February 3, 2010

Legislators block out-of-state gay marriage ban

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Without debate or discussion, the House Judiciary Committee killed a bill that would have invalidated in Maryland same-sex marriage performed in other states.

The vote was 12-8 to reject the legislation sponsored by Del. Emmett Burns, a Democratic Baltimore County minister. All six Republicans on the committee voted for the bill, joined by Democrats Gerron Levi, of Prince George’s County, and Kevin Kelly, of Allegany County.

The vote was not a surprise to Judiciary Chairman Joseph Vallario, D-Prince George’s, who did not vote, as is customary. Vallario said that 12 members of the committee had co-sponsored legislation last year to allow same-sex marriages in Maryland.

“If that bill’s got 12 sponsors, none of them are going to vote for this bill” to reject same-sex marriage, Vallario said.

Despite sponsorship from a majority of the 22-member committee, last year’s attempt to permit gay marriage never made it out of committee.

Maryland currently has a law on the books that says marriage is between one man and one woman, a law that has been upheld by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

No bills have been introduced this year in either the House or Senate to broadly sanction gay marriage in Maryland. But Attorney General Doug Gansler is studying whether to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. He has not said when he will rule.

–Len Lazarick