Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Marriage Equality Press Conference and Senate Hearing

The Baltimore Sun has brief coverage of Equality Maryland's press conference (at which I served as the emcee) held just before the start of the hearings on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. The Sun has also reproduced the passionate testimony offered by Chrysovalantis P. Kefalas, Deputy Legal Counsel to Gov. Bob Ehrlich, at the Senate hearing in favor of marriage equality.

The Washington Post printed a story this morning on why advocates for equality favor marriage over civil unions.

Attendees at the press conference included the bill's lead sponsors in the Senate--Majority Leader Rob Garagiola, Rich Madaleno, and Jamie Raskin--and the House--Majority Leader Kumar Barve, Kieffer Mitchell, and Ben Barnes. Sen. Allen Kittleman spoke and said that this was not a partisan issue--that getting government out of people's lives is consistent with Republican principles, a view that has found some support over at Red Maryland.

Numerous other legislators showed up to lend their support, including Senators Roger Manno, Verna Jones-Rodwell, and Ron Young, Delegates Ariana Kelly, Al Carr, Aruna Miller, Kirill Reznick, Mary Washington, Luke Clippinger, Joseline Pena-Melnyk, and Jim Gilchrist. Montgomery Councilmember Nancy Floreen spoke in support as did Baltimore City Councilmember Bill Henry. Howard County Register of Wills Byron MacFarlane and Gaithersburg City Councilmember Ryan Spiegel also came and then testified at the hearing.

The words of some extraordinary ordinary citizens concluded the press conference. Maya Deane-Polyak, a high school student, talked about why she thinks her two moms should be allowed to get married. Charles Blackburn and Glen Dehn, who have been together for 32 years, and PFLAG member Erma Durkin spoke about their hope that the bill will pass.

Interest in the hearing was so great that the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee piped in audio and video of the hearings into an overflow room.