Senate Republicans oppose gay marriage

Former leader Allan Kittleman dissents from caucus position

February 01, 2011|By Annie Linskey, The Baltimore Sun

A majority of Maryland Senate Republicans — but not all — oppose legislation to recognize gay marriage, caucus leaders said Tuesday.

The group voted behind closed doors to take a formal position against a bill that would allow same-sex couples to apply for and receive marriage licenses. Official caucus positions must reflect the views of at least eight members.

"We met that threshold," Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs said in a statement. "The caucus expects extensive debate on this bill and we look forward to discussions of why so many Marylanders are passionate about this issue."

Jacobs did not provide details of the vote, but at least one member dissented: Sen. Allan Kittleman.

The Howard County Republican stepped down as Senate minority leader last month in part over his support for civil unions.

"I voted that we shouldn't take a position on the [gay marriage] bill," Kittleman said after the caucus vote. "I don't think it was a good move. ... I think there are a lot of Republicans who would want to extend equal rights to same-sex couples."

Kittleman has not yet introduced the civil unions bill he talked about sponsoring last month. He has until Monday to submit it, or face the additional hurdle of clearing the Senate Rules Committee.

Civil unions have critics on both sides of the same-sex marriage divide. Opponents of gay marriage say civil unions go too far; supporters say they don't go far enough.

Kittleman wouldn't say Tuesday how he'd vote on gay marriage if it came to the Senate floor. A committee hearing on the bill is scheduled for next week.

The gay marriage bill has 18 co-sponsors in the Senate. It needs 24 votes to pass.

House Republicans are expected to take a position on the bill next week, House Minority Leader Anthony O'Donnell said.

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