BY ROB SALERNO – Hot on the heels of a US Federal Court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the Maryland Senate passed a law allowing same-sex marriage, by a vote of 25 to 22, Feb 23.
The Senate vote was the last major hurdle for equal marriage in Maryland; the House of Delegates passed same-sex marriage Feb 17. The law was originally sponsored by Governor Martin O’Malley (pictured below), who’s expected to sign the bill into law shortly, making Maryland the eighth state to allow same-sex marriage.
Unfortunately, that’s not where the story ends. Opponents have pledged to initiate a referendum to strike down the law, and they’re trying to collect 55,700 signatures to put it on the November ballot. Human Rights Campaign expects that opponents will get the signatures and that they’ll be fighting the referendum.
In related news, same-sex marriage supporters in Maine collected enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot to overturn a 2009 referendum that struck down the state’s equal marriage law. The secretary of state validated the signatures and on Feb 23 confirmed that the referendum is a go.
Standard US Marriage Equality Boilerplate:
In June, Washington will join New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut,
Massachussetts, Iowa and the District of Columbia in allowing gay
marriage. The status of gay marriage in California is currently the
subject of appeals to the unconstitutionality of the state’s
anti-gay-marriage referendum, Prop 8, which will likely end with a
decision by the Supreme Court. Lawmakers are also debating
the issue in Illinois. Of course, none of these marriages convey the full benefits of marriage
because the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the federal
government from recognizing gay marriages and allows states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Ten countries already allow full marriage equality nationwide:
Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa,
Spain and Sweden. Brazil allows same-sex marriages in theory, through
roundabout rulings of its state and federal Supreme Courts, but they’ve
been performed only in some states. Mexico recognizes same-sex marriages
performed in Mexico City only.
Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere only. There are
ongoing debates about allowing same-sex marriage in the UK, Australia,
Finland and Uruguay, and Denmark is planning to pass same-sex marriage
by June. France’s Socialist Party is expected to campaign on the issue in
national elections this year.