Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Maryland Ready for Marriage Equality

Thank you, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, for joining the ranks of courageous leaders - people such as Coretta Scott King, Kweisi Mfume, Julian Bond and Archbishop Desmond Tutu - who dare to put themselves on the line for equal marriage rights ("Gansler backing same-sex nuptials," Feb. 15).

Last week, I went to meet with my elected officials to urge their support of civil marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

After explaining that civil unions would not protect gay families but would set up a separate and unequal system for same-sex couples and that only civil marriage will ensure those families equal protection under the law, I heard several legislators explain that although they personally abhor discrimination, they could not support civil marriage for gay couples because of the way they were raised.

Well, we were all raised in a culture that promotes the idea that gays and lesbians are second-class citizens, whose families are not equal because they are not what we were raised to think of as "normal."

But that is no excuse for failing to do what is right.

I can think of no better words to express this than those of Rep. John Lewis, who said: "I've heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry."

This is a moment in Maryland when we can take the difficult but just path and stop condoning institutionalized discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Read the rest of this article in the Baltimore Sun.

As we come closer and closer to the end of discrimination in all forms I must say that I couldn't be more proud. Individuality is what makes us as strong as we are. When we allow people to be themselves we learn what unique strengths they have to offer the world, and we grow stronger from that knowledge. Inclusion, not exclusion is the American way.

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