My Fellow Marylanders,
We have a very important question in front of us on Tuesday. Yes, there is a are offices to place people in and 7 ballot initiatives. I don’t care who you vote for. I don’t care who you support and who you like. **Vote for who you believe in.** That’s what we’re all going to do and no amount of debate or discussion will change that.
What I want you to carefully consider is Question 6 on the ballot.
>Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.
So many people are going to vote against this, stripping marital rights from couples all across the state due to religious beliefs. I ask that for one day, you divorce your religious views from the rights of your friends, colleagues and neighbors. There is a separation between church and state this country was founded on because of the persecutions of religious groups in Europe.
Our ancestors fled here to this continent to escape those persecutions. The rights being given in this question are legal rights under the state. They are not attacking religious. Nor are there forcing anything on religious people or authorities.
There is a difference between the civil benefits of marriage and the religious benefits of marriage. These are not the same.
* Same-sex couple will have a **civil** marriage license.
This has **nothing** to do with religion. A courthouse is not a house of God.
* It protects clergy from performing ceremonies which violate their beliefs.
No one is going to force anyone to do anything they don’t believe in and support. Religious authorities are free to perform or not perform services as they see fit.
* Religions have the right to say who they believe should and should not marry.
Again, this is not an attack on religion. This is about two people who want to share in the [legal benefits of marriage](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_and_responsibilities_of_marriages_in_the_United_States).
I could go on, but the important thing is this vote will help those people who want to share in the joy and happiness of marriage. It will also allow them to visit their spouse in the hospital in the event of injury or illness.
How would you like to be denied access to your spouse in the hospital because you *aren’t really married?*
What about not being able to adopt a child or having your stepchild taken away because you have *no legal right* of guardianship?
There are tax benefits. There are adoption rights. **These are the same rights available to every man and woman who want to marry in this country.**
This is *not* an attack on religion. **This is not about religion.** This is about getting a group of people the same rights and benefits as millions of others in the country.
*Women* had to fight for rights.
*African-Americans* had to fight for rights.
*White men* never had to right for rights. But historically did an excellent job of taking them away from everyone else.
**There are enough rights to go around.**
There can be marriage for everyone.
This is not an attack on your marriage.
This is not an attack on your religion.
**This is about equal rights.**
I ask all of my fellow Maryland voters, when you go to the polls, consider this question.
Would you really vote to keep the joys and benefits of marriage from a group of people because they are different from you?
If you’re voting because of your religion, try to separate people’s rights from your religious rights. If you’re living in this country and you’re not of Native American descent, your ancestors may have fled to *The New World* to escape religious oppression and persecution. Why would you perpetuate that hateful act?
I am a white man. I am married. I am a Christian.
But I am voting **For Question 6.** And I urge you to do the same. Vote to give rights unjustly taken away. Stand with me on the right side of history.