Martin O'Malley signed two bills this week granting
gay and lesbian couples tax benefits as well as
hospital visitation rights, according to The
Washington Times. The governor, a
Democrat, said his support of these measures was, in part,
in response to the lack of a civil union statute in
ability to have the legal protections that, say, a civil
unions statute would give, then these other bills will, I
suspect, continue to come through the legislature and
continue to be approved by the legislature," he said
in the article.
The bills are an
effort to give committed but unmarried couples some of
the legal benefits and rights typically granted to married
couples. For gay and straight couples who are
unmarried, such legal benefits can offer some
financial and personal security in the event of a
partner's illness or death.
One bill grants
hospital visitation and the right to make certain medical
decisions, provided that the couple has documentation (such
as shared property or bank accounts) as proof of their
The second bill
"exempts domestic partners from paying property
transfer taxes when one person dies."
Garagiola of Maryland commented on the bills, calling them
"a huge step in the right direction."