By Maria Wiering
Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s sole Republican congressman, is among 28 co-sponsors of new legislation that seeks to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a union only of a man and a woman. It would void any state constitution that defines marriage otherwise.
Titled “The Marriage Protection Amendment,” the joint resolution was introduced June 28, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman for federal purposes. The court also announced June 26 that it declined to rule on a challenge to Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment that also defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Republican from Kansas who said in a June 26 statement that the recent court decisions undermine the ideal of children being raised by a married mother and father, “causing harm to America’s children and all of society.”
Thirteen states, including California, and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. Maryland’s General Assembly passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012, and an effort to overturn the decision through popular referendum failed in November, despite strong advocacy for traditional marriage from Maryland’s Catholic bishops.
A Catholic, Harris represents Maryland’s first district, which includes the Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties. The first district voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage on November’s ballot.
The Marriage Protection Amendment has been referred to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. To become a constitutional amendment, the legislation would require support from two-thirds of the members in both the House and Senate and ratification by three-fourths of the states.