Huge Turnout and Emotion at Maryland Senate Hearing on Marriage

More than 140 people spoke for eight hours at the Maryland Senate hearing on the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act. Hundreds of people turned out to watch – the vast majority of them in support of the freedom to marry. It was so crowded that an overflow room had to be set up for them to watch the proceedings on TV.

Posted by John Wagner on washingtonpost.com:

"Some of the most powerful testimony Tuesday was offered by an openly gay lawmaker, Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., who called it 'a badge of dishonor' to have to introduce people to his 'partner.'"

"'We had a church wedding 10 years ago this year, and in the eyes of our religion, our families, our friends and in my heart, he is my spouse,' Madaleno (D-Montgomery) said. 'But under Maryland's civil law, he is a legal stranger to me.'"

… "Before the proceedings, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) put the chance of passing a same-sex marriage bill by his chamber at 60 to 70 percent, saying a vote could come next week.

… "Chrysovalantis P. Kefalas, who served as deputy legal counsel to former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). Kefalas said Ehrlich has continued to oppose same-sex marriage. But Kefalas said he considers the legislation to be consistent with Republican principles of freedom and limited government.

"Kefalas also disclosed that he is gay and long struggled to accept his identify.

"'Under present law, I'm considered less of a citizen than many of you,' he told the committee.

"Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (Howard), the only GOP senator to have announced support for the bill, also testified, appearing on the first panel with Madaleno and Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery), the bill's lead sponsor.

"'I don't speak for all Republicans in Maryland, but I speak for a lot of them,' said Kittleman, who stepped down last month as Senate minority leader after getting flak for saying he would introduce a bill allowing civil unions.

"Last week, Kittleman changed his mind and decided to support the marriage bill."


Read the full article here.