As expected, SB 116 was voted out of committee today. SB 116 would redefine marriage in our state and drastically alter a social institution that derives from our human nature as men and women.
The argument that we need to redefine marriage so that same-sex couples can receive benefits unravels when we consider the fact that many human relationships are based on the love and commitment of two people for one another, and that many good and generous people are raising children in nurturing environments that are different than the traditional nuclear family.
It is clear that there are other avenues for granting certain rights and benefits to couples who are not married. Maryland has already granted many rights to domestic partnerships, such as medical decision-making, hospital visitation rights, and exemptions from real estate transfer and inheritance taxes. There are many ways to protect basic human rights; sacrificing marriage is not one of them.
While the committee added limited religious exemption amendments to SB 116, our opposition to this bill does not rest on a simple concern for the interests of religious institutions only. The bill continues to provide no protections for an individual’s religious freedoms, such as those of a clerk forced to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. More importantly, our fundamental concern about redefining marriage is for the sake of our whole society, and particularly for children and their elemental desire to know, and ideally to be raised and loved by, their biological mother and father. Stripping marriage of its unique connection to parenthood erases from law the right of a child to a mother and father, and ignores an essential question of why government favors marriage between one man and one woman over all other relationships.
Maryland Catholic Conference advocates for the Church's public policy positions before the Maryland General Assembly and other civil officials. The Conference represents the three dioceses with territory in the state – the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.