Monday, March 29, 2010

Equality Maryland plans long-term strategy to avoid testing marriage equality in an election

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler interprets state law to allow recognition of out-of-state, same-sex marriages, and Governor Martin O'Malley has directed state agencies to comply with Gansler's advisory opinion. But advocates of marriage equality will not use the opinion as a means to try to enact a marriage equality law in the current legislative session, even though bills are pending in the state Senate and House (SB 582 / HB 808). Legislation has been introduced repeatedly over the last decade, and has received increasing support, but Equality Marriage has determined that the time is not yet ripe. Even if the legislation were enacted, a referendum would likely follow, and the voters may defeat marriage equality. (Baltimore Sun, cross-posted by Straight Talk on Marriage) "

Equality Maryland has hired Amy Martin, a Field Organizer For Marriage Equality, with twin goals of expanding support from legislators and the public. Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets says that "in the wake of Proposition 8 in California and Question 1 in Maine, Equality Maryland is also looking at a wide-ranging strategy to ensure that we have the necessary public support to beat back a referendum aimed at rolling back our gains." (03/25/10 Equality Maryland press release)

Meneses-Sheets has expressed misgiving about a proposal to amend the state constitution in favor of marriage equality (HB 1176 / HB 1279). Delegate Frank M. Conaway Jr., D-Baltimore, believes that his legislation could help end the legislative stalemate by having voters decide the outcome. But Meneses-Sheets said that the proposed amendment would "not be the way to go for a number of reasons. To have the majority voting on the rights of a minority population is just never a good idea, and it's a pretty unacceptable way to try to make progress." (The Capital, cross-posted by ADF Alliance Alert. This is a fuller version of the Baltimore Sun article.)

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