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OPINION: Marriage and Equal Protection Under the Law

All Marylanders deserve marriage equality.

Two Baltimore County legislators—one a Republican and one a Democrat—found themselves at a crossroads last week with regard to whether Maryland should recognize the rights of same-sex couples to be eligible for civil marriages. For both men, Del. Wade Kach and Del. John Olszewski, Jr., the issue came down to recognizing that same-sex couples should "enjoy the same protections and responsibilities that our laws provide for others," as stated by Kach.

I generally consider myself to be a political moderate, who is principally concerned with achieving a consensus that is favorable to as many individuals as possible. However, I do not believe that it is ever appropriate for thoughtful people to be willing to diminish the rights of others through their actions or inactions in the name of politics. Thus, I am deeply proud of the stand taken by both Kach and Olszewski. 

Many readers who do not support this view will, I am sure, immediately seek to justify their perspective by pointing to the views espoused by their religious faith. Our founding fathers would not be supportive of the view that religion should be in a position to dictate the actions of our government. It was Thomas Jefferson who argued fervently in support of a "wall of separation between church and state." Moreover, President James Madison aptly indicated that "practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government is essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States." 

I believe that the Civil Marriage Protection Act upholds these principles, because it extends equal rights to same-sex couples, while also maintaining the rights of religious institutions. Olszewski correctly noted when he announced his support for this legislation that "it is not the role of the State to tell my church—or any other faith community—what its beliefs can and cannot be." In support of this view, and the convictions of Jefferson, the civil marriage bill includes strong protections for religious institutions. Specifically, the legislation states that no church would be required to participate in a marriage ceremony "that is in violation of the entity’s religious beliefs."

Contrary to what others may espouse, I do not see how my own marriage would be in any way diminished through the extension of civil marriages to same-sex couples. Individual marriages do not succeed or fail on the basis of the actions of others. They succeed or fail by virtue of how these married partners treat each other. Someone else's loving, caring relationship does not threaten my own, but rather serves as a model for the emulation of all couples.

Like Kach and Olszewski, I believe that the time has come for the recognition of marriage equality for same-sex couples. For those who disagree, I simply offer these words of caution from the Abraham Lincoln, The Great Emancipator: "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."

Is same-sex marriage a matter of civil rights or morality? Tell us in the comments.

