Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Path to Same-Sex Marriage - A Maryland Prologue

Today, the Maryland Senate preliminarily approved the Civil Marriage Protection Act (originally introduced as the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act) by a vote of 25-22. The final vote is scheduled for Thursday.

The language is actually quite brief and simple:

The relevant language is near the bottom in § 2-201 (a) & (B), which changes the Maryland code to now recognize marriage as between TWO INDIVIDUALS instead of just between a man and a woman. Much of the debate today focused on religious organizations, who lobbied for amendments that would grant them exceptions from having to recognize or limit their services. As of today, the Senate
. . .rejected 30 to 17 an amendment that would have allowed religious-affiliated adoption agencies, such as Catholic Charities, to refuse services to same-sex couples. Opponents argued that it was discriminatory and conflicted with current adoption regulations, which do not allow organizations to discriminate based on sexual orientation or other factors.
So what does all this mean? Well, if this passes (and Governor Martin O'Malley has hinted that he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk), the new law would be the culmination of countless battles, both in the social and legal sense. To better understand how legal underpinnings of this change, it is important to look back on the evolution of case law on the subject, to see how Courts and legislatures manuevered into this direction by steadily recognizing an ever expanding core of privacy rights.

As part of a 6 part series, I will explore these issues and consider the importance of the Court's initial definitions of marriage, and how it has evolved to the more fluid, and heavily debated definitions argued by various sides today. As a disclaimer, I will only present the legal history and theory behind the current body of law. Tomorrow, we will start with the initial Contract theories used to define a marriage, and how that impacted the courts' decisions of how exactly to define the marriage relationship.

Stay tuned.


  1. how many states allow for Gay marriage?

  2. Rb, you are a fucking badass. This is the first in my epic six-part tribute to your badassitude.