This week Gov. Martin O’Malley introduced a marriage equality bill as a part of his legislative package for the year. At his press conference Gov. O’Malley’s announced, “We are going to be successful in this legislative session by recognizing the dignity in one another, by recognizing the common humanity we all share.” The bill is scheduled to be debated on January 31st during the Senate Judicial Proceedings hearing and will not last more than four hours.
The new bill contains clearly defined religious protections which have been expanded since the state’s former marriage equality bill was debated in 2011. The new language states that each religious entity “has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine, policy teachings, and beliefs regarding who may marry within that faith.” Openly gay Delegate Heather Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) said the language was expanded to “include provisions from other states that have passed marriage equality with religious exemptions, just to take away any ambiguity…it’s just a more wordy way of providing for religious exemption.”
Gov. O’Malley has also pledged his support for the states’ transgender protections bill. If approved, the bill would ban discrimination against gender identity in housing, credit, and employment. “I support it wholeheartedly,” the Governor said. However, this bill will not be a part of his legislative package.