Friday, December 30, 2005

Virginia & Maryland anti-gay priorities: Discrimination & second-class citizenship

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According to an article published by The Washington Times (not the Post, people... the Times is a conservative paper), anti-gay activists are putting the protection of "traditional marriage" at the top of their list of priorities in the new year Virginia and Maryland legislative sessions. Virginia's lawmakers have already approved an amendment banning recognition of same-sex relationships (including civil unions, domestic partnerships, and things as simple as wills and power-of-attorney agreements) but it has yet to be approved to go before voters. The amendment must pass in the assembly again in 2006 before it is allowed to go before voters. Maryland has repeatedly failed such an amendment:
Complicating the debate in Maryland is a lawsuit filed by nine same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses this year. The lawsuit is pending in Baltimore City Circuit Court, and a ruling is expected soon. Maryland law defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman, but family groups pledge to continue lobbying for a constitutional definition because of the pending lawsuit. "We don't think the one judge should be making decisions that affect not only Maryland culture, but the national culture," said Doug Stiegler, executive director of the Family Protection Lobby. He said Maryland's 1973 marriage law does not go far enough, and complained that lawmakers have blocked proposed marriage amendments from full floor votes in the Democrat-controlled House and Senate. If a proposed amendment passes both chambers by a three-fifths majority, it will go to voters in November. Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, said he thinks a constitutional amendment subjects the rights of one group to popular vote. "I would like to think that Maryland legislators have indicated they are not interested in limiting people's rights," he said.
In Virginia, it looks as though the assembly will again approve of the proposed amendment, meaning that it would head to voters in November 2006. ====== Well... what can I say? I think it is very clear; discrimination is alive and well in the Virginia and Maryland (athough Maryland has an upper hand by having fair-minded legislators, which is something Virginia cannot claim). My family has property in Virginia and I have often contemplated moving to that property when I get older and commuting to work in Winston-Salem (only about a 45 minute drive). After what has happened in Virginia and their passing of a statute outlawing any type of legal recognition of same-sex couples, including wills and power of attorney agreements, I don't think I'll be moving to Virginia. It's a shame, too... my family settled in that area in the 1750s and my family has been around there since then. Oh well. Technorati Tags: , , , , ,