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On August 29, 2013, the IRS announced that same gender couples who are legally married would be able to file joint federal tax returns just as married heterosexual couples do. This new policy came in response to the Supreme Court's ruling in June that overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. It allows married, same gender couples to claim the same marital exemptions, deductions and credits as heterosexual couples, even if they live in a state that does not recognize same gender marriages.
According to The Washington Post, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a statement that the move “assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”
The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013 (FAMA), SB449, would prohibit discrimination against transgender Marylanders in the areas of employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations by adding "gender identity" to our existing anti-discrimination laws based on race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and other characteristics.
Sadly, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee failed by 5-6 to pass SB 449, The Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013. UULM-MD is saddened to hear that Maryland legislators, despite extensive contacts, will not afford transgender Marylanders the right to be free from discrimination in their jobs, homes, and places of public accommodations.
This bill is about securing basic civil rights for all transgender people in Maryland: the right to a job, a place to live, and fair treatment in public spaces. Transgender people are not yet included in Maryland laws that prohibit discrimination. This legislation is necessary because rates of discrimination against transgender Marylanders in 2011 included:
It's the Law in Maryland! Thanks for Your Help!
Governor Martin O'Malley signs the proclamation declaring marriage equality officially the law in Maryland!
December 6, 2012
On February 23, 2012, the Maryland General Assembly passed The Civil Marriage Protection Act and Governor Martin O'Malley signed the bill into law on March 1, 2012. Opponents petitioned the bill to referendum, and on November 6, 2012, the voters of Maryland firmly supported ending marriage discrimination against same gender couples in Maryland! And UUs were there all the way through the journey!
"For seven years, through court cases and near misses, in testimonies and joyful rallies: you stood, you sang, you debated, you witnessed, you convinced, you wrote, you donated. Conversation by conversation--at the polls, on the phone, at doorsteps, in grocery stores and waiting rooms, in legislative halls and public forums--you showed up, you persevered, you lifted the weary. This is how history is made! What beauty you all are! With admiration and love, we salute you."
-----The Reverend Lisa Ward, minister UU Fellowship of Harford County
-----The Reverend Diane Teichert, minister, Paint Branch UU Church
UULM-MD Marriage Equality Referendum Co-Chairs
Not certain what the new law actually says? Click here for the full text of The Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012, signed into law by Governor O'Malley.
A Personal Story
Montley Testimony before the Maryland State Senate
in Support of SB 116: the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act
(Feb. 8, 2011)
My name is Patricia Montley. My partner Sally Wall and I have been together for 31 years. Sally is not here today because she is in class. She is a Professor of Psychology at a private university in Maryland. If she were here today, I would not want to introduce her as my girlfriend, my lady love, my bosom buddy, my main squeeze, my sweetheart, or my paramour. She is to me more than a companion, more than a best friend, more than a significant other, more, even, than a partner. She is to me a spouse. And that is a word that means something to all who hear it—something different from all those other terms, something stronger and more serious and more substantial, something clear and precise, something unambiguous and universal. Spouse.
Our relationship is not a fleeting affair or a starry-eyed romance. We do not live together for convenience or economy or safety. We live together because we want to continue to be responsible to each other and for each other, because we want to go on taking care of each other as we have for three decades—through illnesses and surgeries and broken bones, through loss of family members and friends, in times of professional accomplishments and disappointments, in moments of personal elation and despair, even through the teenage years of two children. Our relationship is more than a friendship, more than an intimacy, more than a partnership. It is all these. It is a marriage. And we want it to be legally recognized as such.
We are grandmothers. We are not young. When we were young, it was very hard to be a lesbian. So we were closeted. We lived in fear that neighbors would report us to the landlord. We lived in fear that our universities would deny us tenure—or even another year’s contract.. We lived in fear that our families would disapprove of and reject us—which they did, and do. We lived in a world which told us every day that we were not honorable people, that we did not deserve to be treated like you, that our love for each other was not as worthy as yours.
Now, all these years later, things have changed. Some things. For us, the closet door has slowly opened. Now the neighbors are friendly. Now our universities have given us distinguished teacher awards. Now some family members have come around.
But are we yet recognized as honorable people who deserve to be treated like everyone else? Is our love for each other yet recognized as equal to—worth as much as—the love you and your spouse have for each other? The answer to that question is in your hands as you vote on SB 116,
End the centuries of dishonor. Give us the same dignity you have. Vote yes.
