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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Path to Marriage Equality in Maryland

       I attended a meeting of PFLAG last week to learn more about the plan to get the marriage equality bill passed this year in the Maryland legislature.  There are multiple plans each with a different number of steps:

1) Legislature passes the legislation, the Governor signs the bill and a referendum to repeal the legislation fails in November 2012.  We have marriage equality in Maryland in 2012.

2) Legislature passes the legislation passes, the Governor signes the bill and a referendum to repeal the legislation succeeds and advocates for marriage equality appeal to the Maryland Court of Appeals arguing that the referendum repealing the law is unconstitutional in that it violates the equal protection clause of the Maryland Constitution. With the different make up of the Court of Appeals with three new liberal judges appointed by Gov. O'Malley hopefully their ruling would be different than the last time when the Court ruled on the marriage equality issue and voted on a narrow 5-4 basis.  The Court overturns the referendum and marriage equality exists in Maryland in 2013.

Marriage equality in Maryland is not a matter of "if" but "when."

There are more than 1049 federal level benefits that are tied to marriage.  The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has to be repealed to make these benefits available to same sex couples.  That battle is still ahead and sadly will take many more years given the opposition from conservative legislators.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't know why Clinton passed DOMA. Nor do I know why Obama continues to support it. The legislative problems at the federal level needs to be fixed.

Can you describe in more detail these alleged 1049 federal level marriage benefits? I'm married and I just don't see them. It seems like perhaps most of these should be cut, or if they are simply legal protections, addressed by doing away with death taxes, etc.

Anonymous said...

It's also worth noting that Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, who is herself a lesbian and ultra-liberal Democrat, voted for DOMA.

IMHO, DOMA needs to be repealed first. Otherwise, state laws are just trying to work around a giant federal distortion.

hoco Connect said...

GAO listing of the federal benefits tied to marriage.

Anonymous said...

Anon #1: The Wikipedia article "Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States" has more information on Federal marriage benefits, including a link to the GAO report with all the details.

P.S. The 1,049 estimate is from the pre-DOMA period. Post-DOMA the number of relevant benefits is higher (1,138 in the most recent GAO report). A lot of them are trivial but some decidedly not so.

Anonymous said...

That list of benefits is, like most of what government does, about 99% BS. Out of that list of 1,000+, there are maybe 10 meaningful benefits (there's a whole freaking section of benefits relating to Native Americans for god's sake). The only meaningful benefits are probably related to death taxes and health insurance type stuff. Those things can be, and frankly should be, fixed at the federal level (and with respect to death taxes, they should be eliminated).

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