Maryland House Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill

All four Carroll County Delegates voted against the bill.

It was close, but the Maryland House of Delegates voted to approve a same-sex marriage bill Friday night that was a priority for Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Legislators passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act with 72 votes in favor and 67 delegates voting against the legislation. The bill needed a minimum of 71 votes to pass. The total was originally reported as 71 votes in favor because a technical glitch locked out Del. John Bohanon’s vote in favor of the bill.

Just two Republicans—Dels. Wade Kach and Robert Costa of Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, respectively—voted in favor of the bill.

A similar bill died last year in the House when proponents failed to secure the needed votes and were forced to return the bill to committee.

The bill will now be taken up for debate in the state Senate, which held a hearing prior to the House. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has been holding the bill to wait to see if the House would pass it.

As the vote tally on the roll call board showed the bill had passed a cheer erupted from supporters on the floor.

Gitanjali Deane and Lisa Polyak, of Baltimore's Homeland neighborhood, stood outside the House of Delegates chambers celebrating after the House passed the bill. The couple were the lead plaintiffs in an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the state’s current law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.  

“I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around it because I feel like finally we’re recognized as a family,” Deane said while standing next to her daughter Devi.   

Among the supporters was Del. Anne Kaiser, a Montgomery County Democrat. She said it was one of the happiest days of her life.

“I can hardly believe it now. It’s just really exciting for me, for my partner and my family for the other members of the legislature and the people of Maryland,” said Kaiser, who is one of seven openly gay or lesbian members of the House.  

Kaiser called the process of trying to corral enough votes to pass the legislation “exciting” and said she expects the Senate to pass the bill next week.

“One of the things I’ve been saying the last few weeks is ‘History, do you feel inevitability knocking on the door?’” she said. 

Del. Mary Washington, a Democrat who represents North Baltimore, was also elated when the tally was announced.

“I’m so happy for the men and women in this state who are now going to be able to get married some day soon. I’m just very grateful to all the delegates who looked deep into their hearts and looked to their responsibilities as legislators and came out on the side of equality,” said Washington, who is also a lesbian.  

Washington said amendments to the bill, which include provisions that it can not go into effect if there is pending litigation against it or that it can be struck down if a judge decides any part of it is illegal, gives her some reason for concern. But she added that she just wanted to enjoy the night’s victory.  

“For tonight we have established that it is the intent of this legislature to have marriage equality in the state of Maryland and that can not be changed,” Washington said.

O'Malley has made passage of the bill one of his top priorities this session. Earlier on Friday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, vetoed his state's bill to legalize gay marriage. Both O'Malley and Christie are often mentioned as future presidential candidates.

O'Malley praised Maryland legislators for their work.  

“Today, the House of Delegates voted for human dignity," O'Malley said in a statement released Friday after the vote. "Speaker (Michael) Busch and his fellow Delegates deserve a lot of credit for their hard work.  At its heart, their vote was a vote for Maryland’s children."

The amendments were added to the bill Friday afternoon following a meeting between House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Del. Tiffany Alston, a Prince George’s Democrat, during the debate on the bill.

An amendment was added to the legislation Thursday that moves the effective date of the legislation from October 2012 to January 2013 to secure the vote of Del. Wade Kach, a Baltimore County Republican. Kach said in an interview Friday afternoon he wanted the amendment attached so opponents would have enough time to try and put the issue to a referendum.    

Kach was one of two Baltimore County delegates who were once thought to oppose the bill but then came out to support it in the last hours before a final vote.

Kach, in an interview with Patch less than an hour before the final vote, said he changed his mind after sitting next to witnesses at a hearing last week.

"I saw the relationships between the same-sex couples—they're not second class citizens," said Kach, a Republican who represents northern Baltimore County. 

Del. John Olszewski Jr., a Dundalk Democrat, announced yesterday that he would support the bill. He had opposed previous versions of the bill saying that it failed to provide adequate protection to religious institutions.

During debate Friday night, Olszewski said he now believes the "has strongest language to protect religious institutions."

Kach came under fire by some in his own party after the vote who held him responsible for the passage of the bill.

