Maryland’s Same-Sex Marriage Bill Includes Most ‘Explicit’ Religious Conscience Protections

The new same-sex marriage bill introduced yesterday by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD) in the Maryland Senate includes additional protections for religious institutions that were not part of last year’s failed measure, the Baltimore Sun reports. The so-called Civil Marriage Protection Act includes four changes: “It is now stated that religious leaders, as well as their institutions, are protected from lawsuits; that the state can’t withhold funds to penalize a religious institution that does not recognize same-sex marriages; and that the state can’t dictate religious doctrine. There also is an attempt to clarify that some programs run by religious institutions can exclude same-sex couples.” “The exemptions are more explicit this year,” O’Malley explained. The measure borrows language from same-sex marriage laws in New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C., but O’Malley characterized its religious protections as “explicit in this bill than they have been in any other bill around the country.” A House version of the bill has not yet been introduced. Watch O’Malley introduce his measure: