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February 2011

3. How did we get to this point? 5. Do same-sex couples already


Overview receive benefits?
A 2005 lawsuit claimed that Maryland‟s
Maryland‟s General Assembly is Under Maryland law2, significant benefits
marriage law was unconstitutional
considering legislation that would are granted to domestic partners,
because it violated the state‟s equal rights
drastically alter our long-standing law including same-sex partners. They
amendment, which bans gender
defining marriage as the union of one include:
discrimination. The state‟s highest court
man and one woman. Marriage,
recognized by societies throughout
disagreed with that claim and, in • Health care facility visitation
September 2007, issued a final ruling
human history, originates in a simple
upholding the law. The court also said,
• Health care decision making, including
biological fact. This unique union of one the capacity to make medical and end-of-
however, that the General Assembly
man and one woman is the only human could overturn the law and redefine life decisions
relationship capable of creating children
and nurturing them together as father and
marriage if it chose to do so. In 2008, the • Organ donation priority
state enacted several measures that grant
mother. specific benefits to domestic • The ability to adopt children

Treating heterosexual and same-sex


partners. Then, in February 2010, • Nursing home room sharing
relationships differently is not unjust
Maryland Attorney General Doug • Funeral arrangements
Gansler issued an opinion that Maryland
discrimination, and upholding the truth of
law does not prohibit the recognition of
• State employee health benefits
marriage does not ignore the rights or
equal dignity of all human persons.
same-sex marriages that are performed • Health and life insurance coverage for
legally in other jurisdictions. As a result, domestic partners at request of employer3
Indeed, Maryland already has granted
many rights to domestic partnerships.
state agencies have been directed to • Exemption from recordation taxes and,
recognize out-of-state same-sex under specific circumstances, state and
Rather, stripping marriage of its unique
marriages as valid in Maryland. county transfer taxes
connection to parenthood erases a child‟s
birthright to a mother and father, and
4. Isn’t opposing same-sex • Exemption from state inheritance
ignores an essential question of why taxes4
government favors marriage between one marriage about discrimination?
man and one woman over all other Support for marriage between one man 6. Isn’t civil marriage a civil
relationships. and one woman is not based on bigotry right that should be available to
against gays and lesbians. The Catholic
Church is very clear that all people have
everyone?
1. How does Maryland law “The fundamental right to marry is not
inherent dignity as children of God. This
define marriage? absolute,” according to Maryland‟s high
includes those who are homosexual. We
“Only a marriage between a man and a court. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme
have a deep commitment to eliminate any
woman is valid in this State.”1 Court only recognizes a fundamental
form of injustice.
right to marry because of marriage‟s
2. What legislation is the Believing that marriage is to be between “inextricable link to procreation, which
General Assembly considering? a man and a woman is not discrimination. necessarily and biologically involves
SB 116 and HB 175 are companion bills Discrimination is understood as the participation (in ways either intimate or
that would legalize same-sex marriage. unjust denial of basic human rights to a remote) by a man and a woman.”5 The
Erroneously entitled the “Religious certain person or group of persons. The state also protects marriage by
Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Church stands against all discrimination considering other limitations before
Act,” the “religious freedom” it refers to and seeks to promote justice for all granting a marriage license, including a
is merely a recognition of what already is people. However, like “equality,” couple‟s age, mental competence, and
provided under the U.S. Constitution. “fairness,” and “civil rights,” the blood relationship.
language of “discrimination” has been
The bill acknowledges that religious Redefining marriage is not a question of
artificially inserted into the discussion on
institutions would not be forced to violate civil rights. The very reason for marriage
marriage. To define marriage as
their religious beliefs by performing – creating and raising children with the
belonging only to the relationship of one
same-sex marriage ceremonies. However, gifts of a father and mother – means it
man and one woman is simply a matter of
the bill would not protect civil marriage; must be between a man and woman. If
recognizing an inescapably unique
it would redefine it. our society is going to dismantle
distinction about this relationship.

