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February 17, 2012

Standing on Principles

Joe Charlebois

Del. Patrick Hogan (R., Frederick) made a common sense stand yesterday that may please very few of his constituents.


Many on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue will decry his position as "fence sitting" or indecisive. In actuality, it is the wisest response for such a contentious and complicated subject.


Delegate Hogan has decided to vote “No” to the passage of the same-sex marriage bill on the grounds that it is not defined as a civil union contract.


To Delegate Hogan’s point and the proponents of civil unions, there should be no reason that a person cannot enter into a contract with another with the purpose of sharing resources equitably within the framework of a partnership.


There should be no reason that a couple cannot share property, obligations and – under the foundation of legal arrangements – provide for each other or employ power-of-attorney in times of need.


This is where a civil union makes sense. A civil union between a man and a woman, between two siblings or even between members of the same sex, should be allowed in order to lend legal clarity to difficult situations.


I am not making any moral judgment on homosexuality, nor will I share my views on the same.


Delegate Hogan made a very principled stand this week in not voting in favor of “same-sex marriage.” He was quoted by Bethany Rodgers in The Frederick News Post as favoring legislation approving same-sex civil unions. He would not be in favor of marriage between members of the same sex.


If the legislation is amended to allow same-sex civil unions, he would vote in favor of legislation as long as it remained strictly defined.


Those who see this as an infringement of civil liberties and a bigoted point of view must realize that this is not an outrageous position to take, after all many feel that “marriage” is a primarily a religious institution or sacrament. A marriage between same-sex partners is antithetical to the teachings of many people of faith.


To many this may be a game of “semantic Twister,” but specifically defines what should be allowed under civil law and what is accepted as the social norm for a culture that has deeply held religious convictions.


Other states have passed legislation granting same-sex couples the right to “marry. They include Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.


Those states that offer some form of civil union are California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Washington.


Maryland currently recognizes unions formed in other states where it is legal to do so. The legislation that is currently up for a vote this week would allow for the state to perform them as well. If the passage of this bill was to be determined by the electorate, there would be a great chance that it would fail; but, then again, this is state of one party rule so you never know.


Even though marriage has been as much a civil as religious institution for hundreds of years, society still has a difficult time separating the two. If this is foundation of Delegate Hogan’s vote, there should be no issue with his vote.


Congratulations, Mr. Hogan, on your stand. Although others may pick at your decision, it was the right one to make.


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