BALTIMORE (BP)–Partisan divisions in the Maryland legislature may spell doom for a proposed constitutional marriage amendment there, even though a state judge in January sided with homosexual activists and ordered “gay marriage” to be legalized.
Although that ruling is being appealed, Republicans and several Democrats want to see the legislature send an amendment to voters this fall. The House of Delegates and Senate are controlled by Democrats.
On Feb. 2, supporters of an amendment in the House were ready to force a floor debate when Speaker Michael E. Busch, a Democrat, gaveled the session to a close, just seconds after prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the Washington Post reported. Apparently, Busch had discovered that amendment supporters had gathered the 47 signatures required to pull the amendment out of committee without a committee vote. Four Democrats signed the petition.
“They stuffed us!” Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell, a Republican and amendment supporter, exclaimed after Busch’s action, the Post said.
Busch’s parliamentary move allowed a committee to defeat the amendment that afternoon. The committee debate also turned partisan, with Democrats changing the amendment so that it also legalized same-sex civil unions, which grant homosexual couples some of the benefits of marriage, the Baltimore Sun reported. After debate, the amendment was defeated 22-0, with seven Republicans voting against it because of the civil unions language, the Sun said.
“[Democrats] have basically subverted the process to keep the people of this state from being able to vote on this important issue,” Del. Herbert H. McMillan, a Republican, said, according to the Sun. “The key issue we believe is that the people of this state, not the courts, should decide this issue.”
Because the committee defeated the amendment, supporters now would need 71 signatures — and not the 47 as before — to force a floor debate, the Sun reported. The 141-member House has only 43 Republicans.
Democrats fear that a marriage amendment on the November ballot would bring out conservative voters and help Republicans.
At the end of the day Feb. 2, Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. was fully behind a marriage amendment.
“A constitutional amendment should be offered, should be put on the ballot and the people should decide,” Ehrlich said at a news conference, according to the Sun.
Later, during an interview on WBAL radio, Ehrlich said: “There is maybe in modern Maryland history no more concrete an example as this particular session as reflecting the profound philosophical difference between the parties today…. When I’m talking about the parties, I’m talking about the leadership. I don’t believe for a minute that the majority of Democrats in the state support gay marriage.”
The amendment has even divided black House Democrats, some of whom say that because their constituents support an amendment, they would, too.
The proposed amendment would add language to the Maryland constitution protecting the natural definition of marriage. It would trump any state court ruling.
AMENDMENT ADVANCES IN IDAHO — An Idaho House committee passed a constitutional marriage amendment Feb. 2 by a 13-4 margin, sending it to the full House, KTVB-TV in Boise reported. It must pass by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate in order to be placed on the ballot.
An amendment failed to pass the Senate last year, falling three votes short of a two-thirds majority.
CANADIAN HOPES DASHED? — A vote in the Canadian House of Commons to repeal the nation’s “gay marriage” law would be tight but likely fail, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported Feb. 1.
According to a tabulation by the Toronto newspaper, 153 members of Parliament (MPs) would vote to keep the law and 136 would vote to repeal it. When questioned by the paper, the remaining 19 MPs either “would not comment or said … they would abstain, follow their constituents’ wishes or had not yet made up their minds.” The bill in the 308-member Parliament would need 155 votes to pass — meaning that, if the tabulation is correct, supporters of “gay marriage” would need only two more votes.
Prime-minister designate Stephen Harper has promised a vote to repeal the law. Harper’s Conservative party won a minority government during the January national election.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage