Measure to protect marriage dies in Maryland


A measure that would have protected marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Maryland’s state constitution died Thursday in the Maryland House of Delegates. Republicans were hoping the measure would make it to a November ballot.

Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) had drafted the proposal. Two weeks ago, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled the state's 33-year-old same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) thwarted last week’s effort by GOP lawmakers to bring the constitutional amendment directly to the House floor for debate instead of passing it through the House Judiciary Committee first, reported the Washington Post.

Under House rules, members can employ a rarely used procedure to petition the bill out of committee if it has a minimum 47 votes. With only 43 House Republicans, the bill's backers found four supportive Democrats.

Republican whip Anthony J. O'Donnell (Calvert) had the petition in hand when the House convened. But just after the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance -- and before O'Donnell had a chance to deliver the document -- Majority Leader Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery) moved to recess the session, the speaker banged his gavel and the moment had passed, reported the Post.

Later, in the House Judiciary Committee, Democrats voted unanimously against the entire proposal. In committee, Del. Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Montgomery) offered an amendment that would outlaw same-sex marriage, but recognize civil unions, prescribing to same-sex partners all the rights and benefits afforded to married couples. Dumais’ amendment was voted down.

Republicans said they would probably try another move to revive the measure in the House, reported the Post. If lawmakers do not pass the constitutional amendment, there is no way for citizens to put such a measure on the ballot.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has voiced his support for the constitutional amendment. "I firmly believe the people should vote on this issue," he said.