By Emily Blackner
Earlier this year, the Maryland legislature passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which repeals an earlier Maryland statue declaring that the state will only recognize a marriage between a man and a woman as valid.
Washington College’s EROS (Encouraging Respect for Others’ Sexuality) President Amanda Anastasia is pleased by this turn of events.
“The passage of this bill is a very exciting step forward for Maryland. Marriage equality is a huge political issue right now, and I am excited that Maryland is moving in the right direction,” she said. “Hopefully even more states will follow suit in upcoming years.”
The bill, co-sponored by over 40 delegates and introduced at the urging of Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration, states that “only a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in this State.” Much of the bill’s text is devoted to enumerating the familial relationships that would disqualify two individuals from marrying.
Additionally, Section 2 states that “an official of a religious order or body authorized by the rules and customs of that order or body to perform a marriage ceremony may not be required to solemnize or officiate any particular marriage or religious rite of any marriage;” in other words, religious officials whose beliefs do not support same-sex marriage does not have to perform same-sex marriages. This is included as a protection of first amendment rights, according to the bill.
The act is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2013. However, some groups in Maryland are collecting signatures to put the act to referendum, hoping to repeal the legislation. The bill’s Section 5 means that if there are questions as to the “validity or sufficiency of the signatures required to complete the referendum petition” they must be dealt with prior to the bill taking effect, which could push this date back.
“If the vote goes to a referendum, it may impact the events that EROS chooses to host in the upcoming academic year,as we try to keep an eye on what is happening in the ‘real world’ and bring awareness of outside events to the WC campus community,” said Anastasia.
“While I am not a resident of the state of Maryland, I really hope that, if the bill does go to referendum, that the public will vote to uphold this bill, and I will certainly try to be active in promoting the acceptance of same-sex marriage in Maryland. Same-sex marriage is an issue of equality under the law for all people, and I think that is a very important concept.”
Additional reporting by copy editor Paige Kube.