Maryland Catholic Conference • www.mdcathcon.org • 301-261-1979 • 410-269-1155


marriage, there is no longer a rational marriage only to those couples capable of future generations.7 “The U.S. Supreme
basis for deciding which relationships procreation. The state merely seeks to Court has traditionally viewed marriage,
should receive special recognition from ensure a stable environment for the not as a vehicle for satisfying the adult
the government. Why do we need to children that do result from this union. couple or individuals, but as „the
redefine marriage, when same-sex foundation of the family and of society,
We know that families struggle and that
couples already receive many benefits? without which there would be neither
the ideal of an intact family with father
Why should we not also grant these civilization nor progress.‟”8 And the U.S.
and mother is not always possible. We
benefits to many other loving and Department of Health and Human
need to do all we can to help couples
committed human relationships, such as Services reports that children raised by
have healthy marriages and support
two elderly siblings who live together? parents in healthy marriages are more
single parents in their heroic roles. But
likely to succeed academically and are
It is clear that there are other avenues for mothers and fathers are not
physically and emotionally healthier.
granting certain rights and benefits to interchangeable and up to the present
They also are less likely to attempt or
couples who are not married. Maryland time, society has never intentionally
commit suicide, be a victim of physical
has already granted many rights to deprived children of their birthright to a
or sexual abuse and abuse drugs or
domestic partnerships. There are many mother and a father.
alcohol.9 The federal government even
ways to protect basic human rights;
invests $150,000,000 a year to promote
9. How does the bill handle the
sacrificing marriage is not one of them.
healthy marriages, recognizing that
rights of individuals or religious marriage serves as a strong and stable
7. Why is the Church opposed to organizations? foundation for society.
redefining marriage? There are no religious freedom
Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a provisions in the bill. The state should Conclusion
sacrament, but it is also a natural not require individuals or institutions to Drastically altering the legal definition of
institution rooted in our biological reality provide services or comply with policies marriage in Maryland by recognizing
as men and women. The union of one that contradict their moral principles, same-sex marriage is not necessary to
man and one woman is the only human either as a condition of employment or as achieve benefits because they already
relationship capable of creating children a condition of participation in a public exist in law. Instead, approving a same-
and nurturing them together as father and program. sex marriage bill would significantly
mother. Marriage is therefore properly undermine the legal, social, and cultural
entrusted only to them. As such, 10. Why does marriage matter status of marriage that is appropriately
marriage is not an arbitrary recognition of to the state? assigned only to the union of one man
one relationship among many As the Maryland Court of Appeals stated and one woman.
possibilities. in its 2007 ruling upholding Maryland‟s
While marriage benefits both husband marriage statute, “In light of the Contact your legislators NOW and
and wife, the legal protections afforded fundamental nature of procreation, … encourage them to preserve marriage
this relationship are most important for safeguarding an environment most in Maryland.
children. A child deserves a stable and conducive to the stable propagation and
nurturing environment that is best continuance of the human race is a Go to www.mdcathcon.org
provided by the marriage of his or her legitimate government interest.”6 _____________________
biological mother and father. Our focus The state grants privileges to, and 1 Maryland Family Law §2–201.
as a society should be on strengthening demands responsibilities of, marriage
2 SB 566 and SB 597 passed into law in 2008.
3 See the Insurance Article of the Maryland Code,
marriage, not dismantling it altogether, between man and woman to promote the Section 15-403.2 and Section 17-209.
especially when the harmful effects of the procreation of children and provide for
4 SB 785 passed into law in 2009.
5 Conaway v. Deane, Court of Appeals of Maryland,
erosion of marriage are so apparent. their proper care. The legal union and the September, 2007.
6 Ibid.
benefits that come with it provide an
8. What does the Church say to impetus for couples to stay together.
7 W. Bradford Wilcox et al. 2005. Why Marriage
Matters, Second Edition: Twenty-Six Conclusions
couples without children or There is no compelling reason for the from the Social Sciences. Institute for American
Values at www.americanvalues.org.
families of divorce? state to involve itself in a sexual 8 Maynard v. Hill 125 U.S. 190, 211 (1888), quoted in
For many couples, fertility is a struggle, relationship between two people that by How Does Legalizing “Same-Sex Marriage” Deny the
True Nature of Marriage? USCCB
or they find one another later in life. But its very nature cannot naturally lead to www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/samesexeng.shtml.
the fact that a child is not conceived children. 9 Maynard v. Hill reported in U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services;
when a husband and wife join together http://www.acf.hhs.gov/healthymarriage/about/mission
does not make their union lesser. 11. So, marriage helps keep .html#background.
Together in marriage, they still mirror the society intact?
two parts of society – man and woman. The stability of marriage is inextricably
Clearly it would be intrusive, and connected to the stability of the social
unnecessary, for the state to limit order, and to the continued stability of

Maryland Catholic Conference • www.mdcathcon.org • 301-261-1979 • 410-269-1155