Proponents of same-sex marriage re-launched their effort on July 12 to change the legal definition of marriage in Maryland by 2012. Although members of Maryland's General Assembly do not meet until January, several lawmakers, clergy members, and civil rights leaders met in Baltimore and advocated for passage of a same-sex marriage law in the next session.
Last year a bill to change the legal definition of marriage passed the State Senate 25-21 but was later defeated in a House of Delegates committee.
Officials from the Maryland Catholic Conference praised state lawmakers then for upholding the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
In a July 12 statement, the conference noted: "Maryland lawmakers chose not to redefine marriage because they listened to their Maryland constituents and stood by their deeply-held moral convictions."
Marylanders for Marriage Equity gathered in Baltimore where Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told about 75 supporters of same-sex marriage that "the fight for equality belongs to all of us."
The Maryland Catholic Conference statement issued that day noted: "Redefining marriage is not a question of civil rights. There are many ways to protect basic human rights; sacrificing marriage is not one of them."
Under current Maryland domestic partnership laws, basic rights and benefits are already ensured for same-sex couples.
Rion Dennis, executive director of the group Progressive Maryland, put opponents of the proposed marriage bill on notice. "We're coming. Maryland will be the seventh state to have marriage equality," he promised.
The Washington Post reported that the coalition pushing for same-sex marriage in Maryland "will be guided by a staff member on loan from the Human Rights Campaign."
In addition to Equality Maryland, a homosexual rights lobbying group, and Progressive Maryland, the same-sex marriage coalition in Maryland will include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Service Employees International Union, and the Communications Workers of America.
According to the Maryland Catholic Conference, a coalition of religious and family groups will continue to uphold traditional marriage in Maryland.
"This is not a partisan issue; it is a foundational issue to our society. Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable," the conference said in its statement.
For more information about the Catholic Church's position on marriage, go to the MCC web site: www.mdcathcon.org.