"I'm extremely disappointed in Wade Kach," said Del. Kathy Szeliga, Baltimore County Republican. "It's one vote. I know his district. That district is not going to be happy with his vote."

Szeliga said the focus is now on moving the bill, which is expected to be passed in the Senate, to a referendum on the 2012 ballot in November along side the bill that grants tuition to some illegal immigrants.

"I'll be strongly working on the petition drive as soon as it get's out of the Senate," said Szeliga.

Here's how Carroll County lawmakers voted:

  • Donald Elliott, R, District 4, Against
  • Sue Krebs, R, District 9, Against
  • Justin Ready, R, District 5, Against
  • Nancy Stocksdale, R, District 5, Against
romeo valianti February 18, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Carroll County Delegatex, Krebs, Elliott, Ready and Stocksdale ought to take out Delegate Republican Wade Koch to a good steak dinner for voting for the same sex marriage bill. If it were not for Koch, the bill would have failed. One must admit, that Koch has guts voting against his own party. When O'Malley leaves office as Governor of Maryland, The Republicans have a good candidate in Wade Koch.
Bonnie Grady February 20, 2012 at 04:08 AM
Here's how Carroll County lawmakers voted: Donald Elliott, R, District 4, Against Sue Krebs, R, District 9, Against Justin Ready, R, District 5, Against Nancy Stocksdale, R, District 5, Against Just one question Why? Just one word: Remember!
Native February 20, 2012 at 04:26 AM
Why? Because that's what their constituents wanted them to do. And we will remember come election day & will vote for them again!
Bonnie Grady February 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM
No, that's not true. There was no vote locally. There are lots of people in Carroll County who support equality for all citizens. The delegation's votes were based on their personal religious views. Religion should not be the basis for law, as stated in the US Constitution.
Native February 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Bull$#$% Bonnie, you know as well as I do that legislators are elected to represent the voters, the majority of which that voted, elected the current representatives. They in turn vote as they campaigned. Every little issue that you liberals don't agree with cannot be brough up for a vote. Quit whining.
Judith M. Smith February 20, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Native...why the labels and nastiness...no one is whining... because someone disagrees with you, you call it "whining." This should NOT be a political football for either side...it is a human rights issue. As much as I personally like Dr. Elliot who represents me, I can disagree with him on several issues, this being one. I am a registered R, who has campaigned for Julia Gouge and Dean Minnich...door-to-door. In my heart, I believe they know the line that is not to be crossed between personal issues and legal issues ... and Carroll County needs them now more than ever for their moderation and wisdom...lacking now unfortunately for all Carroll Countians.
S&W February 20, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Let it go to a referendum and we will see. Take the liberal law makers out of the equation and let the people decide. It will die for sure.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2012 at 02:51 PM
The current manner of operation that this BOC operates within seems to have a very broad, very cold kind of grey zone. No one enjoys dealing with these conditions, serious checks for the sake of balance and fairness are a civic responsibility.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2012 at 02:53 PM
And that's even after eloquent prayer....
romeo valianti February 20, 2012 at 02:55 PM
S&W dont bet on it . Politics as they say is temporary business anything can happen in an election . Look what happened when these misfits that were elected we elected Commissioners. Also dont judge Bonnie Grady Grady and Judy Smith harshly, they are as many say Carroll County Finest. When they write in the patch they at least tell us their names insteadd of hiding their idenity.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Every issue with verifiable concern or question should allow complete opportunity for full public participation. This would eliminate many problems. Failure in the manner by which this BOC has operated to date, would be kept to a minimum. As it is...broad legal grey zone of elected official, public servant decision making with an attitude..... not so sure about this....has a bad feel....
Native February 20, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Oh they're whining alright Judith. As is evident in their posts on other issues.
Buck Harmon February 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
kinda weak...
Judith M. Smith February 20, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Thank you Romeo...I appreciate that
Judith M. Smith February 20, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Maybe my dictionary defines "whining" differently...and the ordinary and customary use of the word differs from "Native's" use as well... Semantics...a wonderful thing


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