Maryland Is Eighth US State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Chris Simkins

Maryland has become the eighth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. But opponents of the new law are vowing to get it overturned by bringing the measure to a referendum and letting the voters decide in November. Maryland is not the only place where same-sex marriage laws are being challenged.

"The way forward is always found through greater respect for the equal rights of all," said Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley as he signed the bill into law.

Maryland joins seven other states and Washington D.C., with laws allowing gay couples to wed. It's been a hotly-debated issue that cuts across political, racial, social and religious backgrounds. Under the new law, gay couples in Maryland would not be able to marry until next year. David Foertschbeck and Dan Wilkey say they're already planning.

"We'll get married next year probably, at some point, but we'll wait until it gets over the hurdle. The last hurdle," said Wilkey.

Opponents of the same-sex law have vowed to bring the measure to a referendum and let the voters decide in November.

"I have in my hands a pencil and it has an eraser on the end. They might as well have signed that bill in lead," said Maryland lawmaker Emmett Burns.

Some African-American churches and clergy members are also pushing for a referendum. They oppose the law, saying it violates their tradition which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Same-sex marriage legislation and laws face obstacles in other states as well. In New Jersey, the legislature passed a bill to allow gays to marry, but the measure was vetoed by the governor.

In California, gay marriage remains on hold since voters there narrowly approved a referendum called "Proposition 8" to ban it in 2008. A federal appeals court has struck down the ban as unconstitutional, but the case is still in litigation. It may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year. However, legal experts say any ruling would only apply to California.

"We believe marriage is between a man and a woman. And whether people like that or not that's what the people want," said George Reilly, a "Proposition 8" supporter.

President Barack Obama says he supports letting states decide, but personally favors so-called "civil unions."

"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I also think that same-sex partners should be able to visit each other in hospitals. They should be able to transfer property," said Obama.

Obama has come under fire from some in the gay community for not supporting national efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. Several states like Illinois, Nevada, and Oregon allow civil unions, but have constitutional amendments or statutes that prohibit same-sex marriage.  Analysts say the debate will continue to intensify during this election year as public opinion polls suggest a majority of Americans support same sex marriage but only by a slim margin.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Godwin 2
March 04, 2012 6:33 AM
for what can be known about God is plane to them…, So they are without excuse, for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

by: Luke
March 03, 2012 6:34 AM
Congratulations Maryland! It pleases me immensely to hear this, especially on a news-day so laden down with the horrific reports of the past week's storms.

I hope that those who seek to shoot it down fail horribly. Equal love, equal rights for all!

by: Bob Skiba
March 03, 2012 2:45 AM
The abolition of slavery "violated tradition," too, but it was the right thing to do.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs