Same-sex marriage bill in Maryland set to be signed

The Takeaway

State House in Annapolis, Maryland. The building houses the governor as well as the Maryland General Assembly. (Photo by Flick user Thisisbossi.)

Marriage equality is gaining increasing support in the Northeast. The Maryland Senate approved a bill in favor of same-sex marriage, and Governor Martin O'Malley's indicated he will sign it on Thursday

The bill, which has been supported by former Vice President Dick Cheney as well as actor Michael K. Williams who famously portrayed an openly homosexual "stick-up man" on The Wire among other roles, is not the first of its kind to appear in Maryland. Last year, a similar bill died after being passed by the state senate. Same-sex marriage has drawn the ire of some socially conservative residents of Maryland. However, Rev. Delman Coates, of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., has come out in support of the bill.

"My support for the Civil Marriage Protection Act is rooted in my heartfelt sense that in America we have to protect public policy from personal and private theology and personal belief," Coates said. The principles of our country are founded upon the ideals of our constitution, which protect religious freedom and institutional autonomy yet at the same time preserve individual liberty as well."

While Maryland currently recognizes same-sex marriage, the states does not grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Should the bill pass, Maryland would be the eighth state in the U.S., as well as the District of Columbia, to do so.

"Governments fund things that are against people's religious beliefs, personal theology doctrine, all the time," Coates said. "Right now our local governments and municipalities allow for alcohol establishments, liquor stores in communities, gambling, yet at the same time, religious institutions teach their parishioners not to engage in these activities. What I've seen in this conversation, and what I've attempted to help people understad, is that there's a difference between our public policy imperatives and our theological imperatives."

A similar bill passed in New Jersey recently was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, who said he believes the matter should be put to popular vote. The state of New Hampshire is also considering revoking its approval of same-sex marriage after Republicans swept to power in the House and Senate. That bills prospects, though, are uncertain.