Greater Greater Washington

Support marriage equality for all in Maryland

Last month, Maryland gave nearly 17,000 same-sex couples the right to marry. We applaud the legislature's action and the support of Governor O'Malley in passing this law. But the hard work is not done.


Photo by ang.england on Flickr.

This month, the opponents to Maryland's same-sex marriage law are collecting signatures to force the issue to a referendum in November in the hopes of repealing the law. We ask you to oppose the petition, but if the petition is successful, we hope that you will vote in favor of equal marriage in November.

We support the right of all couples to marry. Building stronger families helps us build a stronger region, and moreover, supporting equality is the right thing to do.

Mildred Loving, plaintiff in the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia case which struck down Virginia's law against interracial marriage, said it best:

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
There are many reasons to support civil marriage for all. There's the simple issue of fairness: the state should not give a privilege to one group of people and deny it to another.

Equal marriage is also the best way to give all Maryland families the financial and legal protections they need to build a life. Committed couples who are unable to marry must to make financial sacrifices that opposite-sex couples do not have to make.

A 2009 study by the New York Times revealed that a same-sex couple will spend $467,000 more than a comparable heterosexual couple throughout their lives, in extra taxes, health insurance when an employer doesn't cover same-sex partners, and being ineligible for Social Security or pension benefits.

Without the ability to marry, committed gay and lesbian couples must set up a legal framework to reproduce the protections straight couples take for granted. These extra legal efforts are expensive and are only available to a small segment of the population.

Maryland State Delegate Mary Washington, the only openly gay black delegate in Maryland, makes it clear that there is a socioeconomic argument for gay marriage. "This is also about protecting our families, our poor and working-class people," she told the Washington Post in February.

Beyond economic arguments, studies show that children do better with married parents than with unmarried parents. And we've seen how communities that create an intolerant atmosphere towards gays or any minority group can destroy the well-being of its youth, gay or straight.

Civil unions, even when they're written to be "all-but-marriage," do not grant the same rights and protections. A separate word is not an equal word in practice. In New Jersey, where civil unions were explicitly written to provide the same rights as marriage, a state commission has found that civil unions have not fulfilled their goal. The "second-class status" of relationship created in New Jersey is hard to understand and often requires much more legal work in order to grant couples similar protection to their opposite-sex counterparts.

A referendum is not the appropriate forum to decide the rights of any minority group. As founding father James Madison discussed, in a system of direct democracy there is "nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party ... [and such systems] have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property". In contrast, representative democracy allows for more measured, cool considerations of issues affecting the rights of minorities.

While Greater Greater Washington traditionally writes most about the physical shape of our neighborhoods, such as transportation infrastructure and buildings, we care about all policies that affect our communities. Encouraging healthier families of all types and all gender mixes is a fundamental part of building healthy communities. On the flip side, discrimination affects all of our lives for a long time, and our cities, too.

Equal marriage is a necessary step to extend important protections under the law to all people. While Maryland's legislature has taken a great step forward, it will likely come down to the citizens of the Free State to determine whether same-sex couples will retain the right to marry.

If you're a Marylander, we encourage you to support equal marriage by not signing the petition to bring it to a referendum. And if a vote does occur, we ask you to vote to uphold the legislature's equal marriage bill this November.

This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors voted on endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong majority or greater in favor of endorsing (or, in this case, endorsing against) the initiative.

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Comments

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Thank you!

by Craig on Mar 29, 2012 2:45 pm • linkreport

Thank you!

by Patrick on Mar 29, 2012 3:07 pm • linkreport

Well said and very appropriate. I hope Maryland joins us here in DC in having marriage equality.

by Joe on Mar 29, 2012 3:08 pm • linkreport

Here, here!

by DrewCourt on Mar 29, 2012 3:47 pm • linkreport

I was initially skeptical about what the Loving analogy would include but this was a rather well-written endorsement.

Marriage equality rocks!

by HogWash on Mar 29, 2012 3:53 pm • linkreport

It should also be noted James Madison & Thomas Jefferson felt that no law should be passed...either for a minority or majority position unless a legislature waited one year for input and allowed no changes to the original language of the bill. This would be good for ANY form of legislation passed in Maryland, the other 49 states and Congress.

by Pelham1861 on Mar 29, 2012 4:10 pm • linkreport

I think the voters can be trusted to make the right decision.

by Pelham1861 on Mar 29, 2012 4:11 pm • linkreport

Great article; hope it helps!

by Shipsa01 on Mar 29, 2012 4:11 pm • linkreport

I'd like to point out that marriage is a conservative value, and should be supported by all who value families and love.

Oh, an as having voted for the government that was the first in the world to open marriage to all couples, I say: You're welcome ;-)

by Jasper on Mar 29, 2012 4:44 pm • linkreport

I'm confident that voters will make the right decision if it comes to a referendum but I hope it doesn't. Referendums are an easy way out for politicians looking to dodge responsibility and a way for determined people to beat the process. It'd be nice to see referendums used only when deciding whether a population wants to be annexed or secede from another location.

by Canaan on Mar 29, 2012 4:47 pm • linkreport

Bravo, GGW!

