Marriage Equality Bill Introduced In Maryland Senate

Earlier today, Maryland Senators introduced SB 116, ‘Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act,’ which would allow gays and lesbians to marry in the state while exempting religious institutions from conducting the same-sex marriage ceremonies. State Senator Robert Garagiola introduced the measure and stressed that religious institutions would not be required to recognize these relationships:

GARAGIOLA: Under the terms of the Act, an official of a religious institution or body who is authorized to solemnize marriages, may not be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, or Article 36 of our Constitution. As amended, the bill also provides that a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit operated by one, may not be required to provide services accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges to an individual if the request is related to the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of marriage that is in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs.

Listen to audio of the introduction:

On Thursday, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved the measure in a 7 to 4 vote, along with three amendments, which the Senate is expected to consider tomorrow. The body will vote on the amendments and then on the underlining bill. If that vote is successful, and proponents of the measure expect it to be, Senators will begin to debate the bill and offer amendments on the floor.

Maryland Equality says it has enough votes to pass the measure and a Washington Post tally from last week “showed 24 senators – the minimum needed for passage – having said they would support the bill.”