Coalition Formed to Fight Same-Sex Marriage in Md.

Group includes representation from Prince George's Baptist Ministers Association.

By Jessica Talson

Capital News Service

A number of organizations announced the creation of a new interfaith coalition on Wednesday that will oppose same-sex marriage during the 2012 legislative session in Annapolis.

A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was narrowly defeated in 2011. Both sides started preparing immediately for 2012, and vowed to return more organized and with increased support. Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to take a more prominent role and will sponsor a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

But members of the Maryland Marriage Alliance believe that marriage should be defined solely as a union between one woman and one man, and that protecting traditional marriage is vital for society.

"Our nation has thrived on the fabric of the family," said Pastor Joel Peebles of Jericho City of Praise in Landover.

The group is recruiting interfaith religious leaders and community members who will urge their legislators to vote against the legalization of gay marriage. The Maryland Marriage Alliance is led by Pastor Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Family Alliance.

Coalition members say that changing the definition of marriage would impede on religious freedoms.

"It is not discrimination to treat fundamentally different things differently," said Deacon Al Douglas Turner, director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Archdiocese of Washington.

The issue of same-sex marriage has been heavily debated in Maryland and around the nation for the past few years.

During the 2010 legislative session, several bills were introduced that opposed same-sex marriage. One bill invalidated same-sex marriages that were entered into legally in other states or countries. A second bill would have essentially brought the question of same-sex marriage to Maryland voters. Both bills failed.

In 2011, . Many expected the bill would pass without problems through the House, which is traditionally more liberal than the Senate. However, pressure from constituents and religious groups .

The defeat of the same-sex marriage bill in the 2011 session galvanized both sides of the debate.

"When it became more obvious that the threat was real, the faith community and other supporters of marriage rose up," said Pastor Victor Kirk of Sharon Bible Fellowship in Lanham, and a representative of the Prince George's Baptist Ministers Association.

Proponents have also been organizing support.

Groups such as Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of political, religious and community groups, are working to legalize same-sex marriage. Members of Marylanders for Marriage Equality include the Baltimore chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Equality Maryland and community members who support same-sex marriage.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research group, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and the District of Columbia have all legalized same-sex marriage. California is in the midst of a legal battle over same-sex marriage.

Maryland Marriage Alliance members say that the has made some same-sex marriage supporters feel like passage is all but inevitable next year.

"We have something to say about that inevitability, and with all humility let me say, bring it on," Kirk said.

Editor's note: Because of a misunderstanding, a story about a coalition formed to fight against same-sex marriage legislation had the name of one of the speakers incorrect. It should be Deacon Al Douglas Turner, director of the Office of Black Catholics for the Archdiocese of Washington. We regret the error.

Darian Lewis December 02, 2011 at 07:06 PM
This will violate their tax free status rights under IRS rules, Section 501(c)(3) of US Code Title 26, which governs tax-exempt organizations. If you agree, as does our legal system, that churches should NOT be involved in politics, then please take the time to fill out IRS Form 13909 and let the IRS know that the offending church wishes to give up their tax-free status in order to influence the political system.
oldtwnlaurel December 02, 2011 at 08:07 PM
No Darian it dose not. The idea that Churches may not be involved in issues oriented politics violates the First Amendment, namely the free exercise, free speech, right to petition, and right to association clauses, and completely misreads the establishment clause. Churches, like all other nonprofit organizations, are restricted from endorsing specific candidates, and even then there is wiggle room in the tax code.
Pamela Torro December 02, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Yep - you are exactly right.
michael mcardle December 03, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Like Ted Olsen, a past Solicitor General in the Bush Administration and one of the principal architects of the Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, I find the argument regarding the necessity of the state - broadly defined, to include federal, state and local government - involving itself (and thus embroiling us) in a polemical cage match over this issue to be, well, specious at this particular point in our history. Ted caught a tremendous amount of grief from fellow conservatives and many Republicans for his stand; on a much more modest level, I am sure I will now hear from old friends and strangers alike by taking the position that two consenting adults should be treated under the law in the same manner irrespective of their gender when it comes to the LEGAL institution of marriage. Granted, there is an argument to be made concerning intertwinement of the legal and the religious recognition of the institution; but the battleground that is forming here appears once again to be highly ideological, not pragmatic. This is NOT an issue of the preservation or immoral cessation of life based on an individual's own, personal interpretation of when life begins. It IS an issue of personal interpretation of what constitutes a committed relationship, a partnership in raising a child, and what the state should become involved in regarding these matters.
std December 04, 2011 at 09:54 PM
marriage is a legal contract as well as a religious rite. leave the legal alone and attend to your religious rites.who cares if they get married. it doesnt affect anyone else but the people concerned. gay couple are forming families where children are treasured and loved also.. as to your traditional marriage i believe it was an original means to cement or coerce tribal obligations or do you refer to the traditional part where women and chilren were chattle or the property and under the complete control of the man. is this the cherished part you want to get back to???please!!!!!!


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