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Posted at 6:13 PM ET, 03/10/2011

Md. House considering amendment that would send same-sex marriage bill back to Senate

By John Wagner

In a sign of how close the vote count on same-sex marriage remains in the House of Delegates, leaders of the chamber are considering allowing a "friendly" amendment Friday in hopes of courting one more supporter.

The amendment, sought by Del. John A. Olszewski Jr. (D-Baltimore County), would tweak language intended to provide protections to religious organizations whose beliefs are not compatible with same-sex marriage.

Accepting the amendment would be a departure for House leaders, who have sought to resist all amendments to the bill.

Passing the legislation in the same form as it was when it cleared the Senate two weeks ago would allow the House to send the bill directly to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). Sending the bill back to the Senate could complicate its path in the remaining weeks of the 90-day session.

The House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the same-sex marriage bill, discussed Olszewski's amendment Thursday afternoon and plans to meet Friday before the House floor session to decide whether to recommend that their colleagues in the 141-member chamber accept it.

A final vote on the legislation is expected later Friday.

As it stands, the bill says that religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage are not required to engage in a range of activities related to "the promotion of marriage, through religious programs, counseling, educational courses, summer camps, and retreats, in violation of the entity's religious beliefs."

Olszewski's amendment would cut the specific examples contained in the provision, in hopes of broadening the intended protections.

By John Wagner  | March 10, 2011; 6:13 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly, John Wagner, Same-Sex Marriage  
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It should be the same-sex 'marriage' proponents who seek exemptions, not those who are upholding the natural law principle of marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

It was Abe Lincoln who pointed out that no law can give us the right to do what is wrong.

No one should ever have to be exempted from a bad law in order to do what is right.
Recognition of the natural law principles of marriage and procreation is as impartial as recognition of the natural laws of science.

Certainly no radically new ideological agenda can alter what Professor Leon Kass calls "the deep natural facts of begetting".

Professor Kass, one of the world's leading authorities on the natural and sociological anthropology of sexual reproduction, discerns that human societies virtually everywhere have structured child-rearing responsibilities and systems of identity and relationship on the bases of the deep natural facts of begetting. "The mysterious yet ubiquitous love of one's own is everywhere culturally exploited to make sure that children are not just produced but cared for and to create for everyone clear ties of meaning, belonging and obligation." Such naturally rooted social practices, he says, must not be treated as mere cultural constructs that we can alter with little human cost.

Certainly we should not have to seek exemptions in order to uphold protections for marriage and children.

Posted by: ritaJ2 | March 10, 2011 7:02 PM | Report abuse

I see there are still fools out here who believe that marriage is an instinct. BTW ... A. Lincoln freed the slaves.

Posted by: localgoober | March 10, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

"Certainly we should not have to seek exemptions in order to uphold protections for marriage and children."

Well, what about marriages which don't produce children? If marriage is about procreation, then shouldn't we disallow a man and woman from getting married if they are biologically incapable of having children (age, medical condition) or say they have no desire to have children?

Marriage is no more a "natural" law than the law that prohibited me from drinking alcohol until I turned 21. "Natural" law vis-a-vis procreation is for a man to impregnate as many women as he can because it is our "natural" urge to propagate the species.

The concept of marriage is a social construct which arose due to the complications of inheritance before the invention of the paternity test. Before the paternity test, there was no way to definitively prove who the father of a child was - even blood types could only narrow the field, not eliminate it. Given that the vast majority of civilizations in history provided for inheritance of wealth and land by heirs to the father, marriage provided a modicum of assurance that the children of the mother were also the children of the father.

The connection between marriage and inheritance carries through to societal mores today. Look at the term 'illegitimate'. Why would a child be 'legitimate' or 'illegitimate'? The term only makes sense in reference to inheritance. If the child was born to the wife of a man, then that child has a 'legitimate' claim to inherit the wealth and property of his/her parents.

How about the fact that there is a greater social stigma attached to an unfaithful wife than an unfaithful husband? Why would it matter more if the unfaithful spouse was the wife? Well, if she gets pregnant from her lover, then the husband is not the father - meaning the father may be passing on an inheritance (and possibly a nobility title) to a child not his own - an important fact in Western civilization given that, historically, the husband controlled the family wealth and land.

Such needs for assurance of parentage no longer exist in a country with relatively inexpensive paternity tests. As for the mother + father = best argument, several studies have shown there is no negative outcome to children being raised by two loving parents of the same gender, if memory serves. I see no need to 'protect' the construct of marriage for procreational purposes.

I also see no need to be sensitive to the religious beliefs of others vis-a-vis marriage. A marriage is a secular institution as well as a religious one. To be married in the eyes of the United States federal and state governments my wife and I need a marriage license from a state. Without that license my wife and I lose a laundry list of rights which cannot be conferred by any amount of notarized declarations. I'll happily support a national referendum to rename all marriages 'civil unions' and leave marriage to the religious ceremonies of a church.

Posted by: SeaTigr | March 10, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

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