On March 5, 1995, Annapolis Friends met for the conduct of business. The Minutes for that meeting related to ceremonies of commitment in same sex relationships declare:
Annapolis Friends met for the conduct of business on the fifth of third month, 1995. Present were [a number of Annapolis Friends].
[Other minutes not applicable to issue of same sex relationships]
[A Friend] then presented the issue of ceremonies of commitment in same sex relationships. A Friend expressed some concern over the use of the word marriage and said he would be more comfortable with wording along the lines of that used by Stony Run [Friends Meeting in Baltimore]. There was some further discussion of the question of the word 'marriage' and the relationship of legal marriage to the religious ceremony. Other Friends spoke of the need to support loving relationships. A Friend asked that we clarify the distinction between marriage and ceremonies of commitment. There was general support for recognizing same sex unions, but questions were raised as to procedures and wording. This was referred to the Committee on Pastoral Care. Friends with concerns in this area should work with them. Friends approved the following statement as the basis for further work by the Pastoral Care Committee:
Friends approve, in principle, ceremonies of same sex couples. We affirm the goodness of committed loving relationships and offer recognition and support to those who share this ideal and desire to enter into a permanent relationship based upon it.
We still need to clarify what "under the care of meeting" means for marriage and ceremonies of commitment.
As the Pastoral Care Committee undertakes these considerations, I will attempt to assist that effort by offering the following general perspective on love and the law (in Maryland). Hopefully, this perspective will clarify some of the legal questions noted in the Minutes.
Mike Christianson, Esq.
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