Maryland will offer gay state employees
equal marriage benefits as heterosexual couples, the Washington
The change allows spouses of employees
in a same-sex marriage to be signed up as dependents, a move that
allows them to receive health care and other benefits.
Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat,
announced the change Wednesday.
O'Malley is following through on a
promise that his administration would follow a February gay marriage
opinion by Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. Gansler concluded
that state agencies should recognize the marriages of gay couples
performed in other jurisdictions over the objection of a state law
that bans such unions. The opinion arrived just days before a gay
marriage law in neighboring District of Columbia went into effect.
O'Malley endorsed the opinion, saying
it's “sound advice.”
Lawmakers opposed to giving gay and
lesbian couples the right to marry attempted to block the opinion.
Several Republican lawmakers offered
bills that would have forbidden the state from recognizing the
out-of-state marriages of gay couples, while Maryland
Delegate Don Dwyer failed in his bid to impeach Gansler. Dwyer,
a Republican, cited “willful neglect of duty” in filing his
charges against the state's top attorney in the House.
A Washington Post poll conducted
last month found that 55% of Maryland voters agree that the state
should recognize the unions of gay couples married in another state.
Gay marriage opponents say the public's
increasing acceptance for the institution is a result of support by
“The public is not changing –
politicians are changing,” Delegate Emmett C. Burns, a Democrat and
a Baltimore County pastor, told the paper. “They get elected and
push the gay-lesbian agenda. They are ruthless in aggressively
fashioning it as a form of discrimination, and that's simply not