January 30, 2012 | by Phil Reese
Md. Senate committee to consider marriage bill Tuesday

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hold its first hearing on the Civil Marriage Protection Act tomorrow at 1 p.m. but LGBT supporters will be at work hours before the testimony begins.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality has announced a 9:30 a.m. rally for supportive clergy at the Maryland Inn (16 Church Circle) in Annapolis.

The hearing comes a day after the Washington Post released the results of a poll of Maryland voters finding 50 percent in favor of same-sex marriage and 44 percent opposed.

“Attitudes around marriage equality are changing all over this state,” said Ezekiel Jackson, political organizer for SEIU 1199 and president of Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “As the coalition talks to constituents about how the governor’s bill both promotes marriage equality and protects religious liberty, public support will only increase. People are beginning to get this is all about making Maryland families stronger.”

Among those expected to testify at the 1 p.m. hearing will be supportive clergy, families headed by same-sex couples, adult children of same-sex couples and leaders of organizations that have joined the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition, including SEIU 1199 and the ACLU of Maryland.

According to Equality Maryland, both supporters and opponents of the bill will have two hours each to allow witnesses to give testimony.

While supporters’ hopes are high for tomorrow’s senate hearing, all eyes will soon be on the Assembly, where the speaker has for the first time assigned the bill to two committees — the Assembly Judiciary Committee — which includes indicted lawmaker Tiffany Alston, as well as 2011 “flip” vote Sam Arora — and the Health and Government Operations committee. The committees will likely sit jointly to hear testimony, according to supporters of the bill, and the combined hearing will include a total of 45 lawmakers, which may make scheduling difficult.

Speaking to the Washington Blade this afternoon, Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, said that once the speaker and the two committee chairs are able to work out the logistics, they “hope in the next few days” to have a date for the Assembly hearing.

The Blade will have updates from Annapolis on Tuesday. Check back throughout the day for the latest developments.

 

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