I want to thank all of you for being here this morning. There is a broad coalition, many of whose members are arrayed on the steps here with me. They are all supportive of the bill that was introduced last night on civil marriage equality in the State of Maryland.
All of us want the same thing for our children. Marylanders of different religious beliefs, Marylanders of all walks of life all want the same thing for our children. We want our children to live in loving, stable, committed households that are protected equally under the law. We also believe that we can protect religious freedom and rights equally under the law.
Other states have found a way to do this. We can find a way to do this too. And that common ground that allows us to move us forward is dignity – the human dignity of every single person. This is a broad coalition that is supportive of this bill, including Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition, which now includes the Baltimore NAACP, the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Family Equality Council, Catholics for Equality, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, Maryland Faith for Equality, the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, PFLAG, NOW, Progressive Maryland, and Equality Maryland, and many others.
Yesterday, we submitted a marriage equality bill which balances equal protection of individual rights with the important protection of religious liberty and religious freedom. This is a broad- based array of Marylanders that support this bill. Just this month, we also welcomed the support of the AFL-CIO and SEIU 1199, one of, I think, the largest health care unions in the entire country.
The momentum is growing, and there’s a lot of hard work to do. We are going to be successful in this legislative session by recognizing the dignity in one another, by recognizing the common humanity that all of us share. In this great State, that celebrates diversity as our strength, we choose to be bound together by a common thread. That common thread is human dignity. It’s what allows us to look into the eyes of every child in our State, and say that this child is a child of God, and that this child is worthy of the protection of the laws equally, that all of us come together to support in order to make our State a better place, a more just place, a more caring place.
With that, I’d like to turn it over to Reverend Starlene Joyner Burns.