Marriage Is and Will Always Be About Love

Lea Gillmore, outreach director for the Maryland Black Family Alliance, responds to an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun by Peter Sprigg of the anti-gay Family Research Council. Sprigg argued against the Maryland Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act because he says that the government's only possible reason for recognizing marriage is to promote having children. His anti-marriage piece also drew an outpouring of negative responses from Sun readers.

I am a straight African American woman who is married to a reverend, and I support marriage for ALL couples. Peter Sprigg from the “Family Research Council” would try to convince you that people like me don’t exist, but the truth is I’m just like many other Marylanders who do not consider marriage equality to be a threat to me or my community. Nor do I agree, as Mr. Sprigg suggests in his Feb. 1 op-ed, that allowing committed couples to marry would “utterly transform” the meaning of my family.
Marriage at its core is about committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other. This transcends race, color, creed, religion and even sexual orientation. Both straight and gay couples want to build a life with someone, and it’s wrong to stand in the way of the legal protections that help support a strong family.
Mr. Sprigg’s positions are dangerous and perpetuate inaccurate information about the importance of marriage equality.  His views suggest that gay and lesbian people should not be allowed to visit their partners in the hospital, make emergency medical decisions or even take personal leave when a partner is ill. And let’s not forget that this is a man who once publicly said that it should be against the law to be gay.

This rhetoric is out of touch with the fair-mindedness of Marylanders. We are sensible people who care about doing what’s right. And what’s right is allowing the pillars of our communities — our police officers, teachers, firefighters, business owners — to build a solid family here at home, where they work, pray and pay taxes.
The time to do the right thing is now.
On Tuesday, our General Assembly will officially begin, yet again, the process of deciding whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry here in Maryland. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear arguments from those in favor of the state legally recognizing marriage for same-sex couples and those opposed.

Opponents of marriage for all Marylanders will surely continue attempting to instill fear by depicting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as a “threat” to our community.
I challenge each of us to rise above the fray.