The bill, which would make Maryland the sixth state to redefine marriage, passed the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 7-4. The Baltimore Sun reported it now has enough votes to pass the full senate, although that could change depending on what amendments are offered. Democrats control both chambers, and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley supports the bill.
Supporters named the bill the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, but religious groups say it actually harms religious liberty.
"The bill continues to provide no protections for an individual's religious freedoms, such as those of a clerk forced to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple," the Maryland Catholic Conference, which is lobbying against the bill, said in a statement. "More importantly, our fundamental concern about redefining marriage is for the sake of our whole society, and particularly for children and their elemental desire to know, and ideally to be raised and loved by, their biological mother and father.
"Stripping marriage of its unique connection to parenthood erases from law the right of a child to a mother and father, and ignores an essential question of why government favors marriage between one man and one woman over all other relationships."
Said Robert Anderson Jr., pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., "We don't know what sin is anymore. It's like the book of Judges -- everybody wants to do what is right in their own eyes, and the moment you close the Bible, all standards go out the window. Because now, anybody's standard is OK."
If it becomes law, then traditionalists are expected to gather enough signatures to place the issue on the 2012 ballot, where it could be overturned.
FACEBOOK GIVES NOD TO GAY RELATIONSHIPS -- Facebook recently changed its website to allow homosexual users to note if they are in a civil union or domestic partnership, two classifications that are legal in six states. Civil unions and domestic partnerships grant same-sex couples legal benefits without the name "marriage." The option is found under the "relationship status" toggle. A Facebook representative told CNET.com that it was a "highly requested feature."
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net