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Senate GOP leader in Maryland to push for civil unions

In a surprise move for a Republican, Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (pictured), from Maryland, said he would remove a state requirement that a marriage be between a man and woman; and sponsor legislation in the upcoming session to allow civil unions between both heterosexual and same-sex partners. Kittleman said his bill would give couples who are united through civil unions the same benefits available to married partners but would also “protect the rights of religious institutions to define marriage as they choose.” There are also provisions to ensure that religious groups opposed to same-sex unions not be required to perform such marriages.

“I am a strong believer in personal liberty and freedom,” Kittleman said in a statement. “I believe that we have an opportunity to make Maryland a more fair state, a more just state and a state which treats all of its citizens equally under the law.”