‘We are not consideringcivil unions’
By KEVIN NAFFknaff@washblade.com
BALTIMORE — A diverse coalition of organizations announced plans Tuesdayto push for a same-sex marriage bill inMaryland during the 2012 legislativesession, which begins in January.Led by Progressive Maryland, the coalitionis dubbed Marylanders for Marriage Equalityand includes Equality Maryland, the HumanRights Campaign, ACLU, Service EmployeesInternational Union 1199, Maryland Catholicsfor Equality and a number of other religiousorganizations.Coalition members gathered at asweltering morning news conference in frontof Baltimore’s City Hall to announce theirplans, just weeks after New York’s legislatureapproved a marriage equality measure.“I believe in equality for allBaltimoreans,” said Mayor StephanieRawlings-Blake. “Baltimore will continueto stand with you in Annapolis.”Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Mont. Co.),when asked by the Washington Bladewhether the coalition would considera civil unions bill in lieu of marriage inthe event of a referendum threat, saidunequivocally that civil unions are anunacceptable compromise.
It is marriage and only marriage— we are not considering a civil unionsbill,” said Madaleno, the only openly gaymember of the state Senate. “We will wina referendum if it gets that far.”Gov. Martin O’Malley did not attend thenews conference, but has said since 2007that he would sign a marriage equality billif the legislature can pass it. Del. MaggieMcIntosh, a lesbian and the most seniormember of the LGBT Caucus in the Houseof Delegates, said the coalition is in talkswith O’Malley about taking a more visibleand public role in advocating for the bill.O’Malley was criticized by some marriagerights supporters earlier this year for hisperceived lack of visibility on the issue, whichcomes in stark contrast to New York Gov.Andrew Cuomo, who is widely credited withchampioning the issue in the Empire State.McIntosh said marriage equalitysupporters have asked O’Malley toinclude the bill in the administration’s 2012legislative package and that an answer onthat request could come within weeks.“The governor and the delegates havehad discussions about this recently,”O’Malley spokesperson Raquel Guillorytold the Blade after the news conference.“He is supportive of the new push and weare reaching out to a broad coalition of folksand discussing what steps we take next.”Guillory didn’t say whether O’Malleywould include the marriage bill in hisadministrative package.“The governor was very clear last yearthat he would sign a marriage bill if itcrossed his desk and that position hasnot changed,” she said. “He remainssupportive.”Asked why O’Malley didn’t attendtoday’s news conference, Guillory said,“This was an event organized by thedelegates and [Rich] Madaleno — thiswas their event, it wasn’t the governor’sannouncement.”She added that the difference betweenthe successful New York effort and thevery visible role Cuomo played in it andO’Malley’s approach to the issue is merelya matter of style.
CONTINUES AT WASHINGTONBLADE.COM
02 • JULY 15, 2011LOCAL NEWS
New effort to win marriageunderway in Maryland
‘Today’ show anchorsto visit Rehoboth
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — Popular “Today” show anchors Hoda Kotband Kathie Lee Gifford are scheduled to visit Rehoboth Beach on July 23 totake part in a special day honoring Kotb.Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue is promoting “Rehoda BeachDay” and in addition to both Gifford and Kotb signing copies of theirrespective books, other local businesses will be offering special gifts.Steve Crane, owner of Browseabout, which has been a staple at the gay-popular beach resort for more than three decades, said, “there will belots of surprises that day including a Kathie deLeecious Ice Cream treat,prepared by a local ice cream emporium. The day will likely include a visitto a favorite spot of Hoda’s, The Coffee Mill.The “Today” show featured the gay-owned Rehoboth coffee shop on itsshow on June 13. Mel Damascena, an owner of the Coffee Mill, presentedcoffee to Kotb and Gifford during a segment in which Kotb identified herfavorite places.The Coffee Mill is the longest continually operated gay-owned coffeeshop in Rehoboth Beach, having served coffee at its current location inRehoboth Mews since 1992.Damascena and his partner Bob Cartwright purchased it from two lesbiancouples in November 2009, and now sell more than 100 varieties of organiccoffees.Damascena said Kotb’s mother, a regular summer visitor to RehobothBeach, is a long-time customer of the Coffee Mill and introduced herdaughter to it.“Hoda loves this place so much that she is known to spend hours talkingto customers and generally enjoying the ambiance,” he said.
(right) stopped by gay-ownedCoffee Mill in Rehoboth Beach last month.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MEL DAMASCEN
(center), a lesbian member of the Maryland House of Delegates,announced plans for a new marriage bill at a news conference Tuesday. At left is Baltimore Mayor
WASHINGTON BLADE PHOTO