LGBT rights in Maryland

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LGBT rights in Maryland
Maryland (US)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 1999
Gender identity/expression Discrimination legislation and hate crime legislation
Discrimination protections Yes, both sexual orientation and gender identity[1]
(see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
Same-sex marriage
performed since 2013 (recognized since 2010)
Adoption Yes

The expansion of LGBT rights in the U.S. state of Maryland is a recent phenomenon, with most advances in LGBT rights occurring in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. Maryland has statewide protections against discrimination based on an individual's sexual orientation since 2001 and gender identity since 2014. Legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved by voters on November 6, 2012 and went into effect on January 1, 2013.

Laws against homosexuality[edit]

All laws against private consensual sex were overturned by Maryland state courts. The decision in Schochet v. State (1990) invalidated laws against private consensual sex between heterosexual adults.[2] The decision in Williams v. Glendening (1998) invalidated laws against private consensual oral sex between persons of the same sex.[3] A subsequent settlement in Williams v. Glendening (1999) invalidated laws against private consensual anal sex.[4][5]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Maryland was the first state to ban civil marriage between couples of the same-sex in 1973 with the passage of SB 122 which amended section 2-201 of the Family Article.[6]

Further information: Maryland Question 6

Same-sex marriage has been legal since January 1, 2013.[7] In 2012, Governor Martin O'Malley introduced a same-sex marriage bill to the Maryland General Assembly. After much debate, the law permitting same-sex marriage, known as the Civil Marriage Protection Act,[8] was approved by the House of Delegates in a 72–67 vote on February 17, 2012[9] and approved by the Senate in a 25–22 vote on February 23, 2012.[10] Governor O'Malley signed the law on March 1, 2012.[11] The law took effect on January 1, 2013 after 52.4% of voters approved a statewide same-sex marriage referendum held on November 6, 2012.[7] The vote was hailed as a watershed moment by gay rights activists and marked the first time marriage rights in the United States have been extended to same-sex couples by popular vote.[12] The legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland was not devoid of conflict. Roman Catholic authorities and some African-American religious leaders throughout the state were adamantly opposed, saying it would conflict with the best interests of society and threaten religious liberty.[13]

Since 2008, a limited form of domestic partnership has been available to all unmarried couples at least 18 years of age, who can verify their interdependent relationship through documentation.[14] Legal protections for partners include hospital visitation, end-of-life decisions, and joint property rights.[15] Since 2009, Maryland provides employee benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees.[16] The state has recognized valid same-sex marriages performed in other states and jurisdictions since 2010.[17]

Before repealing the ban on same-sex marriage, Maryland was the first state in the U.S. to define marriage as a union between a man and woman in a 1973 statute.[18]


State law permits any adult to petition to adopt and recognizes same-sex couples as co-parents.[19]

Discrimination protection[edit]

State law protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation since 2001 and gender identity since 2014.[20]

On May 15, 2001, Governor Glendening signed into law the Antidiscrimination Act of 2001 passed by the Maryland General Assembly, which added protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.[21] Opponents of the law collected enough petition signatures to put it to a referendum in the 2002 elections, but the petition was successfully challenged in court, and the Act took effect on November 21, 2001.[22][23]

Before state law included gender identity, five jurisdictions—Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Hyattsville,[24] and Montgomery County—already protected against discrimination based on gender identity.[25] Nineteen of the 20 remaining counties without protections do not have the authority to establish them, meaning that statewide legislation was needed to prohibit discrimination against transgender people in those counties.[26] Senate Bill 449, titled the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013,[27] was introduced in January 2013, aiming to amend the state anti-discrimination law to include gender identity.[28] On March 14, 2013, the bill was rejected 6-5 in a Senate committee, despite having 23 senators as cosponsors and needing a single additional vote to pass.[26] Similar bills were rejected in the years before.[29] The bill was introduced again as Senate Bill 212 in 2014. It was approved 8-3 by the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on February 20 and 32-15 by the full Senate on March 4.[30][31] The bill was approved 82-57 by the House of Delegates on March 27, 2014.[32] On May 15, 2014, Governor O'Malley signed the bill into law.[1] Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 became effective from October 1, 2014. Subject to referendum, because Maryland has a people's veto. Conservative activists have vowed to put the expanded protections to a statewide referendum, now collecting the 55,736 signatures of registered voters needed to place the measure on the ballot.[33] To be successful, 18,579 signatures must be submitted to the secretary of state by May 31, with the remaining 37,157 submitted by June 30.[34]

Hate crime protection[edit]

State law protects against hate crimes based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "GAM-SB0212 History 2014 Regular Session". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Schochet v. State". October 9, 1990. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Opinions, Advice and Legislation Quarterly News". 1999. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Chapter 5: The Legacy of Discriminatory State Laws, Policies, and Practices, 1945-Present". Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ "The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States - Maryland". Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Maryland upholds same-sex marriage law". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  8. ^ "House Bill 438 (2012)]". Maryland General Assembly. Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Gay Marriage Bill Clears Maryland House". February 17, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  10. ^ Derek Yiu (February 24, 2012). "Maryland Senate cheers same-sex marriage equality". Gay Star News. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Maryland Gay Marriage Bill Saved By Last-Minute Converts". February 19, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  12. ^ Honan, Edith (November 7, 2012). "Maryland, Maine, Washington approve gay marriage". Reuters. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
  13. ^ Broadwater, Luke (November 9, 2011). "Md. bishops call on Catholics to oppose same-sex marriage". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Senate Bill 566. Limited Domestic Partner Benefits Bill (2008)". Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Legislation: Recordation and Transfer Taxes – Exemptions – Domestic Partners". November 23, 2008. Archived from the original on November 23, 2008. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ National Conference of State Legislatures: "States offering benefits for same-sex partners of state employees", accessed April 16, 2011
  17. ^ Doug Gansler (February 23, 2010). "Marriage – Whether Out-of-state Same-sex Marriage that is Valid in the State of Celebration May be recognized In Maryland". Attorney General of Maryland. 
  18. ^ Peterson, Kavan (November 3, 2004). "50-state rundown on gay marriage laws". Pew Research Center. 
  19. ^ "Maryland Adoption Law". December 9, 2009. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Maryland Non-Discrimination Law". Retrieved January 1, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Senate Bill 205". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  22. ^ "Gay rights law set for referendum". The Baltimore Sun. July 20, 2001. 
  23. ^ "Maryland's Antidiscrimination Act Goes into Effect After ACLU Defeats Attempts to Derail Landmark Law". ACLU. November 21, 2001. 
  24. ^ "Hyattsville, Md., Passes Human Rights Act: City Council votes unanimously for LGBT-inclusive bill prohibiting discrimination". December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Baltimore County Council Passes Gender Identity Protection Ordinance". Retrieved May 20, 2012. 
  26. ^ a b "Maryland Gender-Identity Bill fails to pass Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee". March 14, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Senate Bill 449 (2013). Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013". Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Maryland lawmakers introduce transgender rights bill". January 29, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Maryland trans bill set to die in committee". Washington Blade. March 21, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Maryland Senate committee approves transgender rights bill". Washington Blade. February 20, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Maryland Senate approves transgender rights bill". Washington Blade. March 4, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Maryland transgender rights bill receives final approval". Washington Blade. March 27, 2014. 
  33. ^ "Md. Group Launches Referendum Effort For Gender Identity Discrimination Bill « CBS DC". 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  34. ^ John Riley (2014-05-14). "Squabble over Signature Gatherers – Metro Weekly". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  35. ^ "Hate Crimes". Retrieved January 1, 2013.