Transcript

On Proposed Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage in Maryland

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Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt (R-Dorchester)
Maryland House of Delegates
Wednesday, February 1, 2006; 2:00 PM

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt (R-Dorchester), who supports a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Maryland, was online Wed., Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the proposed amendment.

Del. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., (D-Montgomery) who opposes the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Maryland, was online Wed., Feb. 1, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss the proposed amendment.

From The Post:

Gay Marriage Amendment Seen Eroding Current Rights (Post, Feb. 1)

Ehrlich Urges Legislature To Debate Gay Marriage (Post, Jan. 31)

Gay Unions Fracture Md.'s Black Caucus (Post, Jan. 28)

Gay Marriage Ban Advances Toward Va. Referendum (Post, Jan. 26)

Democrats in Md. Try to Limit Fallout Of Gay Union Case (Post, Jan. 25)

Judge Strikes Down Md. Ban on Gay Marriage (Post, Jan. 21)

Interactive Graphic: Gay Marriage State-by-State

The transcript follows.

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Montgomery County Republican: I'm a little worried about bringing this to debate in an election year. The Republican presence in Maryland is slim as it is. Knowing that polls have shown a roughly equal split between people who approve of the amendment and people who don't, why jeopardize what little hold we have? There are bigger issues for Republicans, like school vouchers and the incredible spending sprees.

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: The issue at hand - marriage between a man and a woman - is a very basic and fundamental contract that has been around for many years, and because of court action around the country and in this state, many citizens believe the definition needs that clarification. In 1972 the legislature clarified the definition and now the courts have considered that clarification unconstitutional. The citizens want to be heard. This is important to the citizens I represent. I don't believe we are jeopardizing what we have as we also work on other issues as well such as oversight of efficient government, health care, senior care, etc.

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Rockville, Md.: Del. Eckardt,

One of the primary justifications I have heard for this amendment is the maintenance of the traditional institution of marriage. Slavery and women being unable to vote, both also historic examples of rights being denied to a section of our population, were also tradition at one time. What makes this issue different?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Marriage between a man and a woman has been at the very foundation of our society - and essentially was for procreation.

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Bethesda, Md.: How do you feel about the fact that the proposed amendment from Del. Dwyer would actually take away rights already held by same-sex partners in some parts of Maryland, such as the right to provide health benefits for their partner?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Same-sex partners don't have that right now unless benefits are provided through employment or other local means.

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Reston, Va.: I want to know what Del. Eckardt recommends gay couples do to protect themselves in retirement. My partner and I are approaching retirement, and I am worried that if my partner dies before I do (he is 10 years my senior and has been the breadwinner in our family the past couple of years) that I will be in big trouble due to the lack of Social Security and health benefits that I can't enjoy because I am unable to marry. What would Del. Eckardt do if he were in my situation?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: When individuals choose their lifestyle there may be implications.

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Arlington, Va.: A lot of Republicans use the term "activist courts" to explain why gay marriage should not be made legal, as it being overturned by Judges.

Would you be critical of "activist courts" if Roe vs. Wade were overturned? What about the fact that "activist courts" outlawed segregation in this country. Your thoughts?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: I think we are seeing an erosion of the very foundation of our society and some of this has been through the courts. The people need to decide.

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Owings, Md.: Delegate, you've indicated that the purpose of this amendment is not to take away the few rights gay couples have, but the constitutional law experts at the hearing Tuesday indicated that this specific amendment, even if unintentionally, does just that. Are you considering a more carefully worded amendment? Do you care whether gay Marylanders can protect a partner through insurance, etc.?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: In fact I do have another bill that excludes civil unions. I hear your concerns.

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Crofton, Md.: Where can I go to get the records of how my elected officials in the state are voting? Because this will affect my decision in November.

Thank you.

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Votes of the General Assembly members are on the General Assembly web page by bill number.

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Baltimore, Md.: My brother and his wife plan to never have children, so your procreation argument would seem to not apply to them. Should they be denied a marriage license since they aren't going to procreate?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: No. I talked about procreation as the initial intent for marriage.

