Released January 25, 2011
Press statement of Melissa Goemann, ACLU of Maryland Legislative Director,
in support of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act:
The ACLU of Maryland believes the time is now to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. It has been a long struggle to realize the promise of marriage equality and the security and peace of mind it would bring to thousands of committed same-sex couples and their families in Maryland. But each day, we see the tide turning in public opinion as support grows for legal protections and specifically marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
With recent gains overturning the federal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for the military and the Maryland attorney general opinion last year advising state agencies to recognize the valid out of state marriages of same-sex couples, the political landscape is changing. Thankfully, our state elected leaders are hearing our message and boldly moving toward equality.
Thousands of committed couples and their families in our state live in legal limbo without the rights and protections that come along with marriage. Without civil marriage, same-sex couples will continue to be barred from visiting their partners in the hospital and excluded from decisions about emergency medical care; left with nothing if their partners die without well-executed wills; and unable to make funeral arrangements.
A bill granting marriage licenses will establish full rights and much-needed legal protections for same-sex couples and their families while confirming the freedom of religious groups to define and recognize religious marriage consistent with their beliefs and practices without state interference. The dignity and worth of all families in Maryland should be recognized by the state.
It’s the right thing to do and it’s the right time to do it.