Of the almost 3,000 marriages performed last year in the surreal-looking Mormon temple, that rises above the Beltway in Kensington, temple President Edward E. Drury remembers most vividly the college couple from St. Louis.
"Even though it was a financial hardship to come and wait for a marriage license, they came -- it was their only temple," said Drury, leader of the Washington Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormons.
It was a journey these two were willing to make because it would insure their marriage for all eternity within the beliefs of their faith.
"A civil marriage is until death do them part but in our faith we believe that in the temple marriage you are married for all time and forever," said Drury.
For all Mormons who practice their faith from here to the Mississippi River, north to Canada, and south to Venezuela, their temple is the Washington Temple, opened in December, 1974. The record number of marriages, though, combined with Maryland's two-day waiting period requirement brought president Drury to Annapolis today to ask the legislature for relief.
Before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Drury asked that a bill be passed to allow out-of-state residents the right to apply for Maryland marriage license at their local court-house and avoid the waiting period in Maryland.
The financial and sometimes emotional hardship of waiting in Maryland would be avoided, Drury argued, and make it possible for more Mormons to receive what he called the sacred marriage of a temple.
"Some people have been married previously in a civil ceremony or in a hall but they come here to have it sealed in the sacred ordinance . . . only a marriage in the temple is for all eternity," said Drury.
Most faiths make a distinction between a civil and religious ceremony and for the Mormons there is an added distinction between the religious ceremony in a Mormon hall -- a meeting place like a church but not consecrated -- and the ceremony in the consecrated temple. There are six temples in Utah, two in California and one here in Kensington for all Mormons around the world.
"The temple is for only sacred ordinance work like baptisms, marriages. When young people wish to have a sacred marriage for all eternity or to have their civil marriage consecrated they should be able to," said Drury.
On Wednesday the committee will decide whether the bill will receive a favorable report and be sent to the Senate and eventually the House for passage. Sen. Margaret C. Schweinhaut (D-Montgomery) sponsored the bill for the Mormon temple two blocks from her home.
"We stood next to each other in the voting booth line last November and he told me about his problem," said Sen. Schweinhaut. "Any people who hold marriage and the family so sacred should be given relief."
In other action, a bill that would have required inspection of used trucks before their resale was defeated today for a second time in the House of Delegates, but it wasn't clear if the vote reflected a victory for the trucking lobby or merely, as one opponent put, the defeat of a bad bill.
The vote, 50 for 65 against, reflected a lot of work by both proponent's and opponents since the proposal was defeated initially, 54 to 68, last week.
A total of 23 delegates voted differently today from the last time, but most of the changes offset each other.
Del. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the proposal, was angry and disheartened by the vote. She complained that her committee chairman, Del. John W. Wolfgang (D-Prince George's), "should have been defending the bill" during debate. Instead, Wolfgang remained silent, and then didn't vote.
Wolfgang, chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee, said he was willing "to defend the bill" but that opponents directed their questions to Ruben.
His failure to vote today, after casting a "yes" vote last week, was "more by inadvertence than design," Wolfgang said.
"The practice of not voting, although present, is known as "taking a walk," and Wolfgang wasn't alone today. A total of 26 delegates were recorded as not voting although all but 10 members voted on some other bills today. Among those not voting today were seven who voted yes last week and seven who voted no.
The two conversions from no-to-yes apparently resulted from clearing-up of an objection by Del. Craig Knoll (D-Prince George's), who last week opposed the bill for fear that it would require inspection of recreational pop-up campers. Today, Knoll said he was satisfied that those small trailers were not affected "in any way" by the bill.
Last week Ruben told of an accident that killed five people that federal investigators blamed on a Maryland truck, with faulty brakes. The truck had been sold a few weeks earlier. She was asked then if that were "the only example" of such an accident.She said she didn't know. But today she told of another crash, involving the death of a sheriff in Charles County whose car was crushed by a truck with broke problems, which had been recently sold in Maryland.
Del. Michael J. Sprague (D-Charles) sprang to his feet and provided further details on the crash, details that he said proved that "no inspection in the world would have prevented" the accident.
Conscious of the publicity that followed the previous vote on the bill, Sprague added, "I'd like to say this was unsolicited testimony."
Sprague later said he got the data from the oil firm that had bought the truck, feeling that Ruben would bring up the subject because of a vague mention of the accident last week.
Del. Patrick Welsh (D-Baltimore County) the freshman delegate who proposed reconsideration, ended up voting against the proposal for a second time. He attributed his flip-flop to arguments posed by his seat mate, Del. George E. Heffner (D-Baltimore county).
Heffner said it was "a phony bill" that would not accomplish its goal of keeping unsafe trucks off the roads.
The only delegate who switched from for to against, Del. Hugh Burgess (D-Howard), explained the outcome this way: "I'm not easily persuaded by people with excellent motives and bad bills."