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Arlington, Va. -- follow up to your answer from my question: You state that there has been an "erosion" to our society by the courts. What is that erosion? Can you please explain? This a much-used talking point, but no one explains what the erosion is. Your thoughts?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: A gradual chipping away of this country's most basic institutions.

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Hagerstown, Md.: Would Del. Dwyer's bill invalidate powers of attorney, health care directives, deeds, etc., between same-sex couples?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: From looking at the bill I cannot tell at this point. Power of attorney is always an option and I believe advanced directives can also provide for significant others involvement.

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Waldorf, Md.: Dear Del.Eckardt: When we choose our way of life there will always be things we find unfair. There are wills and lawyers to protect us. I say NO to same-sex marriage. We have to protect the fiber of our country at all cost. Where do you stand on this?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: I certainly agree.

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U of Maryland: Why not put this issue to a popular vote, instead of letting the legislators decide? If it really is an issue of the people, as you say?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: That is why the constitutional amendment so that the people can have a voice.

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Hyattsville, Md.: My mothers are two lesbians who raised me and my sister since we were 11 and 8. We are both heterosexual, and I am an undergraduate at UM College Park -- go Terps! I am petrified at how this law will impact my beautiful family. Why do you want children of gay/lesbian parents and our parents to suffer so much?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: I am not out to promote anyone's suffering. How one responds to any situation is based on one's beliefs and thoughts about one's life, values, etc.

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Bowie, Md.: Del.Eckardt I find this law to be sound. I have a friend who is gay. She said what goes in your home should stay behind closed doors. She made a will to take care of her partner, as did her partner. Do you agree this is the best way to handle this?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Your way of handling your relationship sound reasonable to me. I didn't understand the first part of your thought - which law?

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washingtonpost.com: Maryland General Assembly Web site

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Silver Spring, Md.: The whole gay marriage thing needs to rest. It is a very delicate and sensitive subject and Americans in general are not up to speed with this. For Democrats to win big in 2008, they need to ease talking about this. I believe that is one of the main reasons why we lost Ohio in 2004. By the way, I am gay and a Democrat.

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Thank you this is a most sensitive issue and folks one both sides are passionate about their positions.

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washingtonpost.com: Coming up at 3 p.m. ET: Maryland Del. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) continues the discussion of Maryland's proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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Rockville, Md.: Do your religious beliefs (if you have any) factor into your ideals in regards to this matter?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Of course. I do believe in a Biblical perspective of marriage and that our country was built also on these principles. I also am a psychiatric nurse who has worked with many individuals. My experience as well as my beliefs factor into my position and some issues cannot be compromised.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you ever take hard questions? It seems like you are choosing the softball ones. Your comments on choice and consequences are cold and extreme.

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: I don't consider myself cold and extreme but I am not a master of the technology. I also have time constraints on my responses.

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Detroit, Mich.: We passed a similar law in Michigan last year, and we're seeing young people leave the state -- gay and straight -- because they don't want to live in a repressive area. Aren't you worried about the financial/economic implications of such a measure?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: You raise a good point.

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Rockville, Md.: I would strongly support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage and would like to see it placed on the ballot so the people have a chance to vote on it. How likely do you think it is that the delegates will actually be able to place an amendment before the voters this fall?

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: That's a good question. Taking the amendment to ballot is desired but I do not know if the votes are there.

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washingtonpost.com: Starting Now: Maryland Del. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) continues the discussion of Maryland's proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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Odenton, Md.: Do you feel that your personal believes are getting in the way of effectively representing your constituents? You just admitted that your beliefs are helping you make a decision. But if your constituents feel differently, then you must vote in their favor, not your own.

Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: I consider all input I receive from constituents. But I have been elected on who I am also.

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Del. Adelaide C. Eckardt: Thanks for the opportunity to respond. I have not done the chat room before and have learned from all who shared the thoughts.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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