Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Maryland Legislation Would End Civil Marriage, Create Domestic Partnerships

From the Washington Post:

Advocates for same-sex marriage plan to introduce legislation in the Maryland General Assembly today that would abolish civil marriage ceremonies now confined to heterosexual unions in the state and replace them with domestic partnerships for all couples.

The bills represent an unusual new tactic in the effort to push legal rights for gay couples through the House and Senate during the legislature's 90-day session. Sponsors of the measure say they are attempting to address head-on the concerns of lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

Under their proposal, all couples -- straight or gay -- would be on equal footing with secular unions. Religious marriage in churches, synagogues and mosques would be unaffected, as would existing civil marriages.

The word "marriage" would be replaced with "valid domestic partnership" in the state's family law code.

This is the way to go, in my opinion. I have long believed that the state has no business being in the marriage business. Marriage is a religious ceremony. The state's role should be to confer legal protections of civil unions or domestic partnerships to straight or gay couples. Then, if the couple wants to be married in a religious ceremony they can find a community that is welcoming. And churches that don't want to marry gays don't have to. They can be as un-Christ-like as they want to be, but it will have no bearing on legal protections granted by the state.

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