Skip to main content

'Domestic partnerships’ definition out of order, says Maryland Catholic Conference

BALTIMORE, Md. (The Catholic Review) - In a move described by Catholic leaders as “startling,” a legislative committee approved regulations defining domestic partnerships Jan. 10.

The regulations were approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review during a brief hearing in Annapolis.

The Maryland Catholic Conference (MCC), the Church’s lobbying arm, opposed the regulations at the hearing and no advocates of same-sex marriage testified. The impetus came from the Maryland Insurance Administration, which had drafted the emergency regulations in response to legislation approved last year that required insurance companies to offer coverage to domestic partners if an employee requests it.

The regulations define domestic partners as adults 18 and older who have been in a committed relationship for more than six months and live together. The regulations were approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, 12-4, and because they are emergency regulations, they are automatically in effect for the next 180 days.

‘Regulation before the law’

Mary Ellen Russell, MCC deputy director for education and family life, urged the committee to reject the regulations, saying, “Our reasons for urging the committee to take this action are simple: the responsibility for codifying a legal definition of domestic partnerships does not belong to this committee, to the Maryland Insurance Administration, or to the regulatory process. It properly belongs to the legislature, who last year rejected such a definition when considering the legislation that has prompted these proposed regulations.”

Normally a law is passed first, and then the agencies involved will promulgate regulations as to how the law should be implemented, Ms. Russell told The Catholic Review.

“This is regulations before the law,” she said. “This is a huge abrogation of the democratic process. It’s a real outrage.”

Karen Barrow, director of public affairs for the insurance commission, said, “We were implementing a statue passed in the last general assembly … as part of that we needed to promulgate that regulation.”

Letters of protest

The MCC immediately drafted letters to the Senate president and House speaker to voice grave concerns over the manner in which domestic partnerships were approved.

The letter said: “We have no argument with the legislation passed last year which, according to the Maryland Insurance Administration, has prompted the need for regulations. Our contention is that the regulations proposed by the Insurance Administration go beyond the scope of that charge, and should not have been approved by the committee. The statute does not, and should not, specifically require that a legal definition of ‘domestic partnerships’ be created in regulation … It is not the responsibility of the Maryland Insurance Administration to settle issues that have not been resolved by the legislature. We urge you – as the House of Delegate’s principle sentinel of legislative prerogative – to insist that the lawmaking role of the General Assembly is not circumvented and thereby abused.”

The letter was signed by Richard J. Dowling, executive director of the MCC.

Said Ms. Russell: “If the legislature chose to be silent on the legal definition of domestic partnerships, surely the Insurance Administration should not assume that task."

---

Republished by Catholic Online with permission of The Catholic Review, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Md. (www.catholicreview.org).

Keywords:



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

0 Comments

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ezekiel 37:1-14
The hand of Yahweh was on me; he carried me away by the spirit ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
So let them say whom Yahweh redeemed, whom he redeemed from the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 22:34-40
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees ... Read More

Saint of the Day

August 22 Saint of the Day

St. Andrew the Scot
August 22: Archdeacon and companion of St. Donatus. Andrew and his sister, ... Read More