Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard) announced Wednesday that he would sponsor legislation in the upcoming session that would allow civil unions between both heterosexual and same-sex partners.First, it is a Republican proposing this legislation. If you keep in mind that Maryland simultaneously is both the southernmost northern state and the northernmost southern state this makes sense. This is the same legislature where a Democrat proposed two anti-evolution bills. But Republicans have their crazy too, such as the attempt to impeach the attorney general for his legal opinion that out of state same sex unions should be recognized under Maryland law.
Second, the implication is that all unions, hetero- and homosexual, will be termed civil unions. To me, it doesn't matter what you call it as long as couples are allowed the same rights regardless of sexual orientation. As yet, it is not entirely clear whether or not this is the case.
Third (all right, three things), such a bill would protect religious institutions from being forced to perform gay marriage ceremonies. Call me naive, but I thought they already had that right. After all, even though I was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church, I don't think there is a priest around who would have performed a Catholic ceremony if I had wanted one, given that I have not been a practicing Catholic for the past 15 years or so. Of course, nothing in this legislation would prevent a religious institution from performing same-sex unions if they chose to do so.
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Maryland Politics (Baltimore Sun)