For Question 6: Marriage equality strengthens our society

The case for Question 6, which would affirm Maryland's law authorizing same-sex marriage, is simple. It affirms the principle that the law should treat everyone the same. Marriage is both a religious and a civil institution. Churches, synagogues and mosques have always set their own rules about which marriages they recognize, and this law does not change that fact. What it does is to ensure that no Marylander faces discrimination under the law when it comes to one of the state's fundamental institutions.

Opponents of the measure have sought to confuse the issue by warning of unintended consequences of marriage equality. They claim that those who, for religious reasons, oppose same-sex unions will be persecuted. That children will be taught about same-sex marriage in school against their parents' will. That it will somehow rob children of the best possible upbringing.

Those are no more than scare tactics. The law specifically affirms religious institutions' right not to participate in marriages they disagree with. Gays are already protected against discrimination in public accommodations like hotels and restaurants, and that will not change no matter what happens to Question 6. School curriculum is determined by local superintendents and school boards, not by Maryland's marriage law.

As for Maryland's children, this law only improves their welfare. Thousands of Maryland children are being raised by same-sex parents in this state already. Allowing their parents the chance to marry strengthens their families and provides them with crucial protections under the law. More fundamentally, it recognizes that their families are equal to everyone else's.

Nothing short of marriage equality will accomplish that. Civil unions and domestic partnerships in some states have sought to afford gay families with the same packages of rights and benefits as married couples — a difficult and usually incomplete task, given the number of laws that reference marriage in one way or another. But that approach creates two kinds of marriage — one for straight people and one for gay people — and that inevitably relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizenship.

Everyone deserves to be treated equally under the law, and for that reason, we urge voters to support Question 6.

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