Casey A February 21, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Buzz - Mr. Warren asked the question on fiscal matters responding to an article on same-sex marriage. Why would he ask his question in the context of a gay marriage article unless he was addressing the fiscal matters surrounding gay marriage. You keep mentioning agendas. Just to be clear, the only gay agenda is legal equality.
Steve Kolbe February 21, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Linked in my comment above was the following: http://abcdclassroom.blogspot.com/2009/10/and-tango-makes-three-lesson-plan.html "Anti-bias" curriculum like this is being used in public schools where children have no choice but to attend, and parents, some unwilling and without the financial resources, have no choice but to send their children. It is unfair to categorize these people as bigots for wanting the opportunity to teach tolerance and family values their way. Good individuals of all kinds can certainly and rightly speak on behalf of themselves that they are tolerant people who do not impose their will upon others, but above exemplifies an absolute fact. A progressive movement exists throughout our nation that is imposing itself. It hasn't declared success and dissolved in San Francisco where this type of curriculum is being used, and certainly will not go away here at home once the current battle is won. We have lots of civil liberties in this nation, and that's part of what makes us so great. But when a civil liberty is turned into a civil right, it should never commit harm to others. And that is but one reason why so many of us are outraged. It is but one reason why Maryland legislators overstepped when they bowed before the pressure of Washington-bound Martin O'Malley and special interest groups. It is but one reason why this legislation will go to referendum, like it has in many other states, and will be overturned by the good people of Maryland!
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Buzz, stop yelling. I have as many clues as you profess to have. When one uses the term "only" it doesn't take a genius to figure out what that means, so you should be able to figure it out too. Chill out.
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Casey, in the same way anyone would ask a question on fiscal matters such as immigration, defense spending, the housing crisis or any other topic that involves a specific economic impact. Yes he was referring to gay marriage but did not reveal his personal thoughts on the matter. There are two sides to every issue and my point at the time of his question Mr. Warren did not reveal his. Again, I repeat the contents of his question - "My only concerns are fiscal." If I asked you what are the economic costs of global warming what would my personal stance be? Am I for it, against it, not sure, still searching or raising one of many valid questions. You are assuming a conclusion based solely on a question that does not reveal the person's personal beliefs.
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Brandon, please read carefully what I have written? Before you do read the link as to the term of AGENDA! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda Read my response to Casey. Do you realize that there are TWO AGENDAS going on here? I can't be any more clear in my comments. I have not MADE ONE STATEMENT on the merits of either side of this issue. I made that clear in my opening comment. You are falling into the trap of allowing your personal issues to get in the way of the subject matter I'm commenting on. You went through a litany of issues that I never brought up. I even stated that there are various studies on this issue as related to economics.
Casey A February 21, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I appreciate what you are saying. My point is that the economic impact of a civil rights decision should not be factored in when making a decision about civil rights. Why would Mr. Warren have asked about the economic impact of same-sex marriage if he was not going to use that information to support or oppose the legislation?
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Paul, it's gets a little frustrating when people attempt to pigeon someone into a corner when if they would just read carefully what I wrote they will see that I did not and have not commented on the merits of the bill. How many times do I have to repeat myself in order for people to comprehend that the complexities of any humane endeavor often go well beyond the personal issues.
Jesse Date February 21, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Brandon, I did look up what you said about the biology of a person determining someone's sexual orientation. Most of what I read agrees with you on that biology is a factor. But it is not overriding. Their are other factors involved such as the child's environment, personal experiences, parental impressions, and interactions with members of both sexes. The matter was not solved 20 years ago. It was simply decided that a homosexual person does have a biological tendency for preference of their own sex but ultimately it is still that person's decision. And I am happy that you are a Christian and celebrate His creation. However, if you are homosexual you aren't living as He intended. Just look in Genesis. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the cities were filled with sinful people. Abraham haggled with God to try to find 10 righteous people but he couldn't. It is also mentioned that homosexuals came to Abraham's cousin, Lot's, house to "know" his male visitors, who were angelic messengers (know in the Bible often refers to sexual intercourse). When he refuses to allow his guests to be, what is assumed, raped, they attempt to break down the door but the angels strike those men with blindness. And you're right, God makes no mistakes. When he created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden, everything was good. That is the way it should be. However, they chose to go against God and sin. Just because we are good does not mean we can choose agianst it as homosexuals do.
Casey A February 21, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Steve - Schools can acknowledge that there are different kinds of families without endorsing or condemning them.
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Casey, I am a writer and in the past I worked along with my police career as a journalist. I rely on factual statements and you offered your own conclusion. Here is your quote. "if he was not going to use that information to support or oppose the legislation?" At the time of the question he offered neither. If I were to take his question to an editor with my conclusion based on his first comment he would politely, or not, tell me to get more information for collaboration, If as a police officer I was too make an arrest based on his comment as to whether or not he supported the bill the facts would not hold up in a court of law. You have to remember he did not say one way or the other whether he supported the bill or not.
John Doe February 21, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Everyone needs to stop with the economic impact. Do you smoke, drink, eat poorly, are obese, do not exercise regularly, etc? - if people did some preventative measures with their health, health care cost would diminish exponentially. Think of all the money saved here.
Casey A February 21, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Jesse - The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was rape and inhospitality, not homosexuality. Genesis 19:4-5 says that ALL of the townsmen came to rape the angels. There is no way that every man in Sodom and Gomorrah was a homosexual. In addition, Genesis 19:8 states that Lot offered the men his daughters in place of the angels. Why would Lot offer his daughters to a group of homosexual men? This passage is about rape and inhospitality, not homosexuality.
Steve Kolbe February 21, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I would wholeheartedly object to a teacher passing my eight-year old a card that directs them to act out an encounter where two homosexual penguins meet for the first time. (See the link I supplied in my response.) Casey, sorry but you and I will have to agree to disagree.
Jesse Date February 21, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Casey- Yes you are right in Genesis 19:4-5 it says, 'But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them'. These men came specifically for the other "men" that were in Lot's house. In Genesis 19:8 he does offer his daughters because then the intruders would be blameless. As the father, he could order his daughters to sleep with any man he wanted. Therefore the sexual act would be in accordance to nature and God's law and it would be voluntary because the daughters would be obedient to their father's wishes. Before the men refused Lot's daughters and attempted to break down Lot's door, they said that they would do worse to him. Again I reference the phrase "to know", which is often used to mean sexual intercourse