Marriage equality will help make Greater Washington a better place for everybody.

I seriously can't believe that we're still debating this in 2012, but I wear a tiny badge of pride for the fact that DC has marriage equality, and it's completely uncontroversial.

by andrew on Mar 29, 2012 5:04 pm • linkreport

Bravo!

by Gavin on Mar 29, 2012 5:11 pm • linkreport

Excellent thank you not for me but for all Gay and Lesbians in Maryland that should have the same rights, duties and privileges as straight people!!!

by Vincent on Mar 29, 2012 5:30 pm • linkreport

@Canaan: Just to clarify, if the marriage bill in Maryland goes to referendum, it will not be because of "politicians looking to dodge responsibility." The Governor and General Assembly have taken action to support marriage equality. The referendum would be to reverse the decision made by the legislators.

This is not to say that the Maryland General Assembly hasn't used referenda to duck responsibility. The slot machine authorization is an example of a time the General Assembly punted a decision to the voters.

by Stanton Park on Mar 29, 2012 5:32 pm • linkreport

Thanks ya'll!

by Steven H on Mar 29, 2012 6:34 pm • linkreport

The crap the judge said in the Loving v VA case is insane!

by grfab on Mar 29, 2012 6:42 pm • linkreport

Well said!

"Hate is a sickness".

by ceefer66 on Mar 29, 2012 8:06 pm • linkreport

Stanton park,
In this case yes. I should've put a caveat in there. Political figures in general whether elected or not.

by Canaan on Mar 29, 2012 9:58 pm • linkreport

Best post on GGW. Ever.

by C. P. Zilliacus on Mar 29, 2012 11:11 pm • linkreport

When are we going to confront the haters with science. Homosexuality is natural and science prooves it. The same science that propells our military might or controls the lighting in our rooms. What ever the analogy, we need to leave people alone for being born who they are. Bravo GGW

by Thayer-D on Mar 30, 2012 7:23 am • linkreport

Thank you so much for this endorsement. Equality and tolerance truly makes Greater Washington Greater. I look forward to marriage equality in Maryland. My boyfriend and I deserve the same rights as heterosexual couples.

by Murn on Mar 30, 2012 8:12 am • linkreport

I generally agree with the GGW posts, but had a different perspective on this one, so thought I'd pipe up.

First off - I agree that all people should be treated with equal dignity and respect.

However, the argument here, in my view, is not one for equality. Currently any person of age can enter into a marriage with any other person of age of the opposite gender so long as it is monogamous and the two aren't too closely related.

Rather this argument is about re-defining a social and moral concept that no other society in history has altered in the same way. Humanity has always given a special place to the union of a man and woman because that union is the only natural way of building a society. It was wrong to limit marriage based on race, because race is not a
defining feature in the natural and historical view of marriage.

Just as many are concerned about the future impact of carbon emissions on our natural ecological order, I am concerned that re-defining marriage this way is a departure from our natural moral and social order that we alter without any good idea of the consequence.

If the only criteria for marriage is that you be able to marry the person you love, what other restrictions on the current criteria for marriage will need to be removed that we now consider necessary (aside from opposite-gender - i.e., age, kinship, monogamy?)?

by Jeremy on Mar 30, 2012 9:50 am • linkreport

Jeremy,

According to what reading of history has monogamy been a "defining feature in the natural and historical view of marriage." Polygamous marriages were the norm for a much larger percentage of human history than monogamy. Indeed, polygamamous marriage remains de facto or de jure valid in a not insignificant number of countries today.

In addition, for most of its history, polygamous and monogamous, marriage between a man and a woman has equated to effective ownership by the man of the woman. Legally-mandated subservience was the norm and it was very much a "defining feature in the natural and historical view of marriage."

To say "this argument is about re-defining a social and moral concept that no other society in history has altered in the same way" is nonsensical on those grounds alone, since the definition of marriage has indeed changed radically over time, much less the fact that gay marriage is already recognized in societies other than our own.

Restrictions on age and kinship vary by jurisdiction, which rather damages the notion that some particular baseline - 16? 17? 18? first cousins no but second cousins yes? - is one of those "defining features" you named.

So long as a big chunk of humanity continues to want to settle down in relatively stable family units, fevered predictions of the end of human social order as we know it will continue to be groundless.

by Dizzy on Mar 30, 2012 10:15 am • linkreport

@ Jeremy: seriously?

"Just as many are concerned about the future impact of carbon emissions on our natural ecological order, I am concerned that re-defining marriage this way is a departure from our natural moral and social order that we alter without any good idea of the consequence."

I'll tell you the (negative) consequence of doing this - nothing. Not something, not anything; nothing. Nada, zip, zilch.

Positive consequence? Happiness? Economic interests? A more culturally conservative, family-oriented society? (As someone pointed out already above.)

