Question 6 legalizes same-sex marriage in Maryland

Kailey Tracy, Copy Chief

It was near midnight in Republican farm country of Baldwin. Senior Joe Novak’s eyes were glued to the TV, his heart in his throat. Just a few more votes and he would be part of history.

On Nov. 6, Maryland voters elected same-sex marriage into law, joining nine other states including Massachusetts, Maine, Washington, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and the District of Columbia, according to the New York Times.

Upon receiving the 1.4 percent margin needed to boost the law into action, Novak’s brother, Scott Novak, class of ’12, called him from a Democratic election party in Florida, where he attends college. “They had stayed up as well, waiting to see if it [Question 6] would pass. It shows the national effect that it had,” Novak said.

Maine and Washington approved same-sex marriage in a referendum as well on Nov. 6. Maryland and Maine’s laws will go into effect by January 2013, and Washington’s on Dec. 6, 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislation (NCSL).

Maryland’s referendum allowed voters to take the issue into their own hands, and Novak did exactly that, lobbying for the law. “This is something that I personally have been working my hardest at for years, which is the issue of equal rights for the gay community,” Novak said.

Writing a three page single-spaced paper concerning his feelings on the election, highlighting Question 6, Novak attempted to persuade his close family and friends, to whom he sent the letter, to vote for Question 6.

He was successful in convincing his grandparents and senior Kristina Aragon’s mom to vote for Question 6, all of whom were otherwise going to vote against it. “[Gay marriage] was never talked about until it had to be addressed. My letter had a lot of positive effects on people close to me,” Novak said.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spoke to the issues in Question 6 in a letter as well, attempting to get a different outcome, however. The letter informed Catholics of the Church’s teaching regarding marriage. According to religion teacher and Associate Pastor at St. Ignatius Father Stephen Sutton, the letter was issued nation-wide about six weeks before the election and read during Mass on two occasions prior to the vote.

“Scripture teaches and the Church affirms that marriage, in keeping with God’s natural law, requires the possibility of bringing new life into the world,” Sutton said. “Because we have voted to make it a civil law that two men or two women can be civilly married does not take away from the fact that such is not a Christian marriage in keeping with the Biblical requirements and God’s natural law.”

According to the Catholic Review, the Maryland Catholic Conference and the Maryland Marriage Alliance joined together, attempting “to overturn the law.”

“So much hard work went into this … We will continue to witness to the values of marriage as understood as the union of one man and one woman, as the most sound, secure and loving way to bring children into the world,” Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori said, according to the Catholic Review.

Although the Church was defeated by the law being passed on Nov. 6, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone called for a strengthening of marriage, according to a letter issued to the media on Nov. 7.

“Nov. 6 was a disappointing day for marriage. The meaning of marriage, though, cannot be redefined because it lies within our very nature. I especially call on all people to pray and to build a renewed culture of marriage and the family,” Cordileone said.

The election results are a “wake up call” for Catholics, according to Lori. Same-sex marriage put into law shows “our need to redouble our efforts to defend marriage … and to help people understand it as a unique relationship that does not discriminate against anyone, but is for the good of children and for the good of our society,” Lori said.

The law does state the right of clergy to decline marrying same-sex couples, according to CNN, but along with the Church, Religion Department Chair Joseph Gallen believes that the law “redefines marriage,” as it doesn’t let “nature take its course.”

“It’s foreign to me to think of marriage as not between a man and a woman. If society wants to create another category [partners, companions], that’s great, but don’t redefine the concept of marriage,” Gallen said.

Sophomore Samiah Miller is troubled by the law altering the definition of marriage as well. “Marriage is defined as a unity between a man and a woman, not a man and a man, or a woman and a woman. I think that it should have been named something other than marriage,” Miller said.

According to Gallen, “growing beyond tradition” of this issue is “kind of tricky.” He does concede, however, that voting Question 6 into law “shows some progress” relating to mistreatment of same-sex individuals and couples.

Novak, however, believes that religion has been absent as a prevalent part of marriage for a while. “I feel that ever since marriage has been official in a court room, I feel that religion was taken out of it. Marriage became a legal issue, and that’s why we were voting on it,” Novak said.

Gallen predicts that this “legal issue” will be “steam-rolled in some areas,” expanding the acceptance of gay marriage. “Someone puts money into it and generates enthusiasm for it, and the next thing you know it’s pushed forward,” Gallen said. The Los Angeles Times foresees a similar forecast, stating that other Democratic states are “likely to follow” other states’ lead.

According to Gallen, prejudices from those against same-sex marriage and those who might have voted against it need to be addressed. “We have to accommodate homophobia or prejudices that emerge from couples of same-sex marriage. We have to make judgments, but you don’t mistreat people and their relationships,” Gallen said.

Novak has a similar message for those who voted against Question 6. “For people not happy with Question 6 being passed, take the situation from an outsiders’ view and look at its effect in your life.”

Going to bed at 1:00 a.m. on Nov. 7 after he had seen the exact results of the referendums and the election, Novak felt confident that everyone had a fair chance at love.

“We live in America where everyone is quote unquote equal, and Question 6 is a human rights issue. If we are equal, marriage should be as well,” Novak said.

Kailey Tracy is the Copy Chief for the Patriot and