Shirley Smith February 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Doe anyone truly believe that our founding fathers would support the Same Sex Marriabe bill? I think not.
Brandon February 21, 2012 at 08:29 PM
If our founding fathers lived in this day and age, Yes I do believe they would support marriage equality. They were enlightened people. They believed in liberty.
Marty Warren February 21, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Since some people are referring to MY post, I'll tell you exactly what was going through my mind when I asked my question. Buzz is correct. Paul and I have gone back and forth no fewer than 100 times on this web site. My only concerns are fiscal means, my only concern is how much will it cost. I've stated before that I don't care about gay marraige. I don't care enough to support it and I don't care enough to fight it. Paul said "It is very clear the poster could care less about discrimination if it does not affect him fiscally." (A tactic perceived is no longer a tactic Paul, the "GUILT" thing doesn't work on me anymore). Paul's statement is correct but don't be mis-led into believing I think its all about me, I don't. All my money will go to my wife of 26 years when she's 70 years old and I am dead. I am sick and tired of "BLEEDING HEART LIBERALS" pretending to care about everybody else, all the while increasing their own power and profits. I'll use a liberal trick on the liberals and ask "WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? How can you possible saddle our children and grand children with debt they will never be able to re-pay???
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Shirley, of course not, back then they absolutely would not support marriage equality. They had slaves! Women could not vote! You had to own property to vote! Let go of the Founding Fathers stuff.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Marty, guess I'd made a good cop (snarky, sorry). Here's my point to you, we have never had a discussion on economics and our country's debt woes. You don't know what positions I hold on economics, you have assume that because I have a liberal position on equality, I must be liberal on all positions. Simply not true. I can't be a capitalist real estate developer and a fiscal liberal at the same time.
Marty Warren February 21, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Paul, You cannot be a liberal and be fiscally responsible. You can be a blue dog democrat and be fiscally responsible, but not a liberal. That would be like a conservative who supports obamacare. People can claim to be a conservative and support obamacare, but it wouldn't be logical
Marty Warren February 21, 2012 at 09:00 PM
My first question sparked quite the debate. I've got another one and here goes. When the senate makes gay marraige legal, what will be the new legal definition of marraige?. It used to be one man and one woman. What will it be now. Two consenting adults? (Incest) 1 man and 2 woman or 2 men and 1 woman? Please don't go crazy with insults, I'm trying to make a point. What will the new legal definition of marraige be?
Steve Kolbe February 21, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Marty, here's the legislation. http://mlis.state.md.us/2012rs/bills/hb/hb0438t.pdf There are some differences with a corresponding bill in the Senate, but if I were to pull my crystal ball out for a moment, I'll predict that the legislative community approves HB438 in its current form, rather than see two different bills go to conference. Hope that helps.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Delete Paul Amirault 3:17 pm on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Buzz, first let me get this off my chest. The snarky snarky comments and insults are not appreciated, I react the way I did with the exact same tone. We will get along much better if those are avoided. Regarding the matter at hand, I read Marty Warren's comments regarding his fiscal concerns completely differently than you did. You interpreted them one way and Casey and I interpreted them completely differently. If the only thing anybody worries about is their fiscal concerns, this country/state is headed for a whole bunch of more trouble. I have noticed that you have not commented or made an opinion on the merits of this bill or any other topic discussed on this forum. Correct me if I am wrong, but that appears to be intentional on your part, which is to avoid taking any positions publicly on this forum.
Paul Amirault February 21, 2012 at 09:25 PM
You misunderstood my post, I said a "liberal position". I have liberal positions and conservative positions (labels really don't help). I don't like "blue dog" either because many have socially conservative positions that I don't like. Different point on cost, more marriages helps a lot of businesses. Caterers, wedding attire, etc.
Marty Warren February 21, 2012 at 09:34 PM
That link did much more than help. It answered my question completely. Another minor concern of mine was, will religious institutions be forced to perform wedding and they will not. Thanks
Buzz Beeler February 22, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Paul, remember you set the tone of the conversation with your first comment by using the word "lying" in reference to my remarks about Del. Olszewski, Jr. I look at what is stated and leave the personal issues out of it. Otherwise I cannot be objective as a writer. This quote also concerns me: "If the only thing anybody worries about is their fiscal concerns, this country/state is headed for a whole bunch of more trouble." We as a nation are already in deep trouble and you as a businessman should realize that. You make no mention of those issues. I believe that depending on what happens in Europe over the short term we are facing a global economic disaster. After reading the tone of the comments on this subject I choose not engage in that issue. Well over 300 comments and where are we, still at square one.
Paul Amirault February 22, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Buzz, last points on this subject as well. I promptly corrected my statement as it was not intended to,quote you as "lying", but I could see how you took it that way. I understand you try to take personal issues out of things, but I felt your tone changed, thus I took offense. The quote that concerns you is intended to follow "anybody" and "their" on an individual basis as that was the subject of the entire post. One individual's concerns that fiscal matters (and how they affect him) is his only concern worries me. Regarding International financial matters, the world has a mess on its hands. PS - you should go read the Huffington article on the phone calls Kach received prior to his vote, it is interesting.
Kenny Pahr February 22, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Many of the founding fathers wanted to end slavery but they needed the states to ratify the Constitution so they left it alone at that time. Slavery was an embedded part of all societies as were the limitations on women's rights at the time. They did create the amendment process which ultimately give women the right to vote and ended slavery. Unbelievable disrespect for our founding fathers on here.
Kenny Pahr February 22, 2012 at 04:36 AM
The issue of gay marriage is not an economic one; it is one of morality. Also, I don't know what country some of you think you are from but we are undeniably a predominately Christian nation. We respect all religions but we were founded on Judeo-Christian morality and most of our citizens consider themselves Christians. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." I'm sorry, but I don't see 'separation of church and state' in this 1st amendment.
Casey A February 22, 2012 at 06:49 AM
Kenny - I disagree. I do not think the United States is a Christian nation. If the founding fathers would have wanted the U.S. to be a Christian nation, they would have written God into the Constitution. God is not mentioned once in the Constitution. In addition, Article six of the Constitution says, "No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." If the founding fathers wanted the U.S. to be a Christian nation, wouldn't they have wanted Christian leaders? There is also the treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1797, which says, "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion."

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