The Maryland's House of Delegates is entering hour two of debates on Senate Bill 116, legislation that would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit.
Discussions from both sides have been passionate and often ended with abpplause in the House chambers.
Del. Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore County) said he found it offensive that the gay rights movement is often compared to the civil rights movement. Burns added that he's been threatened and called the "N-word" regarding his opposition to the marriage bill.
"The civil rights movement as I knew it... had nothing to do with same-sex marriage," he said, "and those who decide to ride on our coattails are historically incorrect. The civil rights movement was about putting teeth into the Declaration of Independence."
Del. Joseline A. Pena-Melnyk (Prince George’s and Anne Arundel) talked about her friendship with late Senator Gwendolyn Britt, who was lead sponsor of a marriage equality bill before she died from heart failure in January 2008.
"This was her bill," Pena-Melnyk said.
Del. Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore City), presented an amendment to change the name of the bill to include "Civil Unions" not "marriage." Glenn said she has promised activists supporting same-sex marriage she would be lead sponsor of legislation providing protections, but as long as that is called "civil unions" not "marriage."
"It's all about the word of God," she said. "It truly is."
Del. Kathleen Dumais (D-Montgomery County), co-sponsor of the marriage bill, countered that by saying, "Creating something separate is not equal, and I respectfully request rejection of amendment."
Glenn's amendment was rejected by a voice vote.
Del. Michael A. McDermott (R-Wicomico and Worcester Counties), who opposed the measure, expressed frustration that the amendment failed. "The thing you could have achieved in this House today will go on the ash heap," he said, calling the civil unions bill a "bridge."