Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley introduced the Civil Marriage Protection Act in the Maryland General Assembly January 23. The bill promotes marriage equality for all committed couples and protects religious freedom. It is similar to a bill that died in committee last year, but includes extended religious protections.

The Baltimore Sun reported on January 25 that the bill includes four changes from last year: “It is now stated that religious leaders, as well as their institutions, are protected from lawsuits; that the state can’t withhold funds to penalize a religious institution that does not recognize same-sex marriages; and that the state can’t dictate religious doctrine. There also is an attempt to clarify that some programs run by religious institutions can exclude same-sex couples.”

A January 29 Washington Post poll found that 50 percent of Marylanders now support gay and lesbian couples getting married; 44 percent are opposed.

The bill is endorsed by the Maryland State Bar Association and the AFL-CIO in Maryland. Currently seven jurisdictions currently allow same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Equality Maryland’s Executive Director Carrie Evans is encouraging supporter of the bill to participate in weekly phone banks to call voters in key districts and attend the February 13 Lobby Day in Annapolis. Visit EqualityMaryland.org/events.

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