for civil rights instilled in me the belief that everyone, regardless of race, sex, national origin or sexual orientation, is entitled to equal rights.

Consequently, with the civil union legislation no longer being a viable option, I was put in the position of deciding whether to support same-sex marriage or voting to continue the prohibition against same-sex marriage. As a strong proponent of personal and economic liberty/freedom, I simply could not, in good conscience, vote against SB 116.

I know that some may contend that since the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, Maryland should continue to prohibit same sex marriage. First, let me state that I am a strong follower of Jesus Christ. I worked in youth ministries for many years. However, while my faith may teach that marriage is between a man and a woman, our government is not a theocracy. As the state senator from District 9, I represent everyone in my district, regardless of their faith. Therefore, while my spiritual life is extremely important to me, it cannot be the sole basis for my decisions as a state senator.

I know that some will be upset with my decision to support SB 116 and I respect the fact that people have differing opinions on this issue. I carefully considered my decision. I sought counsel from many people, including my family, clergy, advocates for both sides, fellow legislators and many others. These discussions were very helpful to me and I appreciate the time that those individuals took to talk with me. Ultimately, it was my strong feelings about civil rights that led me to decide to support SB 116.

By John Wagner  | February 2, 2011; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly, John Wagner, Republican Party, Same-Sex Marriage  
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Comments

This guy needs a metal.

Posted by: volerum1 | February 2, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I've known Allan for two decades now, and this is very consistent with both his moral integrity and his sense of fairness and justice. You could not have a more conscientious voice representing the people of Howard and Carroll Counties.

I am behind you 100%!

Posted by: tom.yeatts | February 2, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm an independent and support Senator Kittleman on this issue. It takes courage to stand up for what is right. He points out the hypocrisy of conservatives who say they 'love the sinner, hate the sin.' If anyone of them loved their gay or lesbian neighbor, they would have supported his civil unions bill. Good man.

Posted by: Abe2 | February 2, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Bovine excrement! How DARE this so-called "representative" misrepresent the people who elected him so dismissively! The voters of this country DO NOT support gay "marriage." In every state where they have been allowed to vote on this issue, they have said a very loud and very clear NO. What part of "NO" does Kettleman not understand? I guess that NO will be the one he hears when he tries to even THINK about running for re-election or for any other elected office after this nonsense. He needs to step back and ask himself what the voters of this district and his state really want for their state, which is to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. How DARE he treat the voters of this state so dismissively!

And please don't give me this garbage about so-called support for "civil rights." The only reason Kettleman supports this bill is because of the money and influence of large, wealthy gay activist groups that will be promised if not alrealdy behind him if he votes this way. I'm sick and tired of so-called "Republicans" being bought off like this!

He needs to understand more clearly the message of the last election results, which were an overwhelming repudiation of the gay agenda, not only the president's economic agenda. And he needs to start truly representing the voters who elected him, not turning his back on them.

Posted by: klgrube | February 2, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Dear Karen Grube,

The majority of Marylanders do approve of Marriage Equality. Don't you think it's really dishonest and misleading to comment that a State issue must follow what you "perceive" as the national leaning?

But let's not waste time, we know you are a homophobic bigot that demands special rights. So tell why we must cater to your religious views in a secular society?

BTW, love the tin-hat conspiracy theories! You keep spinning those NOM talking points (that will never hold up in court).

Posted by: bobbarnes | February 2, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

We applaud Kittleman and his courage to do the right thing. Maryland is rich in diversity, we don't let superstitions and outdated bigotries scar the "Free State."

And to klgrube, your post is full of anger and ugliness. You should consider professional help. We don't let bigots define what civil rights are. The conservatives fought it in the 50s and 60s by demonizing the minority, much hasn't changed.

Posted by: jbannon85 | February 2, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"Watching him fight for civil rights instilled in me the belief that everyone, regardless of race, sex, national origin or sexual orientation, is entitled to equal rights."

I wish every politician would have to recite this as a pledge before taking office. Politicians cannot use their CHOSEN religious beliefs to dictate civil laws in our country. As Sen. Kittleman said, "Our country is not a theocracy."

To klgrube: Do I get to vote on your marriage? No? They why can you vote on mine? How does my same-sex marriage (that I got in California two years ago) effect your life? The ONLY gay agenda is EQUALITY. Equal civil rights. The same rights that you already have. Considering how heterosexuals have made a mockery out of marriage -- 50% divorce rate, Tiger Woods, Rush Limbaugh's 4th marriage, Gov. Sanford, Sen. Craig, etc. -- I find your sanctimonious diatribe to be laughable.

By the way, the MAJORITY of citizens didn't want interracial marriage to be legal. It took the U.S. Supreme Court to nullify all the state bans. Was the court wrong to override the "will of the people" 50 years ago? According to you, the majority is always right when it comes to civil rights issues. Historically, the majority has NEVER supported the expansion of civil rights for minorities. Animus towards gay people (homophobia) is NOT a legal reason to discriminate against them. Enjoy your bigotry... but leave it out of our legal system.

Posted by: obtusegoose | February 2, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Like Sen. Allan H. Kittleman, I am a Christian, and I am frequently horrified, ashamed and saddened by the maliciousness of other Christians in the name of God. It is one thing to disagree with another's beliefs or lifestyle, it is quite another to viciously attack them, seeking to deny them fair and equal treatment under law.

When it comes to marriage, the state issues the license, so in that respect, it is civil matter. It is, however, those involved in the ceremony that give marriage its meaning. That meaning will vary depending on the beliefs & traditions of each couple. For example, not all heterosexual couples who marry have Christian values about marriage; some have beliefs from others faiths, organized or not, others no faith at all. If all these other types of marriage have posed no threat to the "sanctity of Christian marriage," how can the marrying of two men or two women?

This has not, in fact, been the case in any of the jurisdictions that have legalized gay marriage. In Canada, faiths who find homosexuality offensive are not forced to perform ceremonies. Weddings are performed by ministers of inclusive faiths or by a justice of the peace. In that respect, gay marriage has had no effect on those religious institutions who oppose it. It simply exists alongside of it, usually at quite a distance.

From a social perspective, the inclusion of gay and lesbian people is an expansion of the institution of marriage, not it's destruction. It is obvious that the United States already practices marriage in an inclusive way in respect to faith, culture, race, even citizenship. There seems no reason, beyond bigotry, not to expand the civil rights of marriage to gay and lesbian people and let them find what meaning in it they will.

Posted by: AdamKW | February 3, 2011 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Government has no place nosing it's way into people's homes and bedrooms. I am sick of religious fanatics trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else. They want to take rights for themselves that they don't want to share with anyone different.

Sen. Kittleman's position on this issue is admirably conservative. Other people who want to call themselves conservative would do well to heed his example.

Posted by: Nymous | February 3, 2011 9:38 AM | Report abuse

If I was in Sen Kittleman's district, I'd keep him in office.

Posted by: Falling4Ever | February 3, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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