Allowing same-sex marriage would end a serious legal inequity in Maryland. As an estate-planning attorney, I also know firsthand of the devastating consequences a person can suffer when his or her partner dies. Most of the deceased's assets are subject to a hefty 10 percent inheritance tax. Wills and other paperwork can go a long way toward protecting the surviving partner. But wills can be challenged, and the simple truth is that most people die without one. With the benefit of marriage, a surviving spouse is exempt from the inheritance tax and is among the first to inherit if there is no will.
More importantly, though, Maryland needs same-sex marriage for the same reasons it needs straight marriage. Marriage promotes cohesion and stability in society. It encourages couples to put down roots and become members of their communities. And when children are present — and they often are in same-sex households — marriage helps to create a nurturing environment by encouraging longevity in the parents' relationship.
Allowing same-sex marriage would also benefit Maryland economically.
Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia currently allow same-sex marriage. By joining their ranks, we would encourage our same-sex couples, and their tax dollars, to stay in Maryland. Maryland could even become a place for destination weddings, further helping to stimulate the local economy.
Same-sex marriage is good law, good public policy and good economics.
Whenever it happens, it will be good for all of Maryland's citizens.
Lee Carpenter, Baltimore