Reporting Pat Warren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) —The same-sex marriage debate is back in the General Assembly. Governor Martin O’Malley has introduced a bill he says should satisfy religious concerns.
Political reporter Pat Warren has reaction from both sides of the issue.
This is expected to be one of the most intense debates in this 90-day session and possibly beyond.
Just say no. That’s the option Governor O’Malley is giving religious groups that don’t want to perform weddings for same-sex couples.
O’Malley hosted a breakfast for a coalition supporting his bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill is also written to protect religious groups from lawsuits, an issue that may have prevented some delegates from voting for it last year.
“It’s our hope that by addressing that very specifically we’ll not only garner the support of those elected representatives but we’re also hoping to garner the support of the greater number of people in our state,” O’Malley said.
Couples Lisa and Gita, and Darryl and O’Brian are looking for that support.
“We are so hopeful that this will be the year for marriage equality in Maryland,” said Gita.
“It’s a way for us to create our American dream,” O’Brian said.
But some delegates supporting traditional marriage say the concessions to religion won’t change their stance.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for them to get those votes. I know the governor claims he has them. I think he’s lying. Clearly, I think he’s lying,” said Del. Don Dwyer, (R) Anne Arundel County.
Expect trouble in the House.
“We’re organized. We were not last year. We are this year,” said Del. Emmett Burns.
And should the bill pass, expect a bigger debate ahead.
“The likelihood is that this issue will go to the people at referendum, and the people will decide,” said O’Malley.
That would happen in November.
The bill in the House has been assigned to two committees, which increases the chances that it will make it to the House floor for full vote.
Same-sex marriage passed in the Senate last year, but died in the House.