If your church (I'm assuming here) doesn't want to partake, good for them and so be it. There's no need to push your agenda on the rest of society though.

Btw, I'm a straight, Presbyterian man who recently (July, 2011) married the woman he loves. We have not decided on whether or not we're going to have children to contribute to (as you say) the building of society. We were - and are - in love; so we got married. Plain and simple. If two people love each other, they should be able to marry.

by Shipsa01 on Mar 30, 2012 10:24 am • linkreport

I'm all for gay marriage, but I have a hard time understanding why this post is on a website devoted to urban living/transportation issues ...

by JP on Mar 30, 2012 10:26 am • linkreport

If your church (I'm assuming here) doesn't want to partake, good for them and so be it. There's no need to push your agenda on the rest of society though.

Currently, we validate the marriages of some churches through force of law, and invalidate the marriages of others. I could never understand how denying churches the right to legally marry their parishioners (those who happen to be of the same sex) is somehow perverted into a question of "religious freedom". Quite Orwellian in my opinion. The only explanation for it is that it's a successful attempt to create a state religion by conservative religions.

by oboe on Mar 30, 2012 11:00 am • linkreport

"Just as many are concerned about the future impact of carbon emissions on our natural ecological order, I am concerned that re-defining marriage this way is a departure from our natural moral and social order that we alter without any good idea of the consequence."

I'll tell you the (negative) consequence of doing this - nothing. Not something, not anything; nothing.

Before I get flamed, I'll first say that I'm all for gay marriage. BUT, we should also acknowledge Jeremy's valid point. A change to marriage DOES come with risks. You can't say with assurance before it happens that the negative consequence will be zero. That's why arguing for gay marriage shouldn't be about weighing advantages vs. disadvantages. That's a losing argument because the disadvantages are unknown and you'll end up arguing about that.

The bigger point is that regardless of any potential disadvantages, same sex marriage should be a civil right. Just like we don't argue about the disadvantages of free speech (and there are certainly disadvantages -- the KKK would never be able to voice their opinions in a place like Europe where there's less free speech), the discussion on gay marriage shouldn't hinge on potential disadvantages.

That said, a lot of the risk of gay marriage is gone now that it's been piloted in many cultures similar to our own (Europe, Canada, Australia) and even piloted in many states within the US. Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage in 1989 and in the 23 years since, there have been virtually no negative consequences. By many measures, Danish social and moral order is much better than our own.

by Falls Church on Mar 30, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

@ Jeremy:Rather this argument is about re-defining a social and moral concept that no other society in history has altered in the same way.

That is simply not true. Others have pointed out that marriage did not have a steady definition in time. I also would like to point out that the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Iceland, South Africa, Argentina, most of Canada and 6 states in the US have already ended the exclusion of gays to marriage. Large parts of the world have done the same, but are playing are playing word games by not calling the same rights marriage.

Humanity has always given a special place to the union of a man and woman because that union is the only natural way of building a society

No it has not.

How can one be against giving a person the legal tools to care for the person (s)he loves the most? That makes no sense for any point of view because it simply lacks compassion and empathy.

by Jasper on Mar 30, 2012 12:34 pm • linkreport

@ Falls Church:Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize same sex marriage.

No it was not. It was the Netherlands. Denmark was the first recognizing same-sex unions, but they still don't have gay marriage. A law is working itself through Danish parliament as we speak though.

Both countries are fine though. And have a lower divorce rate than the US.

by Jasper on Mar 30, 2012 12:47 pm • linkreport

In addition, for most of its history, polygamous and monogamous, marriage between a man and a woman has equated to effective ownership by the man of the woman. Legally-mandated subservience was the norm and it was very much a "defining feature in the natural and historical view of marriage."

I think that latter part of this statement is only true since the advent of crop domestication. That revolution was accompanied by another one -the change in codified human realtionships that you describe. There are many examples of prehistoric societies that don't define women this way and don't define marriage this way. The time since crop domestication is a small fraction of the whole time of human history.

Two examples: Sami(? some artic group reliant on reindeer) traditional society is polygamous in that both men and women have co-wives and co-husbands. The men follow the herd and stop at one of the houses on the route where one of one of their co-wives lives -- meaning the women on the route have many husbands they see several times a year. Everyone takes care of the children in the household. The society has survived thousands of years.

Certian tribe in India. The man responsibsle for raising the children is the maternal uncle. The father doesn't play a role. He has his own neices and nephews to raise. IIRC the father/husband doesn't live full time in the mother's/wife's house. He just visits.

by Tina on Mar 30, 2012 1:29 pm • linkreport

Thank you GGW. I recently moved to the northern Virginia area (1 1/2 years ago) and only a few weeks ago discovered your website. I love it! I also love the support you give to the LGBT community. A diverse community, in my opinion, creates a better city; both physically and culturally.

Cheers!

by Dave on Mar 30, 2012 3:17 pm • linkreport

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