Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich said on WTOP radio on November 20 that he disagreed with the Massachusetts ruling legalizing homosexual marriages and promised that the same ruling would never occur in Maryland. Ehrlich further stated that he would support the legislation banning recognition of these marriages in other states, according to the Washington Post.
Before the Massachusetts ruling in the week of November 16, civil-union of same-sex couples was only legal in the state of Vermont. However, not all 50 states recognize the rights and benefits granted to these couples by their civil unions in Vermont.
The denial of these benefits in many states is a huge problem for same-sex couples. Because they are not legally married, gay couples cannot adopt children, receive a partner's benefits from the government, receive marriage tax deductions, inherit property, change their name, receive worker's compensation, or be appointed as a guardian of a partner's child. Same-sex couples that pay taxes and support their communities deserve these inherent rights as much as their heterosexual counterparts.
The Massachusetts ruling will put civil unions on the same level as marriages, the only difference being the name associated with the two kinds of union. This ruling is a step beyond civil unions in Vermont, which only grant some marital rights to homosexual couples.
The definition of marriage, according to Webster, does include the idea of a man and a woman bonding with emphasis on social and legal dependence. However, this point is losing its validity, as dictionary.com now includes the definition, "A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage," or in other words, a same-sex civil union.
The idea of marriage is further extended to include that the purpose of marriage is to procreate and maintain a family. While same-sex couples cannot physically have children together, they can give birth to children through artificial insemination, or adopt children. Heterosexual couples that choose not to have children are not denied the rights granted to legally "married" people.
In his statement in the Washington Post, Ehrlich said that marriage as an institution has been "under attack; it's been weakened for many, many decades now. I'm not going to have any part in further weakening this incredibly important institution." However, in a letter to the editor a few days after the article was printed, Randall Dodge wrote, "Does Mr. Ehrlich imagine that the divorce rate in Massachusetts will go up if gays there are allowed to marry?" Extending marriage rights to more of the population should only strengthen the institution and improve its statistics, which need help due to the skyrocketing divorce rates.
Ehrlich's flat out refusal to see the possibility of granting marriage status to homosexual couples in Maryland will soon be lost as the US heads toward an up-swing in granting equal rights to a minority population. In June 2003, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law, which prohibited consensual gay sex, and this November, an Episcopal diocese in New Hampshire appointed the first openly gay bishop.
The nation is slowly but surely altering attitudes and granting more rights to a population, which has been denied governmental assistance, financial aid, and social acceptance. Ehrlich may have given the concept of civil-unions in Maryland the brush-off, but the 600,000 households in the US headed by homosexual couples will not dismiss the issue as easily.
Caitlin Garlow. Caitlin is a second-semester senior at last. Her favorite things include making fun of her homeless sister and hunting down her clothes in other people's closets. More »