Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maryland Lawyers & Judges Association Endorses Marriage Equality // MSBA: "It Is Fair & Just To All While Injuring None"

Maryland Juice is pleased to see that the non-partisan Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) has come out in support of Governor Martin O'Malley's marriage equality proposal. The organization, which represents over 20,000 Maryland judges and lawyers, states the following mission on its website:

Our mission is to effectively represent Maryland's lawyers, to provide member services and to promote professionalism, diversity in the legal profession, access to justice, service to the public and respect for the rule of law.
MSBA's press release announcing their support for marriage equality is below. Hat tip: Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

~ Board of Governors votes to support Senate Bill 241 ~

BALTIMORE, Md. - The Board of Governors of the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA), the state's largest legal professional organization, has voted to endorse the proposed Civil Marriage Protection Act, which, if passed into law, would grant same-sex couples the right to legally marry in Maryland. Prompted by the recommendation of the MSBA Standing Committee on Laws, the Board voted by an overwhelming majority to support Senate Bill 241, scheduled to go before the State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on January 31, 2012, in Annapolis.

"I could not be prouder of our endorsement of this Bill which, while protective of religious sensibilities and prerogatives, clearly and emphatically extends those civil rights embodied in our fundamental belief that 'all men are created equal' - and not simply 'all heterosexual persons are created equal' - to our entire citizenry," states Henry E. Dugan, Jr., MSBA President. "It reinforces that 'establishment of justice' referenced in the Preamble to the Constitution and proclaimed daily throughout our Country in the Pledge of Allegiance - 'With Liberty and Justice for All.'"

In addition to the Committee on Laws, the MSBA Sections of Young Lawyers, Family and Juvenile Law, Elder Law, Estates and Trusts, Immigration, and Delivery Services have also championed SB 241.

If passed into law, the Bill would establish valid marital status in the State between any two individuals, irrespective of gender, who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying. The Administration Bill, which has 20 co-sponsors, also provides an exemption for religious organizations that elect to neither perform nor participate in marriage ceremonies that conflict with the tenets of the faith.

"We have a state history of non-religious civil marriages that is and has been distinct and entirely separate from religious marriages, and this Bill pertains exclusively to these civil marriages and the extensive civil rights that arise from those civil marriages," notes Dugan. "It is fair and just to all while injuring none."

If the Bill becomes law, Maryland would join seven other jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and the District of Columbia, that currently issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Maryland State Bar Association is a voluntary, non-profit membership organization comprised of more than 24,000 attorneys and judges. The MSBA monitors judicial and legislative issues, offers legal education opportunities and promotes leadership within the legal profession. The MSBA offers public service programs to ensure the delivery of quality legal services to all citizens and is committed to furthering the efficient administration of justice and equality for all.


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