The following is a copy of a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun in August, 2009.
We're Just Like You
This summer we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. Wood - sturdy and beautiful. Natural. We gave each other lovely jewel boxes crafted by an artisan whose work we had long admired. A meaningful but private celebration - just like our wedding had to be.
You see, we were married in Canada. Not because we were rebellious young people who eloped because our parents disapproved (though they did). But because our own country would not legally recognize our relationship, which had by then already lasted 25 years.
The Canadian wedding took place on a magnificent June day at the Shakespeare Garden in Stratford, Ontario. The natives were wonderfully hospitable and accepting - from the chef who sent special wedding treats to our table, to the elderly women across the aisle in the swan boat on the Avon River who, when they heard the reason for our fancy dresses and corsages, jumped up to congratulate us.
At the end of the ceremony, in proud, formal tones, the officiant reminded us as we signed the register: "Your relationship is now a part of history."
Then we came home to the state of Maryland, where both of us were born and educated, have worked and paid taxes, but where our relationship is not part of history. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot: It was, you might say, not satisfactory.
We have worked hard at contributing to our community. Between us, we have 60 years of teaching experience, much of it in colleges and universities in Maryland. We have published scholarly and creative works and won distinguished teacher awards at our respective institutions.
One of us has served on political campaigns for candidates she is committed to; the other serves as a poll judge for every election. We support the arts with memberships and subscriptions to Baltimore's theaters, museums and symphony.
As new grandmothers, we happily provide child care for toddlers in our family. Just as important, we have provided elder care for ill and dying relatives and friends.
We try to live honorably, to explore the spiritual values of our own and other religious traditions, to create meaning in our lives by contributing to the well-being of others. At First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, where we are members, one of us serves as secretary of the board and chair of the music committee, while the other coordinates the ushers and serves in the nursery. We both occasionally lead worship services, organize social gatherings and cook for Our Daily Bread.
We like to garden and bake and dance and laugh. We take in mail for neighbors on vacation and send birthday cards to their kids.
You see, we're like you.
And like you, we want our marriage - our commitment of 30 years - to be honored in our home state. So long as marriage is permitted to some and denied to others, we to whom it is denied are second-class citizens, separated from the fully accepted, less than equal.
There are other, more practical protections of marriage too, for example:
? Eligibility for health benefits (without taxation) through a spouse's employer;
? Ability to inherit jointly owned property without incurring tax penalties;
? Ability to take leave to care for a sick spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act;
? Right to file joint income taxes;
? Entitlement to inherit Social Security and disability benefits upon the death of a spouse;
? Right to inherit a spouse's pension;
? Access to "family" memberships;
? Community property ownership protections.
If Maryland honors the legal marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, it won't deliver all of these benefits. But it will help with many of them and provide further momentum for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress in 1996, which denies legally married same-sex couples more than 1,000 federal protections.
Heterosexual convicted murderers have the right to marry. Heterosexual people who have racked up a dozen divorces have the right to marry. Heterosexual couples who have known each other for only a few days have the right to marry. Heterosexual movie stars doing it for publicity have the right to marry.
But we don't. Though a case might easily be made that the marriages of these others pose a threat to the sanctity of the institution, they are nevertheless legal.
We hope with all our hearts that Attorney General Doug Gansler and Gov. Martin O'Malley will offer us a belated wedding present of security, peace and governmental protection by finding the legal grounds to honor our Canadian marriage.
Patricia Montley and Sally Wall
UU Wisdom on Marriage Equality
In the sidebar on this page, you will find a section titled "UU Sermons/Papers". There you will find:
"UULM-MD LGBT Task Force Chair the Rev. Lisa Ward supports marriage equality at an Equality Maryland Lobby Day Rally.
From the Reverend Megan Foley
Sugarloaf Congregation of UUs
Musing from the Minister
Increasing the Joy through Marriage Equality: November Referenda, Part 2
“Extending the right to marry to committed gay and lesbian couples will increase the joy in our world!”
Rev. Diane Teichert and Rev. Lisa Ward, Co-Chairs
UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland LGBT Task Force
Last time, I wrote about one of the referenda that will appear on the November Maryland ballot, to
implement the Dream Act for our state’s undocumented and talented youth who want to attend college
at the same tuition rate as their high school peers. This week, I’m writing about another important
referendum on the November ballot – the referendum that extends the right to marry to same-sex
partners in the state of Maryland.
Unitarian Universalists have long considered marriage equality to be an important justice issue that falls
in line with our desire to see the amount of love and commitment in the world increase. In the recent
legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly did the hard but critical work of passing same-sex
marriage legislation. This law will put us among the small but growing number of states which allow
full marriage equality for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. However, anti-equality forces are
gathering signatures to place the issue on the November ballot for a popular vote, in hopes of reversing
the good work of our state Assembly.
Maryland is, in general, a progressive state, and a marriage equality bill is very much in line with our
values as Marylanders and Unitarian Universalists. However, marriage equality has never before passed
a state referendum. Will Maryland be the first state to offer equality to our neighbors from the ballot
box? Or will this November see us moving backwards, back to injustice, back to the wrong side of
Marriage equality in Maryland needs your help. If you care about this issue, please consider doing one
or all of the following steps in order to help your neighbors see justice made in Maryland.
1. Vote for marriage equality in November, and encourage your friends, neighbors, co-workers and
family to do the same.
2. Sign the pledge from Marylanders for Marriage Equality to show your support.
3. Work with other UUs throughout Maryland on a coordinated effort to get marriage equality
best. Spread the joy!
I sincerely believe that we are at the top of a tipping point, where we will soon cascade down into full
equality for everyone who loves someone and wants to commit to a lifetime together, whether that
person is the same gender as they are or not. But we need to start that process by implementing our
marriage equality law here in Maryland. Let’s show the nation how to live out values of fairness, justice,
See you at Sugarloaf,
From the Reverend Lisa Ward
UU Fellowship of Harford County
LETTER TO THE EDITOR of THE AEGIS
In your article on Harford County’s push to repeal the Civil Marriage Protection Act, it is clear
that a great deal of confusion surrounds the civil discourse of this ground-breaking law.
First and foremost, the Civil Marriage Protection Act clearly spells out the protection of
religious freedom. This law does not dictate or redefine religious marriage. The state does
not have jurisdiction over religious rites or practices. No religious institution or leader will be
forced to recognize or perform marriages counter to their religious beliefs.
Civil marriage is about public policy, not religious dogma. It is about securing civil liberties
and legal support for all Marylanders to form families, thrive in community and strengthen the
bonds of society in the public square.
There is a wide spectrum of Biblical interpretation, spiritual discernment and sense of call
around the issue of marriage equality. I have had the pleasure of advocating for marriage
equality alongside Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist and other colleagues who
stand on the side of love and justice, with an equal regard for all souls and a humble embrace of
the diversity of Creation.
We are blessedly free in this society to debate religious sensibilities. The only way to protect
that freedom is to affirm that no single religious doctrine should dictate civil law. Religious
institutions will be free to choose whether to welcome the full and free participation of their
LGBT neighbors, but in the public square, all of our neighbors should have the same freedom to
thrive, love and fully engage in society.
The legislators who found it in their hearts to pass the Civil Marriage Protection Act encouraged
Marylanders to take one more beautiful step toward freedom and justice for all. Come
November, I urge you to consider the well-being of the whole of community and vote to defend
Rev. Lisa Ward
UULM-MD LGBT Task Force
WHY UU'S SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY AND LGBT RIGHTS
Unitarian Universalists have been on the forefront of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights for decades. The consistency and integrity of our justice claims sends a strong and steady message that advocacy for equal rights for all is a sustainable faith principle.
We believe in freedom and justice for all, without reservation or judgment of being, because we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We are each born a unique gesture of creation that has the sacred right to thrive in our fullness. How can we deny the healing power of love in another’s life? We are not in charge of another’s being or choice in loving: we are given the opportunity to grow in wisdom and knowledge as we encounter one another.
We do this by practicing justice, equity and compassion in human relations. We do not fully understand one another at all times, so we must rely on the discipline of regarding each life as sacred and beyond our full understanding. We are also helped in our journey toward understanding justice by our respect for the interdependent web of all existence. Diversity is survival. Just as eco-systems rely on diverse beings to activate a full and healthy living system, so must we empower diversity within our communities and world in order to come to a healthy, thriving, fullness of life.