Opponents and supporters of a gay
marriage bill on Tuesday packed a Maryland Senate committee hearing
The Judicial Proceedings Committee
hearing held this year's first public debate on the measure which
seeks to make Maryland the seventh state to legalize gay marriage.
The committee's first speaker was
Governor Martin O'Malley, who introduced the bill last week.
O'Malley argued that his bill was
necessary to ensure the children of gay couples are protected.
“We all want the same thing for our
children – the opportunity to live in loving, caring, committed and
stable homes protected equally under the law,” O'Malley testified.
“It's not right and it is not just that the children of gay couples
should have lesser protections than the children of other families in
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings
Blake told the panel that the measure was about civil rights: “All
couples, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve the same legal
protection and rights under the law.
The measure is expected to face few
obstacles clearing the committee or the full Senate, which approved a
similar bill last year. However, the bill lost in the House of
Delegates – a loss which supporters hope not to repeat this year.
One opponent of the measure testified
that its religious
exemptions were flawed because they did not extend to private
businesses and individuals. Another objected to marriage
equality because science has yet to determine whether sexual
orientation is an immutable characteristic and used recent
comments by actress Cynthia Nixon to back up her claim.
A vote on the measure is expected
within the next two weeks.