Yesterday, for Valentines’ Day, my wife joined me on a date to lobby our state senator, Ed Reilly, to support Maryland Senate Bill 116, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. Sponsored by Equality Maryland, a group of about 20 made our way into Senator Reilly’s office to petition his backing on the legislation.
Mr. Reilly was a gracious host and attentive listener. Several people gave impassioned speeches; from my dear wife relating a story of a veteran in the VA Hospital suffering from dementia and who’s partner of several years was unable to be involved in the process of determining long term care to the gentleman behind us who spoke of being in a monogamous relationship with his partner for 21 years, raising two adopted children and putting them through college and starting families of their own, lamenting that they are unable to be recognized as spouses in their home state.
When we were finished with our reasoning for supporting marriage equality, Mr. Reilly made clear that he appreciated everyone for taking the time to share these moving stories with him and expressing his empathy for those impacted by lack of equal protections under the law; however, he also explained that as a Catholic, he cannot and could not support marriage equality – that his religious views and values did not enable him to lend his backing to the bill and that he would end up voting no on the legislation. He expressed his consistency for opposing gay marriage, being pro-life, and anti-death penalty on his religious beliefs while reiterating his support for anti-discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
Needless to say our group left his office with the wind out of our sails. However, rather than make this about how religion impacts social equality, time is running out on this piece of legislation with a vote scheduled for tomorrow.
As I write this, one additional vote is needed to pass the state senate. Currently there are three undecideds, all Democrats, and only one is needed to move this legislation forward. If you have a moment and wish to express your opinions on this issue please contact the following:
Sen. John Astle, – firstname.lastname@example.org
Democrat, District 30, Anne Arundel County
Sen. Ulysses Currie – email@example.com
Democrat, District 25, Prince George’s County
Sen. James Rosapepe – firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also do so by clicking here. Please do so today as tomorrow literally will be too late, at least for this legislative session.