Here in my home state of Maryland, state delegate Emmett Burns Jr. (D – Baltimore County), known among activists here as a reliable opponent of equality for gay citizens, went on the offensive right out of the gate this year. The legislative session had hardly begun when he introduced House Bill 90, to invalidate same-sex marriages performed in other states

Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County, introduced House Bill 90 as Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler prepares to issue his opinion on whether the state must recognize same-sex marriages from out of state.

The bill also comes as neighboring Washington gears up to begin performing same-sex marriages beginning in March.

“The issue is knocking on our doors,” Burns said. “People will be flying over here, wanting to force us to accept their marriage licenses.”

“Our back door is open, and it needs to be closed.”

Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery, asked Gansler to issue an opinion on the matter last May. Gansler will interpret existing Maryland law on marriage recognition to arrive at his opinion. The opinion will also take into consideration legal precedent set nationwide, including that of the Proposition 8 trial currently being argued in California.

“There has been a lot of movement on this issue,” said Raquel Guillory, spokeswoman for the attorney general. “That’s why we’ve been very methodical in drafting this opinion.”

Burns’ bill also defines same-sex marriages as “against the public policy of the state,” language that advocates called an “end run around the legal process.”

“This is an attempt to step in and prevent the attorney general’s analysis from being enforced,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of the advocacy group Equality Maryland. “The bill would carve out another area of law where (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) couples would be discriminated against.”

…and Burns is being equally methodical in his efforts to deny same-sex couples the protection of the law. He’s said as far back as last February that this was his intention

Equality Maryland – a rights organization for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered – is trying to reach lawmakers with discussions of their faith, said Kate Runyon, the organization’s executive director.

“There are a couple of legislators that have some questions about how their personal faith and belief systems are either congruent or not congruent with supporting civil marriage for LGBT people,” Runyon said. “So we’re continuing to work with those folks, and we’re continuing to support their learning process to better understand the importance and value of equality for LGBT people.”

Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Baptist minister and opponent to same-sex marriage, said he had not been approached. “I guess they know better,” he said.

“Same-sex marriage smacks of biblical injunction,” said Burns (D-Dist. 10) of Woodlawn. “But I don’t base my opposition on biblical injunction alone. It’s bad social policy, bad political policy, bad economic policy and bad educational policy.

Burns plans to introduce a measure that would prohibit the state from recognizing a same-sex marriage that is conducted elsewhere.

“The back door has always been open, and it’s never been closed. This closes the back door,” he said.

Same pusillanimous bilge about back doors now as then. This would be the same “back door” that Mildred and Richard Loving availed themselves of, once upon a time. But Burns cannot see the people for the homosexuals, so he reliably acknowledges no comparisons there.

As if on cue, my local Baltimore newspaper has another story in it, telling us exactly what kind of knife Burns wishes to plunge into the hearts of loving couples here in Maryland..

Gay man is victimized twice, by killer and state

Glen H. Footman would appear to be the perfect candidate to get a check from Maryland’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.

He was shot in September 2008 while walking hand-in-hand with his longtime partner, Alex Chavarria, on Howard Street in Mount Vernon. Witnesses told police that a young man, previously overheard saying, “I’m going to kill myself a gay tonight,” stopped to ask Footman a question or bum a cigarette, and then shot him twice.

Baltimore police classified the shooting as a possible hate crime but have not made any arrests. Footman spent months at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, then at a rehabilitation center, then at home. In July, he returned to Shock Trauma for more surgery, and he died Nov. 9.

I’m going to kill myself a gay tonight… And Burns wants to make sure the man that gay loved and shared his life with for 13 years is treated with the same contempt by the state of Maryland…

Footman and Chavarria, together for 13 years, could not marry in Maryland. And had they been legally wed in one of the few states that recognizes gay marriage, it is unclear whether Chavarria could receive compensation here. Maryland’s attorney general is working on an opinion as to whether this state would recognize unions that are legal elsewhere.

The Assembly created the compensation board in 1968 to help “innocent victims of crime” and it has paid out more than $100 million. No tax money is used; the money is raised through court costs and fees paid by offenders. The board receives about 1,700 claims a year, and it paid out $6.5 million in fiscal 2009.

The money is to help victims or their families defray medical costs not covered by insurance, cover lost wages, get counseling and even wipe away the blood from scenes of violence…

…against the public policy of the state… If you think Alex Chavarria is just after some free money from the state…well…first of all you have no heart, secondly you have no soul, and thirdly you have no brain. When a loved one dies for almost any reason the medical and legal bills can be daunting. And they just go on forever it seems. Or at least it did to me after my own mother died. Years later I was still getting billed from various medical services. There is time lost from work. There may also be counseling. And if getting over the natural death of a loved one is hard, how much harder a violent one?

It may seem vulgar to bring money into something as horrible as the murder of a loved one, but ask the families who have had to endure the violent loss of a loved one how big the economic impact on their lives was. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board tries in a small, but important way, to help them get back on their feet both emotionally and financially. It is a small help, but it’s there to give them support. And to do one other thing: let them know in their moment of grief that they are not forgotten…that their community cares what happened to them.

Which is precisely what Emmett Burns would like gay people to never know, or if they know anything, it’s that it is against the public policy of the state of Maryland to care one whit what happens to its gay citizens.

I have an email into Burn’s office. It’s a simple, straightforward question:

Given what happened to Glen Footman and Alex Chavarria is it your position that the public policy of the state of Maryland should be that same-sex couples should neither receive, nor expect to receive, support from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board if their loved ones are the victims of violent crime?

Yes…I think I already know the answer to this one. Chavarria is not a victim here…Footman’s biological family is. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. But perhaps he’ll surprise me.