Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday he will veto a watered-down version of a bill that would have made English the official language of Maryland.
The governor, who previously called such measures "punitive" to non-English-speaking immigrants, told a Washington radio station audience that he fears such legislation would be divisive.
"The governor said that at a time when the state should be pulling together and recognizing and respecting each other's differences, this is not the time to create more divisiveness," said press secretary Dianna Rosborough.
As introduced by Del. George C. Edwards, a Garrett Republican, the legislation would have made English the official language for all state and local government functions. Public documents would have had to be in English, as well as oral communications at almost all government meetings.
The legislature, however, deleted the entire three-page bill and inserted in its place a single line stating, "English is the state language."
"It may be more symbolism than anything else," Ms. Rosborough said of the bill as passed. "But he doesn't believe it is something that needs to be symbolized."
George N. Manis, a lobbyist for U.S. English, the Washington-based organization that has pushed for such legislation nationwide, said he was surprised by Mr. Glendening's announcement because he had not had a chance to talk to the governor about the issue.
"I think what the bill would do is create unification, not separation," Mr. Manis said. "If you want to see divisiveness, look at some of the countries where they have all kinds of different languages. That creates such a problem."