Baltimore County Delegate Richard Metzgar (R-6) has pre-filed a bill that would allow discrimination against same-sex couples–or just about any sort of couple–in the name of religious freedom:
The key section of the cookie-cutter legislation is almost identical to a bill that has been filed in Virginia. While in the guise of protecting “religious freedom,” the bill is cast so broadly that it would allow broad discrimination in public accommodations. For example, hospitals operated by religious institutions could refuse to allow husbands or wives of same-sex couples to visit their spouses as a “privilege” related to marriage.
As should be well known, there is no need to pass legislation to protect religious institutions from having to perform marriages they oppose–a widely-respected right protected by the Constitution and Maryland law. Del. Metzgar is either hysterical on this issue or hopes to broaden the right to discriminate against same-sex couples.
Indeed, this extreme legislation would override the state’s law against discrimination in public accommodations, which covered gays and lesbians long before the State legislated same-sex marriage and then upheld it in a referendum. Moreover, it also would allow discrimination against interracial couples on religious grounds, so same-sex couples may be the target but not the only victims.
What Will Hogan Do?
After having opposed same-sex marriage during the referendum, Hogan claimed to have “evolved” and to desire to downplay these issues during the campaign:
“They have no part in this campaign whatsoever,” he said. “We’ve been completely focused on the issues that all Marylanders are focused on right now, and that’s economic issues.”
“We’re opposed to discrimination — all forms of discrimination,” Hogan spokesman Matt Clark said Friday regarding the governor’s position.
So now that Hogan is on board with opposition to discrimination against same-sex couples, will he take a strong stand against Metzgar’s bill as unnecessary and divisive? Or will the leading force of the Maryland Republican Party stand silent in the face of continued efforts by members of his party to fight to allow discrimination?