A.G.'s Report on Same-Sex Marriage Calls Bans Hateful - Southern Maryland Headline News

A.G.'s Report on Same-Sex Marriage Calls Bans Hateful

By Alicia McElhaney

WASHINGTON (April 17, 2015)—State bans on same-sex marriage are founded on "hate, prejudice, ignorance, fear or moral disapproval," according to a report issued Thursday by Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh.

"The report analyzes the origins of the state laws that prohibit same sex marriage," said Frosh, speaking at a news conference and symposium on the report hosted by American University. "We conclude that the pressing question of marriage equality cannot and should not be addressed piecemeal when the process has been by hatred and prejudice. "

The report issued by Frosh's office, entitled "The State of Marriage Equality in America," was released less than two weeks before April 28, when the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on cases involving same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.

The report explores a "national trend of reactionary anti-gay enactments" which date back to the early '70s. It then examines the debate and discussion among state government officials and others about same-sex marriage and the hostility that often arose in those conversations.

The report shows several examples of hostility, including an amendment to the Kansas constitution in 2005 that banned same-sex marriage and "any form of recognized relationship between same-sex couples."

"The amendment's author proclaimed that same-sex marriage is 'in defiance of biology, nature and common sense' and will 'further the destruction of the family,'" according to the report.

"The only real basis for [these laws], we understand, is to express hostility towards millions of Americans because of their sexual orientation," Maryland state Sen. Jamie Raskin, D-Montgomery, said at the symposium. "The other side uses a nice euphemism for it, which is tradition, but the only tradition it upholds is discrimination."

The report includes a state-by-state breakdown of the number of same-sex couples in each state, what percentage of those couples have children and a summary of the state's laws that affect same-sex couples.

Maryland, for example, has 12,538 same-sex couples, 20 percent of whom have children, according to the report, which drew on a report from The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles law school.

While Maryland was the first state to uphold marriage equality in an election, it was also the first state to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in 1972, according to the report.

"I find this to be a fascinating example of how far we've come in the state of Maryland," said Richard Madaleno, Jr., D-Montgomery, Maryland's first openly gay state senator, who also spoke at the event. "It has been a remarkable transformation."

Several states, including Maryland, and companies have co-signed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey led the filing in early March.

The brief highlights the legal inequities of same-sex marriage bans, such as denying parental rights or not including a spouse on the death certificate.

However, Frosh noted that the brief did not include arguments that when a state prohibits gay marriage, there is "animus" or hate, prejudice, fear or ignorance surrounding the prohibition, which is why he said his office issued the report.

"We wanted to make a statement ourselves, without detracting from what Massachusetts has done," Frosh said.

Frosh, Raskin and Madaleno noted that they were hopeful for the results of the Supreme Court decision.

"The path to equality has been a long and difficult one," Frosh said. "In Maryland it took four years to get there, but it shouldn't take that long. This is the classic case for intervention of our courts. They can vindicate the rights of individuals who chose their mates to be of the same sex."

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