A hearing in the Maryland House to
consider Governor Martin O'Malley's plan to make Maryland the next
state to legalize gay marriage turned emotional on Friday.
The joint hearing included members of
the Judiciary Committee and the Health and Government Relations
Committee. Both panels will consider the measure.
A gay marriage bill last year narrowly
managed to clear the Judiciary Committee before it fizzled in the
House. With two panels voting on the bill, a positive outcome in
either could be used as justification to send the legislation to the
“It is not right or just that the
children of gay couples should have lesser protections than the
children of other families in our state,” O'Malley told the panel.
“Nor would it be right to force religious institutions to conduct
marriages that conflict with their own religious beliefs and
At the hearing, O'Malley was flanked by
two African American ministers, who also testified in support of the
The grueling 11-hour hearing included
many heated moments as dozens of supporters and opponents testified.
An exchange between Delegate Luiz R. S.
Simmons, a Democrat from Montgomery, and a panel of religious leaders
opposed to marriage equality became tense when Simmons questioned the
“I have heard no evidence at all how
same sex marriage affects your families, the church … There's not a
syllable of evidence. You just don't like it,” Simmons said.
Emotions flared throughout the day,
including when a man who claimed to have altered his sexuality (he
said it was like coming off heroin) and his daughter testified.
Under questioning from lawmakers, the daughter said she would not
support her father if he decided to marry a man.
The committees could vote on the
measure as soon as next week.