An historic day in Maryland. The Senate begins its first ever public hearings today on the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act."
Activists seeking to make Maryland the sixth state in the nation to recognize gay marriage said they will pack a hearing of Maryland's Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Tuesday with same-sex families, clergy and legal experts.
Opponents — led by the Maryland Catholic Conference and other religious groups — are also preparing to speak out at the hearing. Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, D-Montgomery, filed the bill which will be vetted at the hearing. Supporters are likely to face their greatest hurdle in the Senate, where they would need 29 of the chamber's 47 lawmakers to break a filibuster and 24 votes to advance the measure to the House.
The Senate audio will be streamed HERE. If I hear about a videostream, I'll update asap.
NOM's resident gay-obsessive Maggie Gallagher is also expected to testify.
A Washington Post survey last week found 20 senators committed to supporting the bill, which needs 24 votes for passage. Six senators said they were undecided.
Marriage equality in Maryland received a major boost last week when Democratic Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, the state’s highest-elected Black official and possibly its most powerful, declared his support. Brown pushed back on the meme that Black voters would automatically oppose the bill. "Prince George’s County, which is predominantly African American, should not be viewed as a monolithic entity or county or community. I think we’re going to get varying degrees of support and varying degrees of opposition."
January polling by Gonzales Research found 51 percent of Marylanders support marriage equality and 44 percent opposed it. When asked about civil unions, 62 percent said they favor such a law. But the Democratic caucus in the Maryland General Assembly is very unlikely to settle for civil unions, reports the Washington Post .
If passed, Maryland would join five other states and the District of Columbia in granting licenses for same-sex marriages.