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Gansler predicts Md. marriage bill will pass in 2012

But AG warns of possible referendum



Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler predicted today that same-sex marriage would be legalized in the state next year.

He made the remarks during a forum at the Center for American Progress about the bill and prospects for a referendum that could overturn it.

“Our governor is now on board and other state leaders are on board, so I do believe it will have the momentum to get passed,” Gansler said.

In February, a measure that would legalize same-sex marriage passed the Maryland State Senate by a vote of 25-21. But the House scuttled the bill after LGBT advocates determined they lacked the votes for passage.

Gansler said the marriage bill came close to passage earlier this year and failed because of “political misjudment.”

“They thought that the Senate side of the Maryland Assembly would be the difficult part, and it turned out to be the House side that was more difficult,” Gansler said.

Gansler said passage didn’t happen because of the “microcosm in the Assembly that exists in the state, the heavy African-American vote, and so forth.”

If the Maryland Legislature passed the marriage legislation, opponents of same-sex marriage could seek to overturn the law through a voter-initiated referendum. Such a measure could appear on the ballot in 2012 at the same time voters would be going to the polls in the presidential race.

Gansler said opponents of marriage equality would “very likely” be able to obtain the necessary signatures to place the referendum on the ballot based on what he’s observed with the state’s DREAM Act, which would authorize in-state tuition benefits at local community colleges to undocumented students in some cases.

“As we just found with the DREAM Act, you can do that over the Internet — get signatures — so it would be very likely that it would actually be put on referendum,” Gansler said.

Gansler added the act of finding enough signatures for the referendum “would stay the enactment” of any marriage law that comes out of the Maryland Legislature.

“In between that time, we’d get a referendum,” Gansler said. “So, it would never actually become law unless and until it went to the voters.”

Gansler said the referendum “could very easily pass” in Maryland and said “the problem is with people most likely to vote” during the election. Still, Gansler said Maryland “would be the place” for a measure rescinding same-sex marriage to fail.

“I believe it’s the most liberal state now in the country, more so than Massachusetts in terms of Democrat-to-Republican registration,” Gansler said.

Gansler added that if the statute banning same-sex marriage remains in place, litigation could benefit gay couples because of the opinion he issued in 2009 saying out-of-state same-sex marriages should be recognized.

“Because of the opinion that I drafted, I believe that it’ll be challenged,” Gansler said. “It’ll go through the courts and be challenged at that point, and I think the Court of Appeals will find the law to be unconstitutional sometime between now and the end of that whole process.”

Gansler said a couple of cases “are already percolating” on whether same-sex couples can be divorced in Maryland who were married in another state. Another case in Western Maryland, Gansler said, challenged the law on the basis of the “spousal privilege.”

“The judge used our opinion in upholding the notion that this couple does have a spousal privilege because they were married in another state,” Gansler said.

Gansler continued, “So, I think if we go to the courts, we will win there. So, I think we win either way; it might take some time.”

The Maryland attorney general made the remarks during a forum highlighting a new report, titled “All Children Matter: How Legal and Social Inequalities Hurt LGBT Families,” which examines how shortcomings in the legal system negatively affect 2 million children living in LGBT families. The report was published by the Movement Advancement Project.


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  1. Customartist

    October 26, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Let us not forget the central role of Del. Tiffany Alston in the last Marriage debacle.

    Alston co-sponsored a bill to legalize same-sex marriage but then left a hearing room with another lawmaker just before the bill came up for a vote. Before a subsequent vote, Alston introduced an amendment seeking to revert the legislation to authorize civil unions, not same-sex marriage. When that failed, she voted against the legislation, saying her vote was “for my constituents.” [Constituents meaning Money from NOM no doubt] The same-sex marriage bill died in the House of Delegates in March.
    Subsequently Alston was indicted on Multiple Charges and is accused of using campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, including $3,560 to cover her 2010 wedding expenses.

    State prosecutor Emmet Davitt announced a series of charges including: one count of felony theft; one count of misdemeanor theft; one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary and two election law violations. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

    “There is simply no excuse for candidates or their responsible campaign finance officers to flagrantly and repeatedly violate the requirements of the law in the conduct of their campaign finances,” Davitt said in a statement. James Cabezas, the lead investigator in the case, said the office decided not to place Alston under arrest but instead presented her with a criminal summons instructing her to appear in court where she will be formally charged.

  2. Tim

    October 26, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    First, we need to replace some of the traitorous anti-gay Dems in the House and Senate with Pro-LGBT Progressive Democrats. Then we need to get rid of about 80% of the Republicans in each chamber and replace them with Progressives as well. The attorney general is correct about Maryland becoming more Progressive and supportive of LGBT rights, but there are still a lot of ignorant people out there, and some of these people still hold elected office in Maryland.

  3. Bob

    October 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Getting this passed through the General Assembly will be nowhere near as difficult as preventing its being repealed on referendum (which is almost certain to happen). Strategic efforts would best be expended on educating the general population in an easy-to-understand, non-threatening way about why it’s in everyone’s best interests to provide legal recognition and support for same-sex families. You can bet your bottom dollar that the opponents will resort to their standard tactic of fear-mongering and spreading distortions to get their repeal votes from people who are susceptible to their message. We need to pre-empt that message with our public education campaign before theirs has a chance to take root.

  4. Danny Turgoen

    October 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I think homosexuals should have ALL THE RIGHTS normal people have, but homosexual marriage goes too far. I think it would be bad for children to be forced to grow up with two “dads” and no mommy. that is cruel.

    Let civil unions have hospital, wills, and social security rights, and job rights too
    just dont change marriage

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Anti-LGBTQ group claims Va. marriage amendment repeal will legalize polygamy

State Sen. Adam Ebbin rejected claim during committee hearing



census, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

A representative of an anti-LGBTQ group on Tuesday said the repeal of Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would pave the way for the legalization of polygamy in the state.

“There are some, at least, very legitimate concerns about whether this would actually legalize polygamy, among other forms of marriage,” said Family Foundation of Virginia Legal Counsel Josh Hetzler.

Hetzler made the comment during a Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee hearing on state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Ebbin, who is the only openly gay member of the Virginia Senate, in response to the claim noted polygamy is a crime under Virginia and federal law.

“I take offense to the Family Foundation’s characterization that this would allow polygamy,” said Ebbin. “This has nothing to do with polygamy, what this has to do with is equality.”

Carol Schall, who, along with her wife, Mary Townley, joined a federal lawsuit that paved the way for marriage equality in Virginia, and outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck are among those who testified in support of the resolution. The committee approved it by a 10-5 vote margin.

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly last year approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

Ebbin earlier this month told the Washington Blade he remains “hopeful” the resolution will pass in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Prospects that the resolution will pass in the Republican-controlled state House of Delegates are far less certain.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin before his election reiterated his opposition to marriage equality. Youngkin, however, stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

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Loudoun County removes LGBTQ book from school libraries

Superintendent overrules committee that called for retaining ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’



A Loudoun County, Va., School Board committee on Jan. 13 voted to uphold a decision by Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler to remove from the school system’s high school libraries a controversial LGBTQ-themed book called “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”

The book is an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe that contains descriptions and comic book style drawings of sexual acts that e uses to tell the story of eir journey and struggle in discovering eir gender identity.

Although the book has received an American Library Association award for its relevance to young adults, critics in school systems throughout the country have said its sexually explicit content is not suitable for school libraries.  

The action by the School Board committee came after Ziegler asked a separate school system committee to review the book to determine if its content was appropriate for school libraries. Loudoun Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard told the Washington Post the committee, in a split vote, recommended that the book be retained in high school libraries.

According to Byard, Ziegler overruled the committee’s recommendation and ordered that the book be removed from the libraries. Byard said that decision was then appealed to a School Board appeals committee, which voted 3-0 to uphold Ziegler’s decision.

The decision by Ziegler to remove the book from school libraries took place about two months after Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools officials decided to return “Gender Queer” and another LGBTQ-themed book called “Lawn Boy” to their high school libraries after temporarily pulling the two books in response to complaints by some parents and conservative activists.

Two committees appointed by Fairfax school officials to review the two books that consisted of educators, school officials, parents, and students concluded that, while the books contained sexually explicit content, it did not cross the line as pornography or depictions of pedophilia as some opponents claimed.

“The decision reaffirms Fairfax County Public Schools’ ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” a statement released by Fairfax school officials explaining their decision to retain the two books in their libraries said.

“Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

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Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126



The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

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