Maryland Catholic Conference • www.mdcathcon.org • 301
1979 • 410
Maryland‟s General Assembly is
considering legislation that woulddrastically alter our long-standing lawdefining marriage as the union of oneman and one woman. Marriage,recognized by societies throughouthuman history, originates in a simplebiological fact. This unique union of oneman and one woman is the only humanrelationship capable of creating childrenand nurturing them together as father andmother.
Treating heterosexual and same-sexrelationships differently is not unjustdiscrimination, and upholding the truth of marriage does not ignore the rights or equal dignity of all human persons.Indeed, Maryland already has grantedmany rights to domestic partnerships.Rather, stripping marriage of its uniqueconnection to parenthoo
d erases a child‟s
birthright to a mother and father, andignores an essential question of whygovernment favors marriage between oneman and one woman over all other relationships.
1. How does Maryland lawdefine marriage?
“Only a marriage between a man
woman is valid in this State.”
2. What legislation is theGeneral Assembly considering?
SB 116 and HB 175 are companion billsthat would legalize same-sex marriage.
Erroneously entitled the “Religious
Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection
Act,” the “religious freedom” it refers to
is merely a recognition of what already isprovided under the U.S. Constitution.
The bill acknowledges that religiousinstitutions would not be forced to violatetheir religious beliefs by performingsame-sex marriage ceremonies. However,the bill would not protect civil marriage;it would redefine it.
3. How did we get to this point?
A 2005 lawsuit claimed that Maryland‟s
marriage law was unconstitutional
because it violated the state‟s equal rights
amendment, which bans gender
discrimination. The state‟s highest court
disagreed with that claim and, inSeptember 2007, issued a final rulingupholding the law. The court also said,however, that the General Assemblycould overturn the law and redefinemarriage if it chose to do so. In 2008, thestate enacted several measures that grantspecific benefits to domesticpartners. Then, in February 2010,Maryland Attorney General DougGansler issued an opinion that Marylandlaw does not prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages that are performedlegally in other jurisdictions. As a result,state agencies have been directed torecognize out-of-state same-sexmarriages as valid in Maryland.
4. Isn’t opposing same
-sexmarriage about discrimination?
Support for marriage between one manand one woman is not based on bigotryagainst gays and lesbians. The CatholicChurch is very clear that all people haveinherent dignity as children of God. Thisincludes those who are homosexual. Wehave a deep commitment to eliminate anyform of injustice.
Believing that marriage is to be betweena man and a woman is not discrimination.Discrimination is understood as theunjust denial of basic human rights to acertain person or group of persons. TheChurch stands against all discriminationand seeks to promote justice for all
people. However, like “equality,”“fairness,” and “civil rights,” thelanguage of “discrimination” has been
artificially inserted into the discussion onmarriage. To define marriage asbelonging only to the relationship of oneman and one woman is simply a matter of recognizing an inescapably uniquedistinction about this relationship.
5. Do same-sex couples alreadyreceive benefits?
Under Maryland law
, significant benefitsare granted to domestic partners,including same-sex partners. Theyinclude:
Health care facility visitation
Health care decision making, includingthe capacity to make medical and end-of-life decisions
Organ donation priority
The ability to adopt children
Nursing home room sharing
State employee health benefits
Health and life insurance coverage for domestic partners at request of employer
Exemption from recordation taxes and,under specific circumstances, state andcounty transfer taxes
Exemption from state inheritancetaxes
. Isn’t civil marriage a civil
right that should be available toeveryone?
“The fundamental right to marry is not
absolute,” according to Maryland‟s
highcourt. Furthermore, the U.S. SupremeCourt only recognizes a fundamentalright to marry because
of marriage‟s“inextricable link to
procreation, whichnecessarily and biologically involvesparticipation (in ways either intimate or remote) by
a man and a woman.”
Thestate also protects marriage byconsidering other limitations beforegranting a marriage license, including a
age, mental competence, andblood relationship.
Redefining marriage is not a question of civil rights. The very reason for marriage
creating and raising children with thegifts of a father and mother
means itmust be between a man and woman. If our society is going to dismantle