Saturday, March 12, 2011

Del. Anne Kaiser's Floor Speech for Marriage Equality

Mr. Speaker-

It will come as no surprise to you that I support this bill -- and I do so unequivocally, unabashedly. My green vote today is a vote for equality and equal protection under the law. It is a vote against bigotry. Against fear. It is a vote in favor of love and stability.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker -- members of this body believe that what I want -- and what thousands of other Americans want, which is to marry the person they love -- is somehow immoral or against god. Strong religious beliefs seem to be a main theme in the opposition.

Throughout this entire marriage equality debate, I have asked countless people to share with me a single legal argument against marriage equality. There are none.

Mr. Speaker -- some people who oppose this bill have even gone as far to say that if this bill passes -- I might someday be allowed to marry a toaster… a robot… or even a household pet. These arguments have sickened me -- and sadden me -- and have been so offensive I can barely stand it. As if my marriage to my girlfriend might bring about some dramatic end to civilization as we know it.

Mr. Speaker -- I want something so very simple. And so does my girlfriend of eight years. We want to be married. We want our relationship to be formally recognized by the state. We want all the rights and privileges that come along with marriage. And, we want to get married in Maryland -- the state where we have made our lives together and where I have spent my entire life.

I want to get married during my parent’s lifetime. My mother is 75. My father is 78. Please don’t tell my mother I “outted” her age on the House floor. My mother -- a mother of a Jewish lesbian -- is just like your mother. She doesn’t like her age being bandied about publicly. And I can assure you that she didn’t bank on having a lesbian daughter. But she has one. And even though she is 75 years old -- born only 15 years after women in our country earned the right to vote -- she too stands for equality.

She did what so many mothers do when she heard her daughter was gay. She cried at first and then she told me she loved me. And then she told me she loved me again. And then she made me lunch. Those Jewish mothers can be a little repetitive, especially when they are telling you they love you. But over time she understood that I deserve the same rights, the same equal protection as any other person. I deserve to marry the person I love.

I come from a family that values marriage. And like me and many of you, my mother doesn’t understand how my marriage to my girlfriend would in any way weaken or make less meaningful her marriage to my father. They have been married for over 50 years. My mother’s parents were married for 67 years. My aunt was married for 55 years. I come from a family that values marriage.

Mr. Speaker -- it’s obvious to me that this is an issue that has divided this house along party lines, and in some ways, along racial lines as well as religious lines. For at least five percent of the members of this body -- this is a deeply personal issue. For so many more, who have gay or lesbian relatives or friends -- it is also a deeply personal and important vote today.

With the push of our button today, we have the ability to ensure equality to thousands of Marylanders -- to confer more than 400 benefits and legal protections that come with marriage. We have the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of our country that Maryland stands for equality. We have the chance to put fear and hatred in its place. We have the chance to endorse love.

I am voting green today, Mr. Speaker. Because I just don’t understand why anyone in this body would oppose the economic benefits that would come to our state if this marriage bill passes. I am voting green today because there is no legal argument that the opposition has. I am voting green today because I want a family that is recognized under the law.

I cast my green vote not only for myself, not only for my constituents, not only for my Mother and Father -- but for all Marylanders who stand for equality. I urge every member who believes that he or she is opposed to this legislation, ask yourself this simple question: what would be so horribly detrimental if the lady from Montgomery County could marry her partner? What would be so detrimental if the lady from Baltimore City could marry her partner? Or the gentleman from Southern Maryland could marry his partner?

Whatever happens today, I will still love my girlfriend. She will still love me. Our parents and friends will still love us.

I urge the body to vote in favor of equality, civil rights, equal